CIYMS SECONDS 17 BANN THIRDS 21
Bann Thirds travelled to play CIYMS 2nd XV hoping to get their league campaign back on track. The youthful Banbridge side started well in the opening exchanges with some strong running from Andy Davidson and Chris Beacom which brought play deep into the CI half. An offside infringement gave Bann an early penalty opportunity. The kick was missed, but from the resultant “22” Bann received another penalty in front of the posts which Stevie Cowan made no mistake in slotting between the uprights to open the scoring.
A lack of communication at the halfway line allowed CI to regain the ball and put some pressure on the Bann defence. It was at this point that Matthew Bird had to retire from the game with a shoulder injury. Some great defensive work from Cowan and Shane Honeyford kept the Bann line intact but indiscipline at the breakdown allowed CI to kick for the corner. Despite some desperate defending on the line from Gareth Briggs and Alex Megaw CI managed to edge over for a score that they were able to convert.
An excellent Beacom turnover gave Banbridge the ball inside the CI half. Some excellent carries from Sam Boyd and Ross Haughey created an overlap which the Bann backs exploited to put Ben Cross in for an unconverted score in the corner. Bann seemed to be in control and dominating the set piece but a lapse in concentration presented CI with the ball which they moved quickly to score a breakaway try from inside their own half.
In the final few moments of the first half Bann were awarded another penalty when CI pulled down a well-established maul and Cowan’s conversion left his side trailing 12-11 at the interval.
Banbridge began the second half the same way they finished the first defending frantically, knocking down wave after wave of CI attacks with some excellent tackling from Jordan Mount and Willie Taylor. It was from one of these tackles that the ball broke loose. Jonny Campbell was able to scoop it up and run 50 metres up the pitch, showing the wannabe defenders a clean pair of heels and staying strong through the challenge of the covering defenders to score an unconverted try in the corner.
From another lineout Beacom got his hands on the ball to make a half break and offload to Jonny McCreery. He was hauled down close to the line but the opportunistic Honeyford spotted a gap in the resulting ruck and dived through to score a try which took the score to 12-21.
From this point Bann began to make life hard for themselves by trying to off-load the ball and giving away sloppy penalties which allowed CI to continue to apply pressure . This resulted in a turnover which they then managed to move and find numbers on the outside. Some heroic tackling from Chris Berry and Adam Sterling only slowed down the inevitable score in the corner.
As the clock ticked down Bann began to push for another decisive score only to continue to turnover ball to the opposition. It was then that the experience from some of the senior players came into play, with Nelson Shanks and Davidson slowing down the ball in resultant plays to run the clock down.
Coach Andy Craig was not getting carried away with the win. “We had to work hard for it,” he said, “but I know the lads are somewhat disappointed as it was not up to their usual clinical standards. There were a few contenders for Man of the Match. Sam (Boyd) was back after a long injury lay-off and he had a great day carrying ball and being a rock in defence. And Jonny Campbell never stopped tackling and rucking all afternoon. But we decided that Shane (Honeyford) should pick up the accolade for his tireless work rate in defence and general game management which is impressive for such a young player.”