Banbridge Rugby Club Notes: I XV opening AIL win ~ II XV v Dromore In JNR Cup ~ III XV Downed by Ports ~ Blue Sox Tour Pics + Action from U15 & U13 XV

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Pack power Bann to opening AIL win

BANBRIDGE 1STs 16 Navan 12
October 1, 2011

Banbridge put their indifferent Ulster League form behind them to get their Ulster Bank League campaign off to a winning start.

But it was a far from vintage performance by the home side with a late interception try giving Navan a sniff of victory in the dying minutes. However Bann held firm to get the win warranted by a steamrolling forward display that had the Navan eight in increasing bother as the game progressed.

Jonny Pollock just failed to touch down Robin Thompson’s tidy grubber in the opening minutes, knocking on to allow Navan to clear from the scrum. But for the remainder of the quarter it was the visitors who held sway with play largely confined to home territory.

When Navan’s South African out-half Riann Van Der Vyver fielded a ‘Garryowen’ just inside his own half he all too easily jinked his way through the Bann defence before kicking neatly for right winger Casey Dunne to get the touchdown. Dave Sheridan’s conversion was off-target but the try gave the Leinster side the lead which they would hold until half-time, albeit reduced to two points by a Thompson penalty.

However as the first half progressed Bann began to edge the set scrum battle and the introduction of lock Simon McKinstry from the bench added extra poundage to Bann’s efforts. That superiority became even more marked after the interval and Bann won two further penalties as the Navan pack began to crumble under the pressure.


Seconds dump Dromore out of cup

BANBRIDGE 2NDs 12 Dromore 7
October 1, 2011

Qualifying League 1 side and near neighbours Dromore were the visitors to Rifle Park to take on the Banbridge second string in the first round of the Junior Cup. The underfoot conditions reflected the continual rain which had fallen for the previous 24 hours, but both teams provided a reasonable, if at times dour, standard of rugby.

Dromore gained the majority of possession in the opening period and used this to continually drive at their hosts. As the game went on, they were time and again met by a robust Bann defence that showed they were going to be a match for anything Dromore threw at them. Bann bided their time with some sterling work in the tight play, especially by locks Alan Conn and Andrew Davidson and assisted by prop James McCrum. Time after time they were able turn over ball with intelligent play in the tackle, as well as giving a demonstration of the traditional strength of the Banbridge set scrum.

Bann were unlucky on a few occasions when using this as a base for attack but the opening score duly arrived with 25 minutes played. Territory had been initially gained when the forwards won a penalty in the ruck, and out-half John Ferris sent his kick soaring down the line. The well functioning line-out secured tidy ball and the pack set off towards the line. When Dromore infringed in their efforts to stop the Bann surge, they found themselves facing a set scrum which they had been clearly keen to avoid. A series of five scrums took place 5 metres out, with Bann’s patient approach finally earning the reward of a try thanks to a touchdown from livewire scrum-half Craig Mulholland (pictured). Clark McAllister saw his conversion attempt hit the upright and bounce out.

With confidence in the home ranks now on an upward curve, they showed that the conditions did not mean they had to adopt an `up the jumper` game. First No.8 Sam Boyd broke off the tail of a scrum just inside the Dromore half and went on a run that ended 10 metres short of the try line. Davidson also went on a run the backs would have been proud of, gaining about 40 metres. Frustratingly though for Bann, they were still only 5-0 to the good at the break.

The second half continued with Bann being patient, and some forays by the backline, marshalled by fullback Adam Waugh and orchestrated by Captain Geoff Thompson. Indeed it was the skipper who brilliantly touched down after a move that showed the difference between the two teams. Bann had been working their way up field when they went into a Dromore scrum 30 metres from the visitors’ line. The Bann pack won the ball against the head. Instead of driving forward, Sam Boyd broke before feeding Mulholland. Slick hands from Ferris to Thompson saw the backs attack at speed and in numbers, and this allowed Thompson to beautifully cut inside as Dromore tried to cover the overlap. He sprinted past two defenders, leaving McAllister’s conversion a formality.

