Match Centre - September 16, 2017 - 2:30 pm

All Ireland League 

Banbridge RFCBanbridge RFC 1sts XV

@ Thomond Park

Match Details


If Banbridge’s supporters had any doubts about their team’s ability to be competitive in Division 1B of the Ulster Bank All-Ireland League, those misgivings were long gone by the time Tom Caesar crossed at the corner flag for the last minute try that secured an opening day win.

Bann made a steady if unspectacular start to the game on UL Bohemians 4G pitch, faltered slightly to change ends six points in arrears, but then dominated the exchanges in the second period to fully warrant the four points they took back north.

Coach Daniel Soper was delighted to get the win and especially pleased that his side had finally been patient enough to go through the phases for the winning score. “We had made line breaks earlier in the second half but tried to get a pass away when it wasn’t on and so we weren’t making all that pressure count,” he said afterwards.

“Then in that final movement of the game we went through something like 12 phases leading up to the score. That’s when we’re at our best. We’re capable of doing that and we’ve got to trust our systems and trust each other. We did that today and got the win.”

Bann went behind six minutes into the game when Bohs’ lock Ed Kelly took advantage of a charged down clearance to cross for a try that out-half Robbie Burke converted.

Ten minutes later the sides were level after Ian Porter had picked up from a ruck, dummied to pass and found a gap to stretch out of a tackle and touch down, adding the conversion for good measure.

Despite the incessant rain the game continued at a fast and furious pace, with the home side’s driving maul proving their most potent weapon against a Bann defence whose tackle count was mounting steadily. Bann infringed twice close to their line and Burke kicked two penalties to give his side a 13-7 interval lead.

After the break, with the rain easing Bann began to dominate territorially and by the 54th minute they were on level terms thanks to two Porter penalties.

Three separate line breaks, with Peter Cromie and Adam Doherty in the vanguard, took Bann within metres of the Bohs’ line but twice the off-load went astray and on the third occasion Bann were penalised for holding on at the ruck. Just as it looked as if both sides would have to settle for an equal share of the points Bann mounted what proved to be the final assault.

Open-side Caleb Montgomery had run and tackled with venom all afternoon but he showed his more subtle skill with a neat off-load to Robin Sinton which took play deep into home territory. The ball was moved wide right and Rob Lyttle’s well-timed pass put Caesar in for the crucial try which Porter converted with the final act of the game.

Soper was pleased with his side’s defensive display. “They were fortunate to get their try but for most of the afternoon we felt pretty comfortable in defence,” he said. “They got within five metres of our line twice in the first half and in the second half we were pretty solid. The 4G pitch allows defenders to get back on their feet and into position quickly and we did that well. It was good to keep them to nil in the second half.

“I was delighted with the way the lads kept their focus throughout the 80 minutes. We’re going to need that because every game is going to be tough in this Division.

“We’ve got more players coming from a professional background, the same with the opposition, and that’s going to lead to more physical confrontations. But what was pleasing was the way the players who are not from that background matched up to that physicality.”

Soper highlighted the contributions of the new players. Nic Timoney and Eric O’Sullivan were both making their debuts in the Bann jersey and the coach was pleased with the way they had slotted in. “They both brought something extra in terms of their physicality, sharpness of mind and speed and they’re going to be great assets to us.”

But Soper also singled out hooker Peter Cromie, whose strong running set up two of the most dangerous attacks on the Bohs’ line, scrum-half Ian Porter who, he said, controlled the tempo of the game very well and replacement flanker Nick Hayes, who had a storming second half.

UUC are the visitors for Bann’s first home game and Soper is expecting another tough encounter. “They’ve been a good side for a number of years and already had a season in Division 1B. They’ve recruited well and I expect another tight affair.”

Bann team against UL Bohemians:- Rob Lyttle, Tom Caesar, Andrew Morrison, Jonny Little, Andrew Kirkwood, Adam Doherty, Ian Porter (Capt), Eric O’Sullivan, Peter Cromie, Michael Cromie, Chris Allen, Robin Sinton, Nic Timoney, Caleb Montgomery, Stephen Irvine. Replacements:- Jonny Weir, Stuart Cromie, Nick Hayes, Jason Gribbon, Ben Carson.

Jason Gribbon← Ian Porter
Ben Carson← Adam Doherty
Nick Hayes← Christopher Allen
Jonny Weir← Peter Cromie
Stuart Cromie← Michael Cromie- Club Capt.