BANGOR SECONDS 15 BANN THIRDS 8
On Saturday Bann Thirds travelled to play Bangor Seconds hoping to kick off their Crawford Cup campaign. Due to traffic issues the youthful Banbridge side were late to arrive and were only able to have a ten minute warm-up. From the outset the experienced Bangor side showed that they intended to play an expansive game of rugby throwing the ball about and hoping to break down the Banbridge side but some astute tackling by Calum Boland and Stephen Cowan kept the Banbridge line intact.
Bangor continued to apply pressure to the Bann line but wave after wave of attack was repelled. However with a penalty advantage awarded to Bangor their out half put in a delicate cross field kick, the bounce favoured the onrushing Bangor centre and a last ditch tackle from Chris Berry only slowed down the inevitable score when the centre off-loaded, allowing the winger to touch down in the corner.
A disappointed Banbridge hit back with intent and a turnover from Mark Magowan gave the visitors ball inside the Bangor half. Stevie Cowan and Shane Honeyford marshalled the play using Nelson Shanks and Matthew Shirlow to find holes in the Bangor defence. A great line break from Chris Craig brought play to just outside the “22” and an infringement at the breakdown gave Craig a penalty opportunity which he duly converted.
After half-time Bann continued to try to gain a foothold in the Bangor half with some strong running from Jack Macauley and Jonny Campbell but a turnover gave Bangor the ball. They moved it straight away, finding an overlap in the Banbridge defence which they were able to exploit to score in the corner. The conversion was missed.
Undaunted, Bann continued to take the game to the opposition with Stuart Marshall and Gareth Briggs making heavy charges into the Bangor defence but a knock on gave Bangor a scrum 40 m out from the Bann line. A controversial decision from the referee, when the visiting pack had the Bangor eight under so much pressure that the Bangor front row stood up, gave Bangor a penalty. The disappointed pack turned their backs and the Bangor scrum-half was able to capitalise, running the forty metres to the line to score in the corner unopposed.
With time starting to tick away Bann continued to apply pressure with Adam Stirling and Jordan McKibbin making huge breaks with seemingly little to no space to work in. Another half break from Craig put Bann in a great position and some continued driving on the Bangor line from the pack forced a penalty out of the Bangor defence. A quick tap found Calum Boland ten metres from the line. Hemanaged to truck it up and break one tackle before dragging two other defenders over the line with him to score. The conversion was missed.
For the remainder of the game Bann continued to edge the exchanges as they tried to get the score that would take the game into extra time. But each time they got close they knocked on or turned over the ball and Bangor held out for the win. The youthful Rifle Park side, who continue to improve week in week out, will hope to get their league campaign back on track this week when they face Omagh Thirds at home.