BANBRIDGE 43 QUB 20
Banbridge are now just one win away from securing the AIL Division 2A title after a 43-20 win over Queen’s at Rifle Park on Saturday.
They travel to Cork to face Sundays Well on Easter Saturday knowing a win of any kind will be sufficient thanks to a six-try bonus point win over the students.
Afterwards Coach Daniel Soper was full of praise for the professional manner his team displayed.
“ We did what we had to do. Even during the first half when things didn’t quite click for us at times, it still felt like we were the team more likely to pull away, and that’s what happened.
We got into our stride in the second half and when we created chances, especially out wide, we were clinical.”
Queen’s took an early lead when Bann infringed immediately after the kick-off, but a penalty from Andrew Magrath soon saw the home side level.
The university side also scored the game’s first try, scoring out wide after a spell of pressure to go 8-3 ahead.
Again their advantage was short lived. From a five metre scrum Stephen Irvine picked up and drove for the line, when he was stopped short prop Stuart Cromie was on hand to burrow over.
If Bann’s first try was about the power of the pack, the second was down to the finesse of the backs.
Adam Ervine put Andy Morrison into space down the left wing and as the cover defence came across to close him down, Morrison dinked a perfectly weighted grubber kick infield to allow Ian Porter to collect and score.
Magrath added the conversion put Bann 15-8 ahead at the interval.
Any hopes Queen’s had of a comeback were shot down in a blistering start to the second half that saw Bann run in a further four tries in quick succession.
A Queen’s lineout on the Bann 22 was overthrown allowing Morrison to send a clearance kick into the opposition half. Ervine outsprinted the defence to nudge the ball forward again before it sat up invitingly for the skipper to gather and touch down.
The bonus point securing try soon followed. Adam Doherty fielded a long clearance kick and accelerated through a gap to make 30 meters ground up the middle. Peter Cromie and Irvine made further inroads and when the ball was released wide Ervine was on hand to claim his second of the day.
The fifth try came after intelligent play from Ian Porter had forced Queen’s to knock the ball out of play just short of their own line. From the resulting lineout a well worked move saw Irvine canter over untouched.
Doherty got in on the action next when he finished off a move that began deep in the Bann half. Josh Cromie came in off his wing to make the initial headway, Phillip Jordan linked well and Doherty’s pace put him in at the corner.
Magrath converted three of the four second half tries to give his team an unassailable 43-8 lead with ten minutes remaining.
The visitors did grab a couple of consolation tries late on but it was too little, too late.
Whilst the results are all important at this stage of the season, Soper was also delighted with the manner of the victory.
“When we play the way we did for 30 minutes of the second half, no team can live with us. This time last season it felt like we were just grinding out results, this year we are getting stronger and stronger. To put 50 points past Malone and 40 past Queen’s in our last two home games of the season, has required two really impressive performances.”
Roll on Musgrave Park, Cork on Saturday as Bann go in search of their first league title since winning Ulster Qualifying One in 1998.