Bangor RFC Notes: Hard Fought Victory @ Letterkenny RFC: I XV 17 v Letterkenny RFC I XV 14 ~ Report + Action Shots!

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In their last game of the season, Bangor travelled to Letterkenny in what turned out to be a tougher than expected game. With Letterkenny having taken the lead twice, Bangor came through late in the game to win by 14-17.
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On Grand National day, Bangor travelled to Letterkenny for their last game in this season’s league competition. The form book would have shown that Bangor were favourites, but with home advantage Letterkenny lived up to their outside bet billing and presented a major hurdle for the visitors to overcome. In a game where the lead changed repeatedly, it was Bangor who eventually got their nose in front, and then held on to win by 14-17.

In the shadow of Letterkenny’s impressive new clubhouse, the home side kicked off on a firm pitch and with the wind providing neither side with any major advantage as it crossed the pitch. The home side started with great determination and immediately put Bangor under pressure, both in open play and the set pieces. However, it was a scrappy affair, with three penalties awarded in the first two minutes of play. To their credit, Bangor defended well and weathered this opening onslaught, eventually winning a penalty for a high Letterkenny tackle. Keith Rossan stepped up and, with 10 minutes on the clock, put Bangor into the lead by 0-3.

This slender lead was short-lived. Bangor’s slick handling that marked last weekend’s game had suddenly deserted them. Despite winning the ball from the restart, and deciding to run it back towards the Letterkenny half, a missed pass threw the Bangor attack into disarray, allowing Letterkenny to take advantage and score under the posts. With the added conversion, the home side now led by 7-3. To compound this mistake, the Bangor forwards then got in front of Rossan’s restart, handing the advantage back to Letterkenny.

And so it was for the following 25 minutes – Bangor making good breaks and looking dangerous, only to drop a pass or knock-on in the tackle. The home side were playing with more determination and looked the more comfortable on the ball.

With just 3 minutes of the first half remaining, the pack started to put together some good rolling mauls, which pushed the Letterkenny defence back into their own twenty-two. From this platform, the ball came to Ryan Law who make the important line break before passing inside to Andrew Jackson. In typically determined fashion, Jackson charged for the line from 5 metres out and managed to touch down under the posts. What was most impressive was his awareness of the close attention of the photographer, and therefore remembered to hold his tummy in as he crossed the line. The simple conversion was kicked by Rossan, putting Bangor back into the lead by 7-10, which remained the score at half time shortly afterwards.

The second half continued in much the same vein as the first, with mistakes and penalties conceded by both sides. Bangor’s set pieces, however, were more secure, even taking a couple of scrums against the head. It took 15 minutes until the next score. The strong Letterkenny back line produced their best move of the game to split the Bangor defence and run in unchallenged to score under the posts. The successful kick now put Letterkenny back in front by 14-10.

Another 10 minutes passed with Bangor now applying the most pressure, but being stopped on each occasion by a determined and strong Letterkenny defence. However, Bangor were equally determined and continued to mount wave upon wave of attack in side Letterkenny’s twenty-two. Finally, it was Rossan who made the opening before passing to Richard Corbett who, like Jackson earlier, crashed over from 5 metres to touch down beside the right upright. Rossan added the conversion to restore Bangor’s lead by 14-17. Despite a penalty opportunity some minutes later, the score remained this way as the referee blew for the end of the game.

It is plain to see, and as Ballyclare discovered last week, Letterkenny are a different and difficult side to play on their home ground. Although there were notable absences, and with some last minute changes as well, this was a strong Bangor side that should have perhaps posted a more convincing score. However, their ability to dig in and come back from behind is to be commended. Hopefully the poor performances that marked the difficult middle section of Bangor’s league campaign are behind them and, having finished firmly in the middle of the table, can now build on recent successes during the pre-season preparations this summer, and look forward with confidence to the league and cup competitions starting in September. To Letterkenny, we say ‘au revoir’ as they now drop out of QL2 – we wish them well and a speedy return to winning ways.

Bangor team: S Irvine (c), A Jackson, J Harrison, R Meeke, R Corbett, M Coey, D McNally, R McCausland, C Harper, R Law, D Miller, M Aspley, C Morris, D Charles, K Rossan

Bangor scores: A Jackson (1T), R Corbett (1T), K Rossan (2C, 1P)

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