Bangor RFC Notes: Last gasp Lisburn RFC I XV Win @ Upritchard Park: Report & 33 Pictures

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The previous meeting at Lisburn had been a close affair with Bangor winning with the last kick of the match – today’s encounter saw Lisburn return the compliment.

In perfect playing conditions, and with a good crowd of supporters, Bangor hosted Lisburn at Upritchard Park. In a game where the lead see-sawed between the two sides, it was eventually the visitors who came through at the end to take the bonus point win by 33-35.
From Lisburn’s kick off, Bangor failed to collect the ball. In the scramble that ensued, Lisburn won the ball and pressed forward. Passing the ball wide, they met little opposition from Bangor, allowing then to score in the right hand corner. The conversion was missed, but Lisburn led by 0-5 with just a minute gone. Things then went from bad to worse when just 2 minutes later, more missed tackles and a poorly organised defence gave Lisburn another easy score in the same position to extend their lead to 10 points.

From their apparently sleepy start, Bangor then woke up and started to move the ball with more purpose. With untried player changes in both the backs and forwards, it was taking time for this new line-up to gel. However, they eventually did and, with 14 minutes gone, Jason Morgan made one of his characteristic line breaks into the Lisburn twenty two. Having drawn the Lisburn fullback, he passed to Chris Morgan who had a simple run in to score under the posts. With Keith Rossan’s successful conversion, the score was narrowed to 7-10.

Just 2 minutes later there was an unfortunate injury to one of the Lisburn wing forwards. Having attempted an awkward tackle on Serelli Magoon, he came off the worse and had to be stretchered off and receive hospital attention – we all wish him a speedy recovery.

The game resumed after a 14 minute delay, with Bangor keen to press home their advantage. It took just 6 minutes for Jason Morgan to receive a quick ball from the improving scrum, and run through the Lisburn defence to score under the posts. Rossan’s simple conversion now put Bangor in the lead by 14-10. Bangor were now starting to look better organised, and were looking as if they could now go on and close down the game.

However, Lisburn were ready to feed off any Bangor mistake or weakness, and this was the case when, having won their line-out on the left hand touchline, they produced a slick move across the backs, finished off with a chip ahead which they gathered and scored, again in the right hand corner. The kick was missed, but they were now in front again at 14-15. As the first half came to a close, the Lisburn lead was extended when they successfully kicked a penalty to turn around 14-18 ahead.

The second half got underway with Bangor applying all the early pressure. One of the newcomers to the 1st XV, Nathan Barnett, was growing in confidence and was starting to show his strength and ball-carrying ability. However, it was the dependable Jason Morgan who got the scores moving again with another well-taken individual try. Rossan’s conversion was missed this time, but Bangor had now edged back into the lead again by 19-18.

Bangor continued to keep play in the Lisburn half and had the visitors under constant pressure. This forced Lisburn to knock-on within their twenty two. With Ryan Law having picked up the loose ball, the referee played advantage to Bangor. Somehow, despite the attention of a number of Lisburn defenders, Ryan managed to scramble over the line to score under the posts. With Rossan’s conversion, Bangor now had a better lead again at 26-18.

Once more, Bangor seemed unable to build on this and close the game out. With just 3minutes added the Lisburn forwards pressed forward from their line-out and the Bangor defence were unable to stop the charge. The conversion was good, so Lisburn were once more only one point behind at 26-25.

With just 10 minutes to go, the game swung back towards Bangor when they stole a Lisburn line-out and moved back into the Lisburn half. The ball then came to Nathan Barnett whose strength and determination took him over for a well-deserved try. Once more, Rossan was on target with the conversion, and Bangor now had breathing space again at 33-25.

However, the drama continued. Just minutes from the restart, Serelli Magoon was yellow-carded for a high tackle, and would therefore take no further part in the game. Lisburn successfully took the penalty kick, knowing that this would give them the chance of winning with a converted try, or at least give them a losing bonus point if there was no further score. Bangor on the other hand just had to hold out for a few minutes more to secure a bonus point win. On the balance of play, a final result of 33-28 would have been fair outcome.

However, in an unfortunate refereeing incident, a Lisburn knock-on that was flagged by the touch judge, and seen by almost everybody else, was not brought back, allowing the surprised Lisburn players a free run to score close to the posts. With the score now at 33-33, the Lisburn kicker stepped up and slotted over the conversion. The referee blew for full time, and Lisburn duly celebrated what they would consider a deserved win, especially given the manner in which they lost earlier in the season when Bangor won with the last kick of the game. Bangor picked up 2 bonus points for their efforts – one for scoring 4 tries, and the other for finishing within 7 points of the winners. However, it could so easily have been 5 points.

Bangor’s despondency continues. In a frustrating game for the spectators, moments of excellence were nullified by periods of ineffectual tackling and avoidable mistakes. On a more positive note, the players who have come through the ranks of the 2nds and 3rds have stepped up to the mark and deserve to see much more action on the 1sts team next season.

There is a 2-week gap until the game against Dungannon 2nds in the Conference League, then the final league game of the season away to Letterkenny. Although Bangor are not in the league’s danger zone, they have been moving inexorably downwards in recent weeks, and will be hoping to finish the season on a winning note, on which to reflect and build for a hopefully more competitive campaign starting in September.

Bangor team: S Magoon, P Nicol, J Harrison, R Corbett, F Black, D McNally, N Barnett, M Coey, R Armstrong (c), R Law, J McMullan, J Morgan, M Aspley, K Rossan, C Morgan

Bangor scores: J Morgan (2T), C Morgan (1T), N Barnett (1T), R Law (1T), K Rossan (4C)

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