COOKSTOWN 26 BANN FOURTHS 10
With the help of the last minute call up of Jake Dennison and the veteran John Mullan, Bann 4ths made the trip to Cookstown to take on their 1st string. Short of a recognised hooker, captain John Woods stepped up and took on the job. The weather was atrocious but that didn’t stop both sides throwing the ball around.
After 15 minutes the Cookstown pack set up a driving maul which resulted in the first try of the game. It was converted from the touchline for a 7-0 lead. And soon after the home side added a second try for a 12-0 lead.
Bann started to play with the ball as Matthew Bird won them possession which was well taken on by his back row partners Brian O’Shaughnessy and Alan Thompson. During this good period there were a series of great line breaks from Jerry Ramsey, Paul Cairns and Chris Nelmes- vintage stuff!
With 30 minutes gone, Nelmes took a bang to the knee and had to leave the field and with no subs to bring on Bann were down to 14 men.
There followed a series of penalties which allowed Bann to make their way up the pitch. A missed kick to touch was chased by the effervescent Bird who caught the defender in possession, robbed the ball which was then mauled by Bann over line with Paul McNally effecting the touchdown. The conversion was narrowly missed but Bann were now back in the game at 12-5.
The start of the second half saw Bann’s front five start to dominate. Super work from Thomas Thornton, Dennison, Cairns and Tim Sinton, both in the scrum and the loose gave Bann plenty of ball to play with, but they couldn’t turn the possession into points. Man of the match Kris Coleman, at scrum half kept everything moving at pace and Bann continually tried to get the ball wide to McNally at outside centre, and wings Andrew Crory and Jonny Sergeant. A very mature performance from full-back John Mullan ensured Bann kept making ground with some great probing kicks downfield.
Cookstown eventually worked their way back into the Bann half and after great defence the home out-half put in a superb crossfield kick to his winger who scored in the corner. The try was well converted for a 19-5 advantage.
Bann immediately conceded a penalty on kick off which Cookstown converted for three more points.
The rest of the game was to be Bann’s. Nelmes returned to the fray to restore the numbers and Bann ran the ball at every opportunity. With the pack and Coleman again providing the quick ball Ramsey, McNally, Bird, Sinton and Cairns all took charges at the opposition. Eventually a quick penalty to Bann saw O’Shaughnessy crashing over for a great try. Mullan narrowly missed the conversion to leave the final score at 22-10.
This was a game against the league leaders, and, as the opposition captain told our team after the match, but for the injury to Nelmes, the result could well have gone our way.
This performance was a great effort by all. Dennison’s performance at tight head is worthy of note and any team that has Bird in it is sure to see plenty of ball. Roll on next week!