Friend’s School Lisburn entertained Banbridge Academy Medallion in the Quarter Final of the Danske Bank Medallion Trophy in what was to be a very entertaining and skillful game.
Both sides had met recently in a friendly in which Banbridge came away the comfortable victors and they went into this fixture as favourites.
The game kicked off at a frantic pace and the more physical Banbridge pack started to dominate the collision areas, mixed with a few poor handling errors from the home side Banbridge were able to build the momentum.
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However set piece was a different matter with Friends dominationg the scrums and lineouts but this did not stop the visitors running in two converted tries on 10 and 15 minutes marks, 0-14
Although 14 points down Friends had started to focus and put together some good periods of play. on a turnover ball from a Banbridge ruck Friends back line let loose with great handling from Curtis Dundas and Ryan Hall who held the Banbridge defence and popped the ball to supporting runner Rian McGoldrick to score, try was converted by hooker James Maxwell, 7 – 14.
Friends followed this pressure up on the visitors defensive line resulting in a penalty which Maxwell kicked, 10 -14.
Friends sustained pressure resulted in two more kickable penalty decisions but on both occasions they elected to turn the points down and go for a tap ball which was fumbled and a lineout which they failed to score from.
From the 20th minute of the game Friends had been the dominant side but the half time score remained at 10-14.
Three minutes into the second half Maxwell scored Friends second try out wide, conversion missed, 15-14.
Banbridge put the pressure on the home side from the restart and on the 7th minute of the half scored a good unconverted try, 15-19.
Friends responded with strenght and pace resulting in three scoring opportunities which Banbridge held off on their line but Friends were soon to be rewarded with a pick up off the back of the scum by number 8 Gareth Hill, who off loaded to centre Dundas to scored wide of the posts, conversion missed, 20-19.
Friends remained the dominant side with the game playing out in Banbridge’s half and with 2 minutes to go there were a serious of defending scrums, Banbridge were unable to make a clearance kick if they wanted to win the game but they could not break away from Friends until a missed tackle out wide let the skillful Banbridge left wing break another tackle to make his way to within 6 meters of the home line. Friends replacement scrumhalf Adam Scholfield got his hands on the ball, but unsighted by the official due to bodies between him and the breakdown the visitors were able to release the ball for an attack which Friends defended well against, unfortunately a Friends defender had stepped offside in the backline and Banbridge attacked this way resulting in a penalty against Friends infront of the posts and the last play of the match, final score 20-22. A horrible way to loose a game but a great way to win one!
The game was intense and very entertaing for the large crowd of home and away support. The referee had let the game flow and this aided the fast and free running game.
Friends wish Banbridge good luck in the Semi-Final and now Friends look forward to their tour to Italy in March