LISBURN 31 BANN SECONDS 24
Teams playing in the Second XV and Conference Leagues are the only ones not allowed to carry replacements. And the problems that can pose were underlined in Saturday’s Conference league game at Lisburn when Bann Seconds saw a 10-24 lead just after half-time turned into a 24-31 defeat following the retirement through injury of out-half Robin Thompson.
An early Stephen Cowan try, converted by Thompson, had seen Bann off to a flying start. But the home side were allowed back into the game and while Bann were reduced to 14 men through Alan Conn’s yellow card, that 0-7 lead became a 10-7 deficit.
Thompson’s penalty approaching half-time levelled the scores and signalled the start of a purple patch for the visitors. Three great phases of play and superb off-loading from Thompson and Cowan allowed Paul Ross to go in at the posts, with the out-half adding the conversion.
Bann picked up where they had left off on the re-start and another well-worked try off a lineout saw flanker Ross pick up his second try, with Thompson again on target off the tee.
But soon afterwards Thompson picked up that knock that sidelined him for the remainder of the game. Lisburn gradually gained the upper hand against their numerically challenged opposition and ran in three converted tries for a bonus point win.
However Bann’s Team Manager Gareth Bronte was far from despondent. “The result was disappointing especially after we had made such a good start,” he commented. “But having played for 50 minutes of the game with only 14 men and still running them close, I feel confident about the remainder of our league programme.
“Matthew Bell and Shane Honeyford, who both played for Banbridge Academy last season, showed up well, as did Alan Conn and Paul Ross. But Stevie Cowan was undoubtedly man-of-the-match – he was superb in everything he did and had his best game in a Bann jersey for a number of years.”