Match Centre - November 25, 2017 - 2:00 pm

All Ireland League 

Old Wesley RFC
Banbridge RFCBanbridge RFC 1sts XV

@ Donnybrook Stadium

Match Details


Banbridge suffered their second defeat of the Ulster Bank League season, losing out to Old Wesley by the odd point in 41 on the 4G pitch at Donnybrook.

Bann coach Daniel Soper described it as a disappointing outcome and ‘one that got away’. “We started very, very well, picked up an early score and even after that we were still on the attack,” he said. “But we had two or three harsh penalties given against us. We were right into our stride and could have picked up another score then which would have been perfect.

“But sometimes those calls go against you. And then as the game went on we weren’t physical enough. We missed a lot of tackles and didn’t tackle low enough and too often that gave them a bit of momentum.”

Having come away with a single point win in their previous outing against Old Belvedere, Bann had the chance to repeat the trick. Caleb Montgomery’s 79th minute try left them needing the conversion to overhaul their Leinster opposition, but Ian Porter’s attempt from the left hand touchline failed to threaten the uprights and his side had to be content with a losing bonus point.

It had all looked so promising in the early exchanges as Bann fielded the drop-out to retain possession through countless phases, with the ball going through 48 pairs of hands before Conor Field finished off in the right hand corner, with Porter adding the extras off the tee.

Seven minutes had passed before the Dublin side managed to get their hands on the ball. But on their first serious attack they won a penalty which Jack Maybury slotted home for a 3-7 scoreline.

Porter and Maybury exchanged penalties early in the second quarter before Bann stretched further in front. Scrum ball against the head saw Porter link with Andrew Morrison on halfway and the centre made ground before transferring to Rob Lyttle. His powerful run took play up to the “22” and a tidy off-load put Morrison in for the second try and a 6-15 lead.

Wesley began to get a foothold on the game and deserved the 36th minute try scored by Cronan Gleeson, with the burly prop proving unstoppable from close range. Maybury’s conversion left a two point gap between the sides at the break.

The home side picked up where they left off at the end of the first half, pressurising Bann through a full frontal assault. Bann had the chance to relieve the pressure when Wesley were penalised, but when the subsequent lineout was botched, Wesley launched another all-out attack which yielded a 47th minute unconverted try for centre James O’Donovan.

Porter failed to level the scores with a 57th minute penalty attempt but the momentum appeared to be swinging the way of the visitors.

If Bann prop Michael Cromie was bemused by the referee’s decision to penalise him after the Wesley pack had been forced into reverse, his bewilderment was complete at the next set piece when the match official showed him the yellow card with the opposition scrum again on the retreat.

Maybury’s 72nd minute penalty left Bann needing a converted try to salvage a win. Despite their numerical disadvantage over the eight minutes that remained, Bann fought their way back upfield. A series of set pieces in and around the home five metre line eventually had its reward, with No 8 Montgomery picking up from the base of a scrum and running down an undefended blindside to touch down.

Home and visiting supporters alike held their breath as the Bann skipper lined up his kick but it was the former who ended with the smiles on their faces as the failed attempt signalled the end of the game.

“We conceded two scores off first phase. That’s not particularly like us and it’s not good,” said Soper. “The kick at the end could have won it but actually we had enough opportunities during the game to win the match but our skills let us down at times. There were a lot of unforced handing errors, for the second game in a row. That’s something that’s been very, very good this season and the conditions on Saturday weren’t a reason for indifferent handling. We were also getting a bit flat so that’s something we’ll have to keep working at.”

“Wesley had a very big physical pack and that put them on the front foot quite a lot. No doubt they’re a good side – they just didn’t have a great start to the season. I’d like to think we can take them at home, but there’s work to be done before that.”

Bann team v Old Wesley:- Adam Doherty, Conor Field, Andrew Morrison, Ben Carson, Rob Lyttle, Josh Cromie, Ian Porter (Capt), Michael Cromie, Peter Cromie, Eric O’Sullivan, Chris Allen, Robin Sinton, Stephen Irvine, Nick Hayes, Caleb Montgomery. Replacements:- Jonny Weir, Tom O’Toole, Richard Graham, Andrew Kirkwood, John Porter.