Banbridge Rugby I XV 31 v Naas Rugby I XV 28

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Bann keep in running with win at Naas
Naas 28 BANBRIDGE 1STs 31
April 2, 2011

Banbridge picked up the bonus point win they needed at Naas to keep alive their hopes of promotion from Division Three of the Ulster Bank All-Ireland League.

Rainey also recorded a five pointer at home to Wanderers, but Bann know that another bonus-point win this Saturday, when they host Highfield, will guarantee them a play-off against the bottom team in Division Two.

Director of Rugby John Best was well pleased with the team’s performance against Naas. “We left three or four tries out there”, he said after the game. “We had one try disallowed and fumbled another clear chance. The scrummaging was first class and undoubtedly laid the foundation for the win. Their No 8 and scrum-half did well to
tidy up some very scrappy set-piece ball.

“Locks Simon McKinstry and Chris Allen showed up well and Adam Ervine impressed at the base of the scrum, but hooker Jonny Murphy was outstanding, with some great work around the pitch and at the ruck.”

Ashley Finlay’s early try, rounding off a well-worked threequarter move and converted by Robin Thompson got Bann off on the right foot. But playing into the wind and up the slope they lost their way, with a series of offences allowing Naas full-back Dave Aherne to kick three penalties for a two point lead.

As the home continued to dominate possession, Aherne converted his own try to take his side 16-7 ahead. Thompson kicked a 35 metre penalty to keep Bann in touch but by the interval Naas had stretched their advantage to 21-10 thanks to a try from flanker Niall Carson.

Eight minutes after the re-start Murphy broke through two Naas tackles to score near the posts, making Thompson’s conversion a formality. As Bann continued to edge the exchanges they made their clear scrummaging advantage tell, driving the home pack back over their own line from a 5-metre scrum to win a penalty try.

Ban had to wait until five minutes from the end for their important fourth try. Again the scrum was the starting point. With the Naas eight going into reverse, Ervine and Thompson combined to set Jonny Pollock off on a run down the left flank. The winger found McKinstry with the final pass and the captain crashed over in the
corner, leaving Thompson to find the target again with a superb kick.

Naas had the final say, a last minute score from winger Donal Droney, converted by Aherne, earning them the losing bonus point they well deserved for their contribution to an entertaining game.

Looking forward to the home game against Highfield on Saturday, Best was in positive mood. “There’s some tidying up to be done at the lineouts,” he commented. “But if we scrummage as well as we did today and cut down on the penalty count I’m confident we can get the win we need.”

A four point win over the Cork side might be enough for Bann as they currently have a better points difference than Rainey. But that would make 16th April a very nervous Saturday for all concerned, especially as Bann’s final opponents are league leaders Seapoint. A bonus point win would render the result against Seapoint irrelevant and leave Bann to plan for that play-off, programmed for 30th April, and probably at Old Crescent.

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