Match Centre - February 6, 2016 - 2:30 pm

All Ireland League 

Banbridge RFCBanbridge RFC 1sts XV
Skerries RFC

@ Rifle Park

Match Details


Banbridge got their bid for promotion from Division 2A of the Ulster Bank All-Ireland League firmly back on track with a bonus point win over Skerries on Saturday.

With Naas failing to pick up a bonus point at Queen’s the gap between the sides at the top has now stretched to three points with four games remaining.

Understandably Coach Daniel Soper was happy with the result, although he said afterwards that his players looked a bit flat. “I think they worked out early on that they were probably going to win and that affected their attitude,” he said.

“That’s no disrespect to Skerries at all because they actually displayed a lot of qualities that belied their league position. But our lads have been driven hard since early season – it’s a credit to them that they’ve continued to step up but I think today they were starting to show a bit of fatigue. That performance falls short of what they’re capable of.”

Tired or not, Bann scored three tries into the wind in the first half for a 19-3 lead that Skerries never looked like overtaking despite a valiant comeback that saw them outscore the home team 7-14 after the break.

Ten minutes in Stephen Irvine grabbed the first try after Bann had turned over ball close to the visitors’ line. Eight minutes later Skerries out-half Ciaran Frawley kicked a penalty from in front of the posts after Bann had been caught offside at a ruck.

But Bann hit back soon afterwards, with Josh Cromie’s tapped penalty inside the opposition “22” setting up two recycles for his brother Peter to finish off close to the posts, with Adam Doherty adding the conversion.

Then two minutes before the interval Andrew Morrison counter-attacked from a Skerries kick and efficient rucking allowed Jonny Little to burst through a spreadeagled defence and claim the third try, with Doherty again on target off the tee.

Skerries dominated the opening exchanges in the second half and fully deserved the try scored by scrum half Eoghan Carron and converted by Frawley, although Soper will have been unhappy with his side’s defending against the counter-attack from the halfway line.

In the 66th minute Bann set up a five metre lineout from a penalty, but Skerries won a scrum when Stuart Cromie just failed to hold the throw-in. Skerries were penalised at the set piece and when Bann opted for the re-set, the visitors again infringed as Bann edged towards the try line and the referee ran behind the posts to signal a penalty try, which Doherty converted.

Skerries second try, dotted down by John Condron and converted by Robbie Jenkinson, put them within reach of a losing bonus point but they were unable to add to their tally in the 11 minutes remaining.

“Those five points could be pretty significant”, said Soper. “I think the players hit a bit of a wall after so many big games. I think I’ve been sounding like a broken record saying that every game over the last few weeks was the biggest one of the season.

“But they’ll have this week off and then we’ll re-group for the Nenagh game. We’ve always had tough games against them, especially down there and I’m sure it’ll be no different this time. They’re only two points off a promotion play-off slot so we can expect a real battle.

“That’s the great thing about the new league structure – you have six teams battling at the top for promotion and three of the other four fighting to avoid relegation. It’ll certainly sustain interest and competitiveness right to the last game.”

Bann’s team against Skerries:- Adam Doherty, Adam Ervine (Capt), Andrew Morrison, Jonny Little, Clark McAllister, Shandon Scott, Josh Cromie, Stuart Cromie, Fraser Mulholland, Colin Bickerstaff, Chris Allen, Kallan Martin, Peter Cromie, Dale Carson, Stephen Irvine. Replacements:- Thomas Carlisle, Mike Bentley, Robin Sinton, Jason Gribbon, Miles O’Hagan.

Jason Gribbon← Adam Doherty
Michael Bentley← Peter Cromie
Tom Carlise← Stuart Cromie
Robin Sinton← Christopher Allen
Miles O’Hagan← Clark McAllister