Banbridge Rugby Club Notes: I XV v Queens Rugby Club I XV, II XV v Cavan Rugby Club II XV, III XV v Cooke Rugby Club II XV: Report

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I XV Late Queens scores deny Bann

Bann went down to the second defeat of their Ulster League campaign after running out of steam in the final quarter hour of their home game against Queen’s.

Coach Daniel Soper was again forced to select from a squad severely hit by injury and unavailability, but the student ranks were similarly depleted. So it was to the credit of both sides that they put on an entertaining first half, the spectators being treated to a total of six tries with Bann finishing the half on the right side of a 25-22 scoreline.

Robin Thompson’s 8th minute penalty opened the scoring after Queen’s No 8 Tom Patton had picked up a yellow card for a high tackle. Four minutes later Stephen Irvine’s pass found Ryan Patterson on the right wing after a ruck five metres out and the stand-in lock just had to fall over the line for the opening score. Thompson struck over a fine conversion to take Bann 10-0 up.

Queen’s out-half Stuart McIlwaine sliced through the Bann defence to set up a try for left wing Richie McMaster in the 15th minute and Chris Quinn added the conversion.

From the re-start a blatant block earned Bann a penalty and Thompson’s kick again found the mark from 30 metres range.

But when full-back Quinn gathered up a kick well inside his own half, he set of on a run which took him through the ranks of Bann defenders and clear to the try line, adding the points for good measure to give his side a 13-14 lead with 25 minutes played.

Bann’s response was almost immediate, with Irvine picking up from a scrum to feed Jonny Pollock. The scrum-half found James Andrews and his pass to Stephen Cowan put the winger in under the posts, Thompson converting.

Eight minutes before the break Quinn again exposed the home side’s defensive fragility and he brushed aside several tackles en-route to the try line. His conversion missed the mark but a penalty four minutes later edged his side 20-22 in front.

But Bann again struck back before the interval with Irvine and Mark Wilson being held out before Pollock’s long pass was picked up by Paul Ross who dived over at the corner.

The tempo was less frenetic after the break, but Bann were fortunate to survive an extended period of pressure on their line during which winger Chris Best was yellow-carded for going over the top at a ruck three metres out.

Quinn’s successful penalty in the 56th minute tied the scores and the full back added the extras to McIlwaine’s well-worked try 10 minutes later after the home defence had been stretched to breaking point.

A fifth Queen’s try five minutes from the end denied Bann the losing bonus point their efforts deserved. And it was man-of-the-match Quinn who again did the damage, touching down and converting for a final personal tally of 29 points.

With the draw for this Saturday’s Senior Cup giving Bann a bye, coach Soper has arranged a friendly fixture against Dundalk for this Thursday, 8th September. Kick-off at Rifle Park is at 8.00pm.

Bann team v Queen’s:- Andrew Kirkwood, Christopher Best, Jonny Little, James Andrews, Stephen Cowan, Robin Thompson, Jonny Pollock, James McCrum, Paul Ross, Nelson Shanks, Ryan Patterson, Alan Conn, Dale Carson, Mark Wilson (Capt), Stephen Irvine. Replacements:- Colin Prime, Jamie McDonald, Clark McAllister.

Cowan brace see Seconds to first win

BANBRIDGE 2NDs 28 Cavan 17

Bann Seconds entertained Cavan in their second game of the season, and the first in the Conference League, again showing numerous changes from the selected team due to injury and unavailability.

The home side started strongly and had the visitors conceding penalties at the breakdown. From one of these John Ferris kicked the penalty 5 metres short of the line. The clean ball gained on the line out put Bann in a strong position, and their patience on the drive over the line rewarded second row Philip Jordan with the first try. The conversion by Clarke McAllister gave Bann a 7-0 lead.

The next five minutes saw Bann give a passage of play to the visitors, who, after failing with a penalty kick, took their points through a well taken drop goal to reduce the home side’s lead to four points.

Bann’s response was immediate, with another lineout five metres out being driven close to the Cavan line. Scrum-half Andy Cowan picked up from the ruck and darted through a gap on the blindside to touch down, leaving McAllister to add the extras.

With Bann now well in control up front, where the forward effort was being spearheaded by No 8 Andrew Davidson, the threequarters began to threaten the Cavan line. Strong runs from Adam Waugh, Jordan Weir and Calum Boland almost yielded a third try. But the visitors’ line held firm and further challenges from forwards Lee Allen, Michael McKee and Davidson were repelled.

