Banbridge RFC Notes: V XV Claim Excellent Win @ Palace Grounds

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John McIlwaine was the happiest man at Rifle Park on Saturday 14th Jan evening after his Fifths side had come home from Armagh with the league points. The hard working manager was delighted with the way his side had overcome a raft of late changes in personnel to pick up just their second win of the season.
Armagh 4ths 10 BANBRIDGE 5THs 19
“We wanted to start 2012 with a win,” he said after the game. “We knew if we were to do that we had to cut out the individual mistakes that had cost us so many points in the first half of the season.

“I was especially pleased with the way the lads withstood a late Armagh comeback to hold out for the win – earlier in the season we might well have caved in to the pressure but this time we showed a real determination to get the result.”

Bann started brightly and quickly drove into the opposition “22”, with Stuart Forsythe and Lyle Cairns making the hard yards. The pack were providing good ball which allowed Chris Nelmes, in an unfamiliar role at outside half, to get his young backline moving and more often than not they were breaking the gain line.

In one such move Matthew Kerr broke through the Armagh defence before linking with Forsythe. The flanker drove on and fed Elliott Bell who side-stepped several would-be tacklers before touching down under the posts. Russell Anderson was successful with the conversion.

Bann’s front five were matching all that the Armagh pack could throw at them and with numerous scrums being called by the referee they were certainly being tested. From a penalty Bann kicked to touch and, with a pin-point line-out throw from hooker Gareth Briggs, Bann caught and drove into the Armagh “22”. The backline moved the ball and then fed back inside to Man of the Match Bell who again out-paced the Armagh defence to score under the posts, leaving his side to take a 14-0 lead into the second half.

Within ten minutes Bann had scored their third try when Nelmes fed winger John Haughey. The defence looked to have the situation under control but the winger’s strength and pace took him over the line.
At this stage Armagh really upped their game and were putting Bann under pressure but, from one to fifteen, the Bann players were showing great resolute defence.

Eventually the pressure did tell and Armagh scored following several drives by their forwards, their impressive prop driving over from several metres out. Ten minutes later and from a similar situation Armagh scored their second try. The Fifths team of 2011 may very well have collapsed at this stage and ended up losing the game but a different attitude throughout the team ensured no further scores were conceded and an excellent win achieved.

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