Match Centre - December 21, 2019 - 2:30 pm

Provincial League 5 

Carrickfergus RFC
Banbridge RFCBanbridge RFC 4ths XV

@ Woodlawn

Match Details



Bann Fourths travelled to Carrick Grammar School for their final match of 2019 as the home team already had all their home pitches in use at the club grounds. The pre-match formalities were somewhat hampered with this move, with several obstacles having to be overcome prior to kick off such as several locked gates.

Unaffected by this, it was the away team that settled the quicker, with several close range drives by the forwards leading to Robin Hewitt going over for the try which Jordan Mullan converted.

From the kick-off, a mixture of poor discipline and some good organised defending by the home side meant that Bann failed to convert any of their pressure into points. This resulted in the hosts turning over a lot of ball and putting Bann under pressure. At the 20 minute mark Bann emptied the bench again to add a bit of freshness to the game. This aided in Bann regaining the control of the ball and with continued punches up the middle by several players Sam Boyd charged over for another converted try, to give Bann a 14-0 lead.

Unfortunately this instilled some complacency in the Bann team, and they failed to put enough players into the rucks to secure ball, giving up a lot of hard-earned possession. They also tried to move it wide too quickly, where a well-marshalled Carrick defence isolated them and either forced a penalty or stole ball. Arising from these mistakes and several missed tackles Carrick scored an unconverted try.

This gave the home side confidence and from the fortuitous bounce of a ball which left Bann players wrong footed, the Carrick full-back went in for the converted try which left them just 12-14 in arrears at the break.

Having received some advice at half-time on controlling possession and not getting isolated, Bann kicked off the second half. Bann’s forward pack were really getting on top of their opposition with the front row of Kris Campbell, Eddie Dawson and Jonny McCreery getting a lot of success from the scrums. Unfortunately it was poor discipline and getting on the wrong side of the referee which continued to thwart Bann, forcing them to constantly give up possession and territory.

With the strong defensive effort of Jonny Campbell, Charlie Millsopp and Jordan Poots, possession was eventually won back through a held-up maul. The resulting scrum saw No 8 Boyd pick up, as he has done several times this season, and charge for the line. Carrying several Carrick players on his back he touched down, and Mullan added the extras.

With improved discipline Bann earned a penalty which they kicked into the opposition “22”. An excellent throw and catch saw the forwards maul over the line for Robin  Hewitt to score the converted bonus point try.

With the game won the visitors switched off, allowing Carrick the opportunity to claim a late consolation try.

Coach Andy Fulton was delighted to pick up the bonus point win away from home. “We came up against a very well organized Carrick team today,” he said after the game. “There were some nerves out there but once our forwards took hold of the game we were always in control.

“Sam Boyd continues to grow into the captaincy role and he’s getting the right response from the players.

“We got 50 minutes from Jonny McCreery today after his long-term absence and that was important as our set scrum really provided the basis for so much of our play. The younger players like Charlie Millsopp, Jordan Poots and Jonny Campbell are really coming on – they worked really hard at the breakdown, hitting rucks to control possession. And Jordan Mullan had an excellent game, including a 100% strike rate off the conversion tee.

“For me the man of the match was U18 Eddie Dawson, playing in only his second senior match and first for the 4th XV. He settled in quickly, made himself available to take ball on or support the ball carrier, and his set piece work in the scrum was excellent with a ball against the head. We took the pressure off him and asked Ross Semple to throw in at lineouts, but with a bit of coaching he could be an excellent hooker – great potential for the future.”

As a group we would like to extend our best wishes to all for a Merry Christmas and the team are looking forward to a happy healthy and prosperous 2020.