BANBRIDGE 50 CITY OF DERRY 5
Four tries in each half saw Banbridge cruise to a comfortable win over a City of Derry side feeling the full impact of nine close season departures.
But Coach Daniel Soper was anticipating a much more challenging task when the All-Ireland League kicks off this Saturday with the visit of Sunday’s Well to Rifle Park. “That performance underlined the strength of our attacking game, we’re pretty good with the ball at the minute”, he reflected after watching his squad record their most convincing win ever over the Maiden City side.
“We were certainly good on the counter-attack again but we need to show a bit more patience on the defensive side – we’re giving away penalties just too cheaply when we try to get the ball back quickly so that’s something for us to work on.
“We haven’t been overly tested apart from the Armagh game – that was very tough but we got our scores too easily. Going into next weekend that’s obviously going to be a different kettle of fish but hopefully the players can step it up again.”
Stephen Irvine kicked off the try scoring in the 9th minute after Stuart Cromie had peeled off the tail of a lineout 12 metres out, with Adam Doherty adding the conversion. Midway through the first half left winger Adam Ervine finished off from close range after Bann had moved the ball blindside from another lineout close to the visitors’ line.
The lineout again provided the foundation for Bann’s third with hooker Peter Cromie strolling in unopposed after the Derry defence had been hoodwinked. And six minutes before the break skipper Ervine raced in for his side’s bonus point try after centre Andrew Morrison had scythed through the Derry midfield defence, with Doherty stroking over his second conversion for a 24-0 interval lead.
Three minutes into the second period Ervine wrapped up his hat-trick when he intercepted just outside the opposition “22” to out-pace the cover defence, with Doherty adding the extras off the tee.
No 8 Stephen Irvine did the groundwork for the sixth try when his 40 metre surge took play inside the Derry “22”. He found John Porter in support and when the ball was re-cycled Morrison fended off a couple of defenders to touch down out wide.
For the first time in the game the visitors were able to mount a sustained attack on the home line and they got their reward in the 64th minute in the shape of an unconverted Craig Huey try for a 36-5 scoreline.
But it proved a brief respite as Bann hit back with two further touchdowns. Ervine was in sparkling form, bouncing back after a yellow-card intermission to make the initial break for flanker Robin Sinton to finish off under the posts, with the conversion a formality. And a rolling maul was finished off by Cromie, with Doherty’s fine conversion bringing up the half century.
Soper remarked on the strength in depth especially in the back three. “We’re very fortunate to have lots to choose from there, with good back-up on the Seconds. The good thing about that is that players have to go out there and perform and we saw that with Adam (Ervine) today as he picked up three fine tries. Two weeks ago against Armagh it was John Porter who shone with two tries on the other wing.
“So that’s good and we’ve competition coming through from the Twos in other positions. Chris Allen is under pressure from the bench and the Seconds and I thought he played particularly well today, so that competition for places is good.
“It’s hard to know where we are in relation to the AIL after a relatively easy build-up but obviously we’ll have to go up a gear. But 15 of the guys from today’s squad played in the last AIL game of last season so they know what to expect and they should be able to bring that intensity next week.”
Bann team v City of Derry:- Adam Doherty, John Porter, Andrew Morrison, Johnny Little, Adam Ervine (Capt), Macauley Little, Josh Cromie, Michael Cromie, Peter Cromie, Stuart Cromie, Chris Allen, Mike Bentley, Robin Sinton, Dale Carson, Stephen Irvine. Replacements: Lee Allen, James McCrum, Kallan Martin, Josh Agnew, Stephen Cowan.