Match Centre - September 23, 2017 - 2:30 pm

All Ireland League 

Banbridge RFCBanbridge RFC 1sts XV
University College Cork

@ Rifle Park

Match Details

BANBRIDGE   31      UCC   31

Having established a 31-10 lead after 47 minutes play, Banbridge looked set to pick up a first bonus point win in Division 1B of the Ulster Bank All-Ireland League.

But the students of UCC hit back with three converted tries in 15 minutes to set up a nervous last eight minutes in which the visitors just failed to snatch a win with a penalty shot that drifted wide.

Bann Coach Daniel Soper said that after his side had built up that commanding lead, the final result almost felt like a defeat. “When you’re 21 points up with half an hour to go you’d like to think you’re good enough to go on and win the game,” he commented afterwards.

“The UCC-Bann games have had a habit of being like that – three seasons ago we came from 22-5 down to win 22-24. Then nine months later we came back from 24-0 down to lead 24-26 only to lose out to a late penalty.  For some reason in our games against them one team tends to dominate one half and the other side then takes control.

“It was disappointing that in the last half hour we couldn’t capture any momentum or get any control for any length of time. We didn’t have any periods of sustained possession and we certainly didn’t get any position on the pitch.

Bann started at a blistering pace, with Caleb Montgomery and Andrew Morrison creating space down the left flank to put Adam Doherty in for a 6th minute unconverted try. Two lineouts taken against the throw helped them dominate possession but a couple of high tackles led to a yellow card for Chris Allen and a 15th minute penalty converted by UCC out-half James Taylor.

From one of a series of penalties against the home side UCC were able to set up close to the line and centre Cian Bohane found a gap for the first of what proved to be a hat-trick of tries, with Taylor’s conversion taking his side 5-10 ahead with 24 minutes played.

Bann were largely in control for the remainder of the half. Ian Porter struck a penalty just wide of the posts after a surging run from Peter Cromie had taken play deep into the students’ “22”. With left winger Richard Walsh picking up a yellow card for his illegal defensive efforts, Bann made the most of their numerical advantage. Jonny Little and Peter Cromie combined to set up good field position, allowing prop Eric O’Sullivan in a try from close range, converted by Porter, and winger Tom Caesar did the groundwork leading up to hooker Cromie’s try from a lineout take and drive on the stroke of half-time.

Bann built on that 19-10 interval advantage with two well-worked tries early in the second half. After Montgomery had broken out of the home “22”, centre Morrison took Porter’s feed, found a gap and raced 70 metres to the try line, with Porter adding the extras. And arguably the try of the game came in the 47th minute when Porter broke from inside his 10 metre line and found debutant out-half Michael Lowry with the pass that sent the 19 year-old on a 50 metre race to dot down.

Bohane’s second try, on 57 minutes, gave the Munster side hope of an unlikely comeback. And with Bann continuing to create territorial problems for themselves through a series of penalties, the student side engineered a third try for the centre, aided and abetted by a missed tackle.

Taylor’s two conversions put his side within striking distance and flanker Roy Murphy’s try on 72 minutes, again converted by the out-half levelled the scores. But Taylor’s miss off the tee with two minutes remaining left the sides to take three points apiece from a game that Soper thought neither deserved to lose.

“Credit to UCC, they played very well, in that last half hour particularly and probably didn’t deserve to lose the game. And the way we played for 50 minutes we didn’t deserve to lose either.

“There were two or three kicks of theirs from general play that were very, very good. But actually a lot of their kicking was from penalties that they were kicking to the corner. Our penalty count was just far too high, and for everything in the law book. We might think some of that was down to the referee’s interpretation but whatever the reason we have to improve on that aspect.

“Disappointing, yes, but we’ve seven points from two games and lying third in the league and that’s a decent return, although we never like to drop points at home. We have to learn how to wrestle the initiative back to ourselves and get a wee bit of control and composure.”

Despite the result Soper was pleased with the way his side had performed in the first 50 minutes. “I’m really pleased with the pace and the tempo we’re playing at. To score five tries is very good – we’ve created opportunities and we’ve finished a few, turning defence into attack from deep. We need to get better on the other side of the ball. And we’re just giving the ball back cheaply too often.”

Table-toppers Naas are visitors to Rifle Park this Saturday and Soper recognises the challenge they will present. “They’re carrying lot of momentum into this game, having finished second in this league last season and kicking off this campaign with two bonus point wins. In the history of the clubs there’s been nothing between us and them so we’ll just get on and do our job.”

The Club Coach was particularly pleased about the Seconds’ Conference League win over Randalstown on the adjacent pitch. “A very good result for the 2’s,” was his assessment. “I was delighted to see them doing so well and those guys putting pressure on the guys playing above them, which is where we want to be. Cooke will be a tough game for them next weekend but I’m sure the lads will be up for it.”

Bann team against UCC:- Rob Lyttle, Tom Caesar, Andrew Morrison, Jonny Little, Adam Doherty, Michael Lowry, Ian Porter (Capt), Eric O’Sullivan, Peter Cromie, Michael Cromie, Chris Allen, Ryan Hughes, Caleb Montgomery, Nick Hayes, Stephen Irvine. Replacements:- Jonny Weir, Stuart Cromie, Tom O’Toole, Matthew Laird, Josh Cromie.

Yellow Card
Josh Cromie← Adam Doherty
Matthew Laird← Christopher Allen
Jonny Weir← Peter Cromie
Tom O’Toole← Eric O’Sullivan
Stuart Cromie← Michael Cromie- Club Capt.