CIYMS THIRDS 32 BANN FOURTHS 14
Bann Fourths made a good start to their first match of the season against an athletic looking CIYMS side at Belmont.
The game was nip and tuck with Bann’s back row of Adam Kelly, Neal Cochrane and Matthew Bird covering a lot of ground both in defence and attack.
Twenty five minutes in CI were awarded and converted a penalty. After veteran Eadie had taken a huge hit he was forced to retire with a rib injury, with the equally experienced Paul Cairns taking his place.
Bann continued to try to move the ball with scrum-half Chris Berry and debutant out-half Jordan Mullan combining well. Unfortunately 27 minutes in, CI intercepted a pass from the Bann pivot and ran in from halfway for the game’s first try. Following the successful conversion the home side resumed on the attack and slotted over a penalty for a 13-0 lead.
CI began to dominate the exchanges and despite gallant tackling from the midfield duo of Jerry Ramsey and Niall McAlinden as well as the hard-working John Woods at full-back, the Belfast side added a second converted try for a 20-0 interval lead.
The second half got off to a bad start, with CI going in for an unconverted try. But Bann rallied after this setback with an increasingly effective front row of Thornton, Ringland and Campbell aided by the mobility in the loose of locks Tim Sinton and Cairns. New winger Stefan Patterson got few chances to run with the ball but when he did he demonstrated tremendous pace and great potential.
Mid-way through the second half Kelly turned over ruck ball and fed Berry. The scrum-half made a fine break before linking with the supporting McKevitt, who cut in from the flank to sprint the 25 metres to the try line, with Mullan adding the extras off the tee.
Bann were now in the ascendancy, running the ball at every opportunity, and after the forwards had taken advantage of a series of tap penalties to take play deep into the CI “22”, Berry fed Kelly from the base of a ruck and the No 8 proved unstoppable. Mullan’s conversion took the score to 25-14 but Bann’s efforts to further reduce the deficit proved fruitless and deep into what seemed interminable injury time CI picked up their bonus point try.
Given that this was their first game of the season, it was encouraging to see the teamwork improve over the course of the game. Special thanks to John Mullan who changed at the side of the pitch to fill in after as late cry-off. He got to play with his elder son Jordan, who showed real potential.
The whole team tried tremendously hard and did themselves proud, but the two men-of-the-match were undoubtedly Matthew Bird and Adam Kelly.