With Bann now calling the shots, Dromore were being forced to kick the ball in attempts to gain reasonable ground after being tackled back into their own half. With Bann 12 – 0 to the good, they made Dromore take chances, and on one occasion winger John Porter`s chase after a Ferris kick saw the Dromore defender knock on. Porter played on and his kick through bounced the wrong side of the touchline when he had the try line at his mercy.

The final stages saw Bann resolutely play the percentage game, and restrict the supply of ball in hand that Dromore needed to get back into the game. However the young Barban Hill outfit stuck resolutely to their task, eventually breaching the Bann line and adding the conversion. But Bann saw out the two minutes that remained to take their place in the second round.

Overall, this was a satisfactory performance from the Seconds. They adapted better to the testing conditions and showed a greater cutting edge in the backs, ably supported by a hard grafting pack. With sound performances in the backs, epitomized by Geoff Thompson, it was, however, the sheer work ethic of lock Conn which deservedly earned him the man-of-the-match accolade.

Packie hattrick not enough as Thirds ‘Downed by Ports
Portadown 2nds 49 BANBRIDGE 3RDs 19
September 30, 2011

Bann Thirds travelled to Portadown last Friday night to take on their second string in a league encounter under floodlights. It was a very wet night and the pitch was particularly slippy after a day’s heavy rain.

The match started with both teams throwing the ball around, despite the conditions, and only some great defence from both sides prevented early scores. All the players were having difficulty fielding high balls under floodlights and Portadown soon kicked themselves into a position from where they could run in their first try.

Bann responded well, but were unable to secure much possession from set pieces, and this was to prove their downfall. For although Bann looked good with the ball in hand, they didn’t have enough of it stay in touch.

Portadown ultimately ran in nine tries to Bann’s three, all of which were scored by Packie Downey on his comeback game. Andy Craig worked particularly hard in the pack along with Matthew Bird and James Mathers, the latter doing a good job in his first game at No 8.

In the backs, Kris Coleman and Francois Viljoen distributed the ball well to centres William Taylor and Calum Boland, both of whom tried hard in defence and attack. Anthony Malloy on the wing made a super break and then deftly chipped ahead for one of Downey’s three tries.

All in all, the score possibly flattered Portadown slightly but Bann have plenty to work on. The team has been very unsettled this season and if they could gain a bit of stability in the pack they could go on to achieve better results and notch up a few victories in this very competitive league.

Blue Sox return from Italian Tour

Banbridge’s perrenial tourists, The Blue Sox, have returned from another enjoyable trip in Europe; this time enjoying the sunny weather of the Adriatic Coast in Italy where they faced RC Cesena and RC Forli.

For photos and a full tour report click here.

15s lose last friendly ahead of league campaign
Ballynahinch 5 BANBRIDGE U15s 49
October 1, 2011

A depleted Bann U15s travelled to Ballynahinch missing no fewer than seven regulars due to injury and other commitments. They suffered a heavy defeat due to the superior skills and size of some of the ‘Hinch players. With the guys back from injury this result can be turned around.

Bann welcomed debutants Andrew Walker, Wayne McCurry and Jason Jardine with McCurry covering every inch of the park and Jardine scoring Bann’s only try after crashing through four tacklers. Josh Cromie was welcomed back to the 15s and constantly showed what a class act he is by his distribution and ability to find the space.

A lot of work needs to be done to make the individual players work as a unit. This can only be done on the training pitch so a good turnout is expected on Monday and Wednesday from 7pm to 8.30 before our first league game this Saturday against Lurgan.

13s score three in improved second half
Ballynahinch 0 BANBRIDGE U13s 0
October 1, 2011

After a very poor first half, when lack of discipline combined with poor tackling and rucking to allow Ballynahinch to build up a considerable lead, Bann improved considerably after the break.

With the more experienced players giving the lead, the defence was much tighter with some impressive man-and-ball tackling.

And a more cohesive attack created three fine tries. No 8 William Cousins touched down twice and Jack Dologhan grabbed the third. That second half display will do wonders for confidence as the team prepares to take on Lurgan this Saturday at Rifle Park.

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