BANBRIDGE THIRDS 47 GROSVENOR SECONDS 6
Bann Thirds took to the pitch full of confidence after the previous week’s cup victory and they weren’t long taking the lead with Shane Honeyford scoring in the fourth minute after a sniping run from the base of a ruck. Outhalf Alan Thompson converted the kick from in front of the posts.
The home side built on that encouraging start and continued to play attacking rugby. Hooker Gareth Briggs showing great hands interlinked with the backs and when the ball was moved wide to Adam Stirling the full-back stepped back inside to touch down with the resultant kick missed from out wide.
With Grosvenor reduced to 14 men, Bann piled on the pressure and from a well worked lineout catch and drive Jonny Weir was able to break from the back and cut his way over the line. The conversion was sent wide of the posts. Weir who was having a great game had to leave the field early due to injury and his replacement, lock Stuart Marshall, wasn’t long making his presence felt.
However poor discipline cost Bann two penalties which Grosvenor successfully kicked to take the score to 17-6.
Unfortunately for the visitors this was the last impact they would have on the scoreboard. Great hands in the backs with a little juggling act from Geoff Thompson along the way led to the ball finding its way to Stirling who once again crossed over in the corner before the half time whistle.
From the re-start Bann earned a quick penalty which was knocked over by Alan Thompson who had finally re-discovered his touch. It wasn’t too long before the backs were working moves again. This time it was No 8 Andy Davidson who was the link-man, and the ball again found its way to Stirling who seemed like he could do no wrong, scoring to bring up his hat trick of tries.
Further tries followed with the props getting in on the act. Barney McKevitt raced in from 20 metres before Richard McElroy touched down after a typical bulldozing drive over the line.
A clever turnover from Man-of-the-Match Honeyford allowed the backs to show their handling skills one last time with Stirling getting his fourth of the afternoon.
Bann now have a week free from match action as they continue their preparations for the Crawford Cup semi-final on 12th March against Ballymoney Seconds, the Co Antrim side having defeated Larne Seconds in their postponed quarter-final game played last Saturday. Despite having home advantage Bann know they will have to be at their best if they are to make the Easter Tuesday final at the Kingspan Stadium.