Match Centre - November 11, 2017 - 2:30 pm

All Ireland League 

Banbridge RFCBanbridge RFC 1sts XV
Old Belvedere

@ Rifle Park

Match Details


Just one league point separated these two Ulster Bank Division 1B sides going into this game and at the final whistle they were similarly separated on the scoreboard by a solitary point.

A game between the sides lying in 3rd and 4th positions was always likely to be close and with each scoring two tries the outcome ultimately rested on three kicks, with two missed penalties from the visitors’ kicker Tim Foley and a touchline conversion from Bann skipper Ian Porter deciding the outcome.

Bann coach Daniel Soper was pleased to have seen his side pick up another win after the previous week’s setback at Shannon, especially after what he called a very flat performance. “To get the win is very, very important obviously but that was probably one of our poorer performances in many ways,” he reflected. “We started very well but didn’t build on that – we didn’t finish off a couple of half chances. We made a lot of unforced handling errors and gave away too many penalties, an area where we’ve been very good in recent games.

“That’s a sign that you’re not mentally right on top of things. At times when we got into our stride we looked very good. We just didn’t finish off the way we have in other games. Belvedere kept coming at us and made it a tough finish but we hung on and got the four points.”

A dynamic start, inspired by turnover lineout ball, earned Bann a 2nd minute penalty which Porter slotted home. The Rifle Park side resumed on the attack after the re-start and from a shortened lineout 17 metres out Richard Graham collected Greg Jones’s feed. The young flanker powered through the tail of the opposition line and carried two defenders over the chalk as he touched down for a try that went unconverted.

Old Belvedere began to enjoy some periods of possession and build momentum and on their first incursion into the home “22”, with 17 minutes played, lock Jack Kelly finished off near the posts after some impressive off-loading in the build-up, with Foley’s conversion taking his side within a point.

The remainder of the half was evenly contested with the defences of both sides forcing handling errors. But it was the Dublin visitors, operating under the tutelage of former Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan, who had the better scoring opportunities. Foley took shots off the tee from 48 and 37 metres but crucially neither found the mark and that single point separated the sides at the break.

Six minutes into the second period Bann broke on the blind side of a scrum just inside the opposition half. Porter made ground initially before feeding centre Andrew Morrison who linked with Conor Field 35 metres out. Faced with the last defender the winger chipped deftly over his head and collected the ball before diving in at the corner. Porter’s superb conversion put two scores between the sides.

A yellow card for offside for Bann’s Chris Allen should have given the Dublin side the edge in such a keenly fought battle. But during his enforced absence it was Bann who had the better scoring opportunity, with Porter’s penalty shot at goal from 31 metres range drifting wide.

With eight minutes remaining the visitors won a penalty at a set scrum and from the lineout that ensued they set up camp deep within the home “22”, eventually wearing down the Bann defence to put threequarter replacement Philip O’Dwyer in for a try out wide that Foley converted.

Sensing victory the Leinster visitors again battled their way into home territory but when a throw-in went over the back of a lineout it was Bann who reacted the quicker, regaining possession and kicking the ball over the sideline to terminate hostilities.

Soper said that his players were glad to have the two week break before the journey to Old Wesley on 25th November, with two games against current bottom side Dolphin to follow. “With all the injuries, especially in the back five of the scrum, some of our players are a bit fatigued.  We’ll use this break to re-charge the batteries, freshen up and be ready for the next block of three games.

“These three, including the back-to-backs, usually have a big bearing on league positions with teams making a big shift. We haven’t always done well against those teams at the bottom and Dolphin’s results have certainly picked up over recent weeks. But we’ve Wesley first on the 4G pitch at Donnybrook so that will be interesting.”

Bann team v Old Belvedere:- Adam Doherty, Conor Field, Andrew Morrison, Jonny Little, Rob Lyttle, Josh Cromie, Ian Porter (Capt), Michael Cromie, Peter Cromie, Eric O’Sullivan, Chris Allen, Stephen Irvine, Richard Graham, Nick Hayes, Greg Jones. Replacements:- Jonny Weir, Stuart Cromie, Tim Savage, Ben Carson, John Porter.