Bangor RFC Notes: I XVII 29 v Banbridge RFC II XVII 13 REPORT + SHOTS TOWNS Cupp

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    Win at Banbridge earns Towns Cup quarter final place

In difficult playing conditions, Bangor came from behind to defeat a hard working Banbridge 2nds by 13-29, and in so doing progress to the quarter finals of this year’s Powerade Towns Cup competition.

Once again the weather threatened to disrupt the weekend games. With the 3rds game at Randalstown already postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, fears were that the 1sts game at Banbridge would be similarly affected. However, the relatively new pitches at Banbridge Academy came to the rescue and the game could go ahead. The well-drained surface probably owed much to its location at the top of an elevated position above the school – the down side to this was that it was completely exposed to the prevailing wind, which blew strongly from one end to the other, something that would greatly affect the way the game would need to be played.
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Bangor got the game underway, kicking off against the wind. Having received the ball, Banbridge wisely used this to their advantage and kicked deep into Bangor’s twenty two. The ball was well fielded by full-back Davy Charles, but his clearance kick made little impression against the breeze. Having not made touch, Banbridge collected and ran straight back. Neil Cuthbertson made the defensive tackle but was clearly offside, giving Banbridge a penalty which they kicked to take the lead 3-0 with just one minute played.

Bangor didn’t appear to have grasped the impact of the wind in their faces, and were guilty of kicking away possession when the more sensible option would have been to be to keep the ball in hand. Another poor clearance kick fell short again and was gathered by Banbridge who ran down their left wing to score in the corner. The kick was missed, but with just 8 minutes gone, Banbridge were 8-0 ahead.

Although initially surprised by this poor start, anybody who has watched Bangor this season will know that they have shown themselves to be masters of the determined fight-back, and this game was to be prove the same. Bangor started to string together some good phases of play, keeping the game within Banbridge’s half. Eventually, having attacked the line a couple of times without success, Jamie Clegg got the ball from the base of a ruck and powered over from short distance to score on the left hand side. Neil Cuthbertson’s conversion attempt was right on line, but was stopped dead in the air and fell just short of the posts. However, Bangor were now starting to get into their stride and had narrowed the gap to 8-5, with just over a quarter of the game gone.

With Bangor now applying most of the pressure, the home side found themselves repeatedly penalised for infringements at the breakdown, until eventually the referee showed the yellow card to the Banbridge hooker for killing the ball once too often. Not long afterwards, the resulting advantage to Bangor in the scrums came to the fore. From a scrum on the Banbridge twenty two, Clegg gathered and passed to centre Mike Aspley. Although caught by a Banbridge forward, he managed to slip out of the tackle and sprint through a small gap in the defence to score under the posts. Cuthbertson kept his kick low and added the extras to put Bangor ahead by 8-12.

From the restart, Bangor were caught in possession and conceded a penalty for not releasing. The Banbridge kicker scuffed his kick and the ball went dead. As if to return the compliment, the following restart saw Banbridge commit a similar offence giving Bangor a penalty close to the half way line. The quickly taken tap kick by Ricky Armstrong was then passed to hooker Andrew Jackson on Banbridge’s ten metre line who set off to make some hard yards for his fellow forwards to build on. However, having forced his way out of an initial Banbridge tackle he simply kept going, pushing away the attentions of other defenders until he made it to the line, scoring under the posts. Cuthbertson’s kick was successful and the score was now 8-19. With the referee blowing for half time a few minutes later, Bangor were in control and no doubt looking forward to playing with the wind at their backs in the second half.

Although Bangor started confidently and were right on Banbridge’s line within minutes of the restart, it was the home side that seemed the more determined, successfully holding their line and quickly turning defence into attack. In fact, they seemed to have learned from Bangor’s kicking nightmare in the first half, working the ball patiently through their hands, and denying Bangor much meaningful possession.

However, there was no denying that the wind would now assist Bangor’s kicking. It was therefore no surprise that Cuthbertson converted a penalty opportunity after 15 minutes after Banbridge had infringed in a scrum.

With the score now 8-22, Bangor now looked to be on their way to a comfortable win. To Banbridge’s credit, they kept to their game plan and were suitably rewarded after some good interplay down their right wing resulted in a maul close to Bangor’s line which was eventually driven over for a try, narrowing the scoreline to 13-22.

Unfortunately the home side’s success was almost immediately cancelled out when they dropped the ball from Bangor’s restart, allowing Clegg to pick up and drive for the line. Although stopped short, he managed to pop the ball to James Henly in close support who made the final few metres to score under the Banbridge posts. With Cuthbertson’s conversion, Bangor had extended their lead to 13-29, with just over 10 minutes of play remaining. With the game’s outcome no longer in question, and mounting injuries on the Banbridge side, the referee brought proceedings to an end shortly afterwards.

Having played no competitive rugby for two weeks, Bangor looked rusty at first, but eventually produced a workman-like performance that saw their direct approach produce results. Next week sees a return to QL1 action, this time away to close rivals CIYMS. As this is one of our not-so-far-away games, a large travelling contingent would certainly provide much needed support for the players as they continue their league campaign.

Bangor side: P Whyte, A Jackson, J Harrison, A Rushe, R Corbett, J Henly, R Latimer, J Clegg (c), R Armstrong, M Thompson, M Widdowson, M Aspley, G Irwin, N Cuthbertson, D Charles

Subs: F Black, B Worthington

Bangor scores: J Clegg (1T), M Aspley (1T), A Jackson (1T), J Henly (1T), N Cuthbertson (1P, 3C)

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