Match Centre - October 31, 2015 - 2:00 pm

All Ireland League 

Banbridge RFCBanbridge RFC 1sts XV
Naas RFC

@ Rifle Park

Match Details

BANBRIDGE   11      NAAS    0

Banbridge had to produce another excellent defensive performance against a determined Naas side to claim their fourth success from six starts in Division 2A of the All-Ireland League.

The only try of the game came in the third minute of the action but while only two penalties were added before the final whistle the exchanges were frenetic as the two sides served up some thrilling if at times error-strewn rugby in the autumn sunshine.

An early attack by the visitors terminated in a dropped ball just inside their own half. Bann centre Jonny Little got a boot to it and aided and abetted by his midfield partner Clark McAllister the ball was hacked over the try line with the latter eventually effecting the touchdown.

Those five points separated the sides for the next 36 minutes although the big Naas pack and strong running of Naas centre Henry Bryce posed a constant threat to the home line.

Shandon Scott slotted over a 38th minute penalty but Bann had to withstand a prolonged siege at the end of the half to keep their line intact. Nico Vorster and Peter Cromie combined to stop Bryce from close range before Naas were awarded a penalty.

At the ensuing scrum Lee Steenson was yellow-carded for his efforts to clear the danger. Then Bann were penalised at the next set piece and the 14-man defence, with Chris Allen and Stephen Irvine literally putting their bodies on the line, eventually managed to hold Naas up as the referee blew for the interval.

It was a phase of play that was to prove decisive in the outcome of the game. Naas had further scoring opportunities in the second half, most notably when Bryce broke through two tackles inside the home “22”. But reinforced in their self-belief by that work at the end of the first half, the well-organised home defence re-grouped and, when possession had been retrieved, went on the attack at the other end.

Following a lineout just inside the Naas half a well-constructed backline move put McAllister in possession just seven metres out but he just failed to find Irvine with what would have been a scoring pass.

Scott was short with a penalty chance on 70 minutes, but Irvine ripped ball off the opposition and made 30 metres to set up a scoring chance for full-back Adam Ervine. He was hauled down short but the referee had been playing advantage and the out-half converted the 30 metre penalty for an 11 point lead.

Naas went all out for the score that would have earned a losing bonus point but even that eluded them on a day when Bann underline their tremendous defensive ability.

Bann coach Daniel Soper was in buoyant form when reflecting on a day that had also seen his home country lift the Rugby World Cup. “Two wins makes for a good day,” he said. “That’s the first time I can remember Bann not conceding any points, which is a fantastic effort against a team who had been averaging 25 points a game.

“We put together some good attacks but lacked the finishing touch. We face a big challenge in Cork on Saturday but we need to start picking up wins away from home to hit our targets.”

Bann team v Naas:- Adam Ervine,  John Porter, Clark McAllister, Jonny Little, Josh Cromie , Shandon Scott, Lee Steenson, Stuart Cromie, Peter Cromie, James McCrum, Chris Allen, Alan Conn, Nico Vorster, Dale Carson, Stephen Irvine. Replacements:- Fraser Mulholland, Ross Haughey, Mike Bentley , Jason Gribbon, Robin Thompson.

Yellow Card
Jason Gribbon← Clark McAllister
Michael Bentley← Nico Vorster
Fraser Mulholland← Peter Cromie