RAINEY 12 BANBRIDGE 32
A try from skipper Adam Ervine after 75 seconds of play set Banbridge on the way to a place in the quarter –finals of the First Trust Senior Cup.
The visitors’ line was rarely under sustained threat although Rainey did manage to cross for two tries of their own after firstly a loose kick and then a defensive mix-up saw them make the most of the chances gifted to them.
Bann coach Daniel Soper was pleased overall with his team’s overall performance even if he saw areas where improvements could be made. “I never felt that we were under a great deal of pressure, although their first score was very well taken,” he said reflecting on the game.
“At times with the ball we were excellent but on other occasions we didn’t have enough patience, trying to force passes sometimes and being a bit careless with the ball, spilling it a couple of times in contact. So there’s a bit to work to do there. But to win by 20 points is encouraging.”
Bann started at a blistering pace with Ervine rounding off a thrilling move, spearheaded by lock Chris Allen, to open his side’s account. Rainey hit back with an unconverted try to level the scores before Adam Doherty kicked a penalty for the visitors.
By the interval Bann were eight points clear. Peter Cromie’s incisive run took play close to the Rainey posts and several phases later full-back Andrew Kirkwood’s overhead pass put winger Josh Agnew in at the corner.
Early in the second half new signing flanker Caleb Montgomery powered his way through the Rainey lines and set up Andrew Morrison with a scoring chance that was only spoiled by a foot on the touchline. Hooker Cromie’s strong running provided the impetus for Bann’s third score with sibling Michael giving the scoring pass to Ben Carson.
Rainey picked up their second score and converted but Morrison’s blistering run from 45 metres out took him through and then clear of the home defence, with Doherty adding the extras. Bann’s fifth try owed much to the powerhouse running of Robin Sinton which set up a ruck close to the try line. Props Michael Cromie and Stuart Cromie did the short range driving with the latter going through for the touchdown and Doherty converting.
Soper was pleased with the performances of the new players. “It was nice to Caleb getting a good run-out. It was obviously difficult for him to come in when he wasn’t familiar with the players and the systems but I thought he did very well.
“Nick Hayes came off the bench and in the 30 minutes he was on he showed himself to be a real worker. It was also good to get some of the senior players back like Michael (Cromie) and Adam (Ervine). Guys like that make a big difference.”
Soper acknowledged that Ballynahinch would present a much bigger challenge in Saturday’s SONI Ulster Premiership game. “It’ll have to be another big step-up this week. Both sides will have a number of their Ulster Academy players released for the game and it will give us a better indication of where we are in relation to the Ulster Bank League.
“‘Hinch have been playing at that level for the past number of years and I don’t think that Bann have beaten them since the mid-90’s. They always seemed to that bit better than us each time we’ve played them so it’s going to be a good measure for us as to whether or not we’re up to that level.”
Bann team against Rainey:- Andrew Kirkwood, Josh Agnew, Andrew Morrison, Jonny Little, Adam Ervine (Capt), Adam Doherty, Josh Cromie, Michael Cromie, Peter Cromie, Stuart Cromie, Chris Allen, Matthew Laird, Robin Sinton, Caleb Montgomery, Stephen Irvine. Replacements:- Timothy Savage, Matthew Shirlow, Kallan Martin, Nick Hayes, Ben Carson.