Match Centre - March 23, 2019 - 2:30 pm

All Ireland League 

Banbridge RFCBanbridge RFC 1sts XV
Naas RFC

@ Rifle Park

Match Details

BANBRIDGE   21     NAAS   42

Banbridge’s faltering hopes of repeating last season’s top four finish in Division 1B finally evaporated in an eight minute spell, near the end of this game, during which Naas scored three converted tries.

Having gone 11 points behind in the opening half hour of the game, Bann had hauled themselves back into contention by the 67thminute, when Stephen Irvine’s try, converted by Ian Porter had reduced the deficit to 14-18.

Even when Naas scrum-half Peter Osborne landed the last of his three penalties five minutes later, the home side were still within striking distance. But that penalty had been awarded for a reckless tackle by replacement winger Ben Carson and with Bann now reduced to 14 men the visitors’ attack cut loose, with Peter Cromie’s last minute touchdown offering nothing by way of comfort to him or his disconsolate team-mates.

Two Osborne penalties and an Andrew Ellis try had given Naas a 0-11 interval lead, with Bann failing to take advantage of a number of scoring opportunities which presented themselves with good field position.

Ian Porter’s 43rdminute penalty attempt was off target but with play remaining in the opposition half the home side got their reward when prop Stuart Cromie forced his way over from close range, leaving Porter to convert.

Despite the temporary loss of Chris Allen for a ‘no arms’ tackle, Bann were again on the attack in the 55thminute when Naas winger Fionn Higgins intercepted and sprinted home from70 metres out, Osborne adding the extras off the tee for a 7-18 lead.

Again Bann battled their way back through Irvine’s try, just reward for the No 8’s consistently strong ball-carrying, but it all fell apart in the closing stages. Half-backs Osborne and Peter Hastie touched down under the Bann posts and with Higgins grabbing his second try, the Rifle Park side were left pointless and needing at least one win from their two remaining games to claw their way clear of a relegation play-off place.

Bann chairman Robert Ervine thought that a lack of confidence was affecting the players. “With recent results not going our way the players just seem to lack the confidence that they played with last season,” he commented after the game. “The squad that took the field today was basically the same group of players that took us close to promotion last year. They haven’t become a bad team in the time since. It’s just small things that are making the difference, with some decisions going against us and at times a lack of patience in the ‘red zone’.

“Despite some disappointing results the players have continued to work hard in training and I know they’ll be ready to put in two more hard weeks on the training ground as we prepare for our visit to Buccaneers. We know that a win there will virtually secure our place in Division 1B next season.

“We don’t know at this stage what Ulster players will be available but with or without them the squad that travels will go down there determined to get the result they need.”

Bann team v Naas:- Adam Ervine, Conor Field, Andrew Morrison, Jonny Little, John Porter, Josh Cromie, Ian Porter, Michael Cromie (Capt), Peter Cromie, Stuart Cromie, Chris Allen, Robin Sinton, Dale Carson, Ethan Harbinson, Stephen Irvine. Replacements:- Jonny Weir, Ross Haughey, Matthew Laird, Aaron Kennedy, Ben Carson.