MALONE SECONDS 15 BANN SECONDS 23
Banbridge started well playing into the wind, keeping possession for numerous phases, and they were unlucky not to open the scoring as early as the 4th minute. A powerful run from inside centre Cameron Cromie saw play taken deep inside the home “22” but the referee penalised a support player for a ruck infringement when a try seemed inevitable.
The visitors did score after 12 minutes, with Cromie again doing the damage. The young centre surged over from 30 metres out, leaving behind at least five would be tacklers to score a try that went unconverted.
A strong wind mixed with a few showers left playing conditions difficult but the youthful Bann side were playing with great control, Out half Macauley Little, returning after a long period of injury, was able to keep a good balance between forwards carrying the ball and letting his backs, especially Cromie and Geoff Thompson make some hard yards.
From the restart kick off, 18 year old Robin Sinton, playing his first game for the Seconds, set off on a 60 metre run, showing a remarkable turn of pace and a strong hand-off to test the Malone defence. Sinton was later to leave the game with an injury but not before he had done enough to prove he has a bright future at this level and beyond.
From a scrum on the right hand side, Sinton picked and fed Gribbon who cleverly drew the last man to put full back Stephen Cowan in at the corner for the second, and again unconverted try.
Confidence was high in the Bann ranks and a Little penalty on 25 mins pushed them further ahead to a 13-0 lead.
As the half wore on Malone started to use the wind more to their advantage and were able to keep the pressure on the visitors for a 15 minute spell, which yielded an unconverted try just on the stroke of half time and a 5-13 interval scoreline.
The wind at their backs in the second half saw the visitors trying to play a territorial game but it was often made difficult as the wind increased and conditions worsened.
A breakaway try from the home team saw the gap narrow to just 3 points, but normal service was soon resumed after a shaky home lineout saw a loose ball hacked through from Cromie who dived over to push Bann 18-10 to the good.
A good lineout take from David Little and well-worked driven maul from eight metres out saw Banbridge home and secured the bonus point as Alan Conn dotted down, while the home side scored a late consolation try from the last play of the game.
Coach Simon McKinstry was pleased with the win. “Another solid performance”, was how he summed up the afternoon’s work. “The opening 25 or 30 mins into the wind is about as well as we have played all season. That’s 15 league points from our last 3 games.
“Our young players are doing really well. Cameron (Cromie) was the best player today, Andrew Jackson was outstanding with some massive tackles, and Robin Sinton didn’t look out of place, so hopefully it bodes well for the future.
“If the Seconds can keep coming to training, they’re only going to get better. Training with the Firsts will definitely help them. We had Paul Ross, Andy Brown, and Chris Watt unavailable today too, so we’re starting to get a bit of competition for places which is great.”