RANDALSTOWN U-16s 19 BANN U-16s 29
Last Saturday Bann 16s travelled to Randalstown, a venue where they’ve always struggled to get a positive result. The home side tried to impose their presence from the off as Bann struggled to get going.
However the Rifle Park lads took hold of the match by big carries from the forwards. This set up an excellent platform for the backline to attack and they profited through moving the ball wide through the hands with James Buller running in under the posts for Darren Sloane to convert.
It became clear that if Bann ran at the opposition they would struggle to cope with the pace of the visitors’ backs. Unfortunately the penetrating power of the threequarters was diminished by the loss of centre Keiffer McKnight to injury following a heavy tackle.
Randalstown scored almost immediately from the re-start, when Bann failed to clear their lines. The visitors then started to dictate and took a firm hold on the match when further good carries by forwards Conor Doherty, Adam Cairns, Jonny Simpson and the ever imposing Aaron Graham resulted in the latter scoring.
Sloane’s conversion was off-target but the impressive centre took advantage of some great work by his rampaging forwards to cross for his side’s third try, this time adding the conversion.
Randalstown responded in kind, with Bann’s indiscipline contributing to them conceding a second try for a 12-19 interval scoreline.
The early second half exchanges were hard-fought, but a charge-down kick put the visitors under severe pressure, with a high tackle leaving the referee no option but to award a penalty try which levelled the scores going into the final quarter.
It was only in the later stages that Bann managed to get a foothold again. Big carries from Doherty and Calvin Irvine saw the latter crash over from close range.
This seemed to re-ignite Randalstown, but as they went in search of an equalizing try a superb tackle saw the ball spilt in midfield. It was recycled by the Bann forwards and out-half Will Cromie was put in the clear for his side’s fifth try.
James Buller was voted Man of Match as he had a superb day running with ball and attacking at will.
Stand-in coach Raymond Reid acknowledged that the squad still had work to do. “The scrums and rucking were excellent all day,” he said. “But the lineout was poor throughout and the lads need to learn to keep it simple – don’t over complicate things.”