Banbridge Rugby Club II XV 38 v Rainey Old Boys II XV 10:

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Bann’s second string travelled to Magherafelt on Saturday, hoping to use last week’s home win to get back on track in the 2nd XV League. This they duly achieved by a comfortable margin after an early second half blitz had steamrollered the Rainey resistance.

Bann started enthusiastically, as the backs and forwards stamped their authority on most aspects of play to make progress towards the home line. This was via neat interplay, led by No 8 Sam Boyd, and effective line kicking by out-half John Ferris. However Rainey had the advantage of a gusting wind and they used it well to gain good field position and open the scoring with a penalty.

Within four minutes Bann had responded to take the lead. With possession regained from the re-start Ferris was able to send a penalty to within 10 metres of the line. Boyd collected at the tail of the lineout and shrugged off the defence to canter over the line for a 5-3 advantage.

Line breaks were now becoming frequent with quick handling between supporting players making good ground, but forward passes, with the line beckoning, negated all the good work. One such break from deep by Adam Waugh after 25 minutes, supported by James Andrews, saw the latter unlucky when his chip over the last two defenders cruelly bounced into touch inside the “22”.

With Bann’s control at the set scrum providing quality possession, Boyd picked up from the base and fed scrum-half Farr who shrugged off the tackles to score. The conversion by McAllister brought the score to 12-3.

The re-start allowed Rainey to get deep into the visitors’ half. For the first time Bann came under pressure at the scrum and paid the price as Rainey picked up and drove over for a converted try.

From the second half re-start Bann were awarded a penalty inside the 10 metre line, and although the attempted conversion by Farr was off target, Rainey were again on the back foot. When they made a hash of the “22” drop-out, the quick reaction of Bann Captain Geoff Thompson saw him dart goalwards where his forwards set up two quick rucks. Farr then fed the supporting backs and a dummy from Ferris freed up David Weir to crash in at the corner. The extras were missed from the touchline conversion, but Bann were now 17-10 to the good.

Ten minutes later Bann went further ahead. Bann stole the ball in the scrum and Boyd fed Farr. Andrews was in support and when they initially appeared to be covered from all angles by the defence, Farr was amazed that he was allowed to squirm backwards through a number of tackles to stride under the posts. McAllister slotted over to move the score to 24-10.

Six minutes later and it was the turn of centre Andrews to score. He received the ball on the half way line and used his size and power to get through the defence into open ground, continuing his sprint unchallenged to the try line. McAllister again converted and Bann were now 31-10 up.

Four minutes later the game was beyond Rainey’s reach. From a scrum on the half-way line the ball was fed to centre Andrews who made the first break, setting up winger McAllister to race down the left wing. He unselfishly passed inside to Thompson, who drew the defender to perfection before passing to Jonny McKim, who was able to sprint unchallenged to the try line. McAllister’s conversion found the mark.

Unfortunately the scoring ended there, although twenty minutes remained. This could be put down to an incident during which most of the players became embroiled in an unnecessary brawl after a robust tackle by Andrew Baird had led to Rainey take matters into their own hands, and disappointingly, for Bann to react. Although a penalty was to be awarded in any case, the resultant melee seemed to give referee Teddy Sloan no option but show the Bann flanker a yellow card.

With the game won, Bann were able to play out the remaining minutes managing their defence as Rainey pounded the line.

This was a good team result, and a result of continuing improvement improvement, especially in desire, intensity and confidence.

Although all players contributed, the assured play and confidence engendered in his team-mates when he had possession saw Sam Boyd gain the Man-of-the-Match award.

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