Then Cavan put a speculative kick over the top of an erstwhile solid Bann defence. The cruellest of bounces saw the ball fall right into the arms of the only chasing Cavan player who raced in for a converted try to leave the interval score at 14-10.

Two promising moves early in the second half were spoiled by knock-ons but eventually clean lineout ball delivered Bann’s third try. Philip Jordan provided the initial thrust, supported by Davidson, but it was McKee’s 20 metre burst that took play to the Cavan line where the supporting Cowan was on hand to take the scoring pass. McAllister’s hit the mark with the conversion before transferring his services to the Firsts on the adjacent pitch as replacement winger.

Eventually Bann were able to get the score they deserved with 15 minutes to go. A scrum inside their own half produced quality ball for the backs to initially break down the right. The forwards were quick to support and when the ball was then moved left, they got involved in the support play that took them into the Cavan “22”. Bann kept the ball in hand and this allowed Jonnie McKim the luxury of not needing the extra man on the wing as he was able to sprint through for the try. Ferris moved the score on to 28-10.

Unfortunately, Bann seemed to go back into a ‘game won’ passage of play, and with five minutes to go, they allowed Cavan to drift up the pitch unopposed and score the try that their efforts deserved, but one that the home side should not have allowed.

Overall, given the changes in personnel over two matches, this was a satisfying result, with a number of players giving evidence of their ability to step up when required.

The Man-of-the-Match award was a closely run thing between Andy Davidson and Andy Cowan, but the latter got the nod for his two crucial tries.

Newly promoted Thirds win at Cooke

Cooke 2nds 13 BANBRIDGE 3RDs 15

Bann Thirds travelled to Belfast to take on Cooke Seconds in their first league game since earning promotion. With a very different side than the one that did the league and cup double last season, coach Andy Duke was nervous going into the game.

The match started with both sides using possession well to attack the opposition line, and for 15 minutes it was nip and tuck. Sam Boyd and Barney McKevitt put in some great tackles, while Ben Martin took some great lineout ball. Unfortunately, having made a very promising start on his comeback, Anthony Molloy fractured his rib in a tackle and had to go off. This meant extra work for the remaining backs and Stephen “Jacko” Jackson certainly stepped up to the mark. His tackling was ferocious and he constantly made ground in attack.

On the half hour mark, Bann opened the scoring with a penalty, superbly converted by Jake Fisher. This seemed to lift Bann and, taking advantage of a series of penalties that took play into the Cooke “22”, Sam Boyd broke from the base of an ensuing scrum and scored a try in the corner. Fisher narrowly missed the conversion to leave the halftime score 0-8.

Within five minutes of the restart Bann gave Cooke a penalty kick opportunity which they took to narrow the margin to five points. Cooke pushed on from this, and despite some great tackling from Matthew Bird and Kallan Martin, the home side soon won another penalty which they converted to narrow the gap further.

From the kick-off, Barney McKevitt and John Woods put the Cooke receiver under pressure with a great chase. He gave a penalty away for holding onto the ball on the ground. Bann opted to kick, and Fisher pulled his kick past the front of the posts. However fortune shone on Bann as the Cooke winger knocked the ball on giving Bann a scrum on the Cooke line. Andy Wilson was dominating his opposite number in the scrums and Bann won the ball comfortably. Cooke briefly stopped the attack, but McKevitt was able to roll off the ruck and use his strength to force his way over the line for a try. The touchline conversion was missed but Bann now had a nine point cushion, with the score at 6-15.

Cooke immediately struck back from the kick-off and following a series of silly errors on Bann’s part, they scored in the corner. The touchline conversion left just two points between the sides.

Bann then decided they wanted to win this match and the whole team lifted their game up another gear. With Tom Morrow providing great service from scrum half, and Willie Taylor and Chris Craig a potent strike force in the centre, Bann went on the attack. Ryan Ringland at hooker and Johnny Sleator in the second row worked hard to keep possession and hold onto their narrow lead.

Just before full time, Cooke were awarded a penalty just inside the Bann half. The kick was narrowly missed, Craig fielded the ball behind the posts and cleared the line.

The game was blown up shortly afterwards and Bann had started their new season in Junior League Division 1 with a great victory. Next up are Clogher Valley Seconds, who travel to Rifle Park on Saturday.

The man-of-the-match award went to out-half Jake Fisher for a tremendous all-round performance, both in attack and defence.

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