BALLYNAHINCH SECONDS 33 BANN SECONDS 7
Bann Seconds lost the opening game of their Second XV League campaign, going down to their Ballynahinch counterparts on a 5-1 try margin.
Bann Coach Colin Bickerstaff expressed his disappointment at some of the ‘soft’ tries his side conceded, which he said gave a very distorted picture of the match overall. “We enjoyed a healthy share of possession,” he commented, “but ‘Hinch were much more clinical when they got inside the red zone.”
Early pressure on the Ballynahinch line ended with a poor pass on which the home side capitalised, running the ball out of their own half. Successive penalties gave them a lineout five metres out from the Bann line and the resulatant maul was driven over for a 5-0 lead with barely ten minutes played.
Worse was to follow from the re-start when a speculative crossfield kick bounced fortuitously for the ‘Hinch left winger who scorched clear of the cover on a 45 metre run to the posts and a 12-0 lead.
‘Hinch went in for their third try in the 19th minute. Bann had tried to run loose ball back, but when the ball was dislodged in the tackle, ‘Hinch hacked through and their right winger won the race to collect and dive over under the posts.
That 19 point lead was far from being a fair reflection of the exchanges and the balance was redressed to some extent when Bann grabbed what proved to be their only score of the game just three minutes later. Possession out of touch had been patchy, but when it came back cleanly from a lineout deep in the home “22”, the Bann threequarters showed their ability, with Andrew Denver and Macauley Little exchanging passes before putting Aaron Kennedy in for a try at the corner, with the latter adding a superb conversion.
They should have added to that score, given the prolonged period they spent in home territory in the final ten minutes of the half. But despite a number of set-piece opportunities they were unable to unpick the home defence and went into the break on a 19-7 scoreline.
Great defence from Kennedy and Scott Magowan saved what looked like a certain ‘Hinch try, but the home side stayed inside the Bann “22” and gave a lesson in turning pressure into points as they broke through for the bonus point try.
Ten minutes from time a Bann knock-on again gifted ‘Hinch possession and after their tight-head prop had shown a surprising turn of pace to take play into the Bann “22”, the spread-eagled defence was again pierced to let ‘Hinch in for a fifth try under the posts.
Bickerstaff acknowledged that his young charges still had much to learn. “Some of our decision-making was poor and our execution lacked precision. But this is a young side that has made tremendous progress this season. Maybe we could do with an older head in there at times, but I’ve no doubt they’ll learn from that game today. We’ve another tough game at Armagh next Saturday against another very strong side, but I’ve no doubt the players will be up for the challenge.”