Bangor RFC Notes: Good form continues: I XV 39 v Lisburn RFC I XV 10: Report + Action Shots Live!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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On a warm and sunny afternoon, Bangor travelled to Lisburn for what was the home side’s first league game this season. Despite a tentative first half, Bangor lifted their game in the second to record another impressive bonus point victory by 10-39. CLICK HERE FOR THE SHOTS
Playing into a slight breeze, the home side got proceedings underway. Like Randalstown last week, Lisburn started with great gusto and prevented Bangor from mounting any meaningful attack. After just 3 minutes, their persistence won them a penalty just to the right of Bangor’s posts, but the kick went wide. Bangor’s back line, unchanged from last week apart from the return of Keith Rossan to out half, looked the more dangerous in attack, and this was evident after a further 9 minutes, when Josh Devitt cut through to release Jason Morgan. It looked like a certain try but, to Lisburn’s credit, the retreating defenders wrapped themselves around Morgan as he crossed the line, preventing him from grounding the ball. However, from the resulting five metre scrum, scrum half and captain Ricky Armstrong got the ball and darted over to the left hand side of the posts to get the first try of the game. Rossan was obviously a little rusty after his holidays and missed the kick, but at least some points were now on the board and Bangor led by 0-5.

Bangor’s game was now starting to come together, but they were being continually frustrated by both the Lisburn defence, and their own mistakes. It was not until the 24th minute that Bangor had another scoring opportunity, this time from a penalty from the Lisburn ten metre line. This kick was missed, but within a minute, Lisburn conceded another penalty in a much more kickable position. This time Rossan was successful and the score moved on to 0-8.

With this score, and the fact that the home side had not been in a position to trouble the Bangor line, Bangor may have felt that the game was now moving their way. However, just 7 minutes later the Lisburn back line produced their best move of the day, running the ball wide to avoid the chasing Bangor defence, to score in the corner. The difficult conversion was missed, but the score had been pegged back to 5-8. The Bangor supporters felt edgy again, especially when just a couple of minutes later, another penalty kick went begging.

As the first half was drawing to a close, the Bangor players were determined to have more to show for their efforts. Once more Devitt cut through, but was just held short of the line. From the resulting five metre scrum, Bangor decided to keep the ball in the forwards, until a gap appeared for Stephen Gilliland to crash over for a try in the corner. Rossan’s difficult conversion from the touchline was successful and, with the whistle going for half time, the score was a more comfortable 5-15.

Whatever coach Rupert Preston said to his players at half time, it seemed to have the desired effect as, within the first 10 minutes of the second half, Bangor secured their bonus point and effectively closed out the game. It started just 2 minutes from the restart, when the revitalised Bangor pack pushed Lisburn off their own scrum. Quick ball from Armstrong was passed to Devitt who, in turn, passed to Morgan who dummied the approaching defender to score under the posts. The simple conversion added the extras, and the score was now 5-22. Then just 3 minutes later, Lisburn were once more pushed off their scrum, conceding a penalty in the process. The subsequent dissent from some of the Lisburn players cost them a further ten metres, making the penalty more kickable. Rossan accepted the opportunity and moved the score to 5-25. After a further 3 minutes, more crisp movement of the ball across the back line released Devitt who this time managed to hold off the Lisburn defence to power over for a try and secure the bonus point in the process. Once more, Rossan kicked the conversion, bringing the score to 5-32.

With the Bangor forwards having the upper hand, the backs were now ready to pounce on any opportunity they got. This was most evident when, after Nick Hatton had doggedly hassled and won the ball from his opposite number, the ball came to centre Mike Aspley who broke through before passing to Armstrong who held off the defending tacklers to score under the posts. With Rossan’s conversion, the score was now 5-39.

With 15 minutes to go, and the game now all but won, Bangor appeared to sit back and allow Lisburn to come back at them. To their credit, Lisburn lifted their game and mounted a final assault in an attempt to restore some pride. It was now Bangor who had to defend, but in so doing were conceding penalties. Kicking for goal was not an option for Lisburn, so they kept running at Bangor. Eventually the referee lost patience with Bangor’s repeated infringements, and yellow carded Jake Harrison. Finally, in the final minute of the game, Lisburn made the most of this gap in the Bangor defence to run in their second try. The conversion was missed and, with the referee’s final whistle, the game was over with Bangor winning by 10-39.

Next week sees Bangor take on Instonians 2nds at Shaws Bridge in the preliminary round of the Junior Cup. This should be an interesting match, given the number of current Bangor players and coaching staff that were previously involved with this Belfast club. It is hoped that the good level of travelling support seen at Lisburn will be repeated for this eagerly anticipated game.

Bangor team: J Harrison, M Coey, C Schofield, S Gilliland, C Stewart, G Irvine, N Hatton, J Clegg, R Armstrong (c), K Rossan, J Devitt, M Aspley, J Morgan, D Charles, C Morgan

Bangor Scores: R Armstrong (2T), S Gilliland (1T), J Devitt (1T), J Morgan (1T), K Rossan (2P, 4C)

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