BANN THIRDS 29 CIYMS SECONDS 7
Bann Thirds finally returned to action after missing two league games due to the poor weather. League rivals CIYMS Seconds were the opposition but on this occasion the prize at stake was a place in the semi-finals of the Crawford Plate. The team had been boosted by the return of Packie Downey, making just his second appearance in a Bann shirt in 18 months.
The Banbridge side started off well with some penetrating runs from Ryan Hughes and Chris Beacom. As Bann neared the CIYMS line the defence turned over the ball and attempted to play out of their own third of the pitch. But a fantastic tackle from Matthew Shirlow made the CI player spill the ball. From the resultant scrum a fine set piece move put Downey in possession and the full-back scythed through the CI defence to run in untouched for the opening try. Steven Cowan converted for a 7-0 lead.
The home side began to get a foothold in the game. Some excellent interlinking from captain William Taylor and centre partner Peter Irvine took play into the CI half again. The Bann pack continued to rumble forward with Kyle McConnell making a half break before being tackled. An infringement by a CI player gave Steven Cowan a very kickable penalty which he duly converted.
At this point Bann characteristically became undisciplined and began to give away needless penalties which invited an increasingly buoyant CI to attack time and time again. Each time they mounted an attack it was the backrow combination of Jonny Campbell and Scott Magowan who led the way in nullifying the threat. When, under pressure, a CI player fumbled the ball just five metres out from the home line, Downey was able to scoop the ball up from his toes and go the length of the pitch to score under the posts. Cowan added the extras.
For the remainder of the half Bann continued to mount attack after attack only to make individual handling errors which ended each and every opportunity.
After half-time CI were the side who dominated in the attacking stakes only for some astute defending to stop them at each attempt. Stuart Marshall had come off the bench and within the first three minutes of being on the pitch the experienced lock made at least five tackles in quick succession to play a major role in keeping the line intact.
Another set piece move allowed winger Calum Boland to sneak through the CI defence and round the full-back to score with Cowan again on target off the tee. As Bann continued to fall foul of the referee Magowan was consigned to the sin bin, allowing CI to able to capitalise and score a converted try for a 24-7 scoreline.
As the clock began to run down Bann mounted one last attack with a half break from Campbell, supported by scrum-half Jordan Mount, taking play Banbridge deep into the CI half. Some excellent handling from the Bann backline put Stefan Patterson in at the corner to round off a comprehensive win.
Coach Stuart Wickie said after the game that he was pleased the side had been able to grind out what turned out to be a more difficult win than it should have been. “Our own unforced error count and discipline was poor and needs to improve for both the league and cup campaign,” he added.
“Man-of-the-match today had to go to Matthew Shirlow. His work rate and defensive display as well as his ferocious scrummaging ensured he was a thorn in CI’s side all afternoon.”
Bann Thirds now return to league action next week with a tough game away to Omagh Thirds.