DONAGHADEE 24 BANN SECONDS 50
This re-arranged Conference League game was a warm-up for the Towns’ Cup first round encounter between the sides, scheduled for 11th January.
And Bann Seconds planted a firm marker, outscoring the opposition on a 3-8 try count, despite the absence of a number of regulars.
Donaghadee kick-started the scoring with a penalty in the opening minutes. But Bann responded promptly with the pack’s drive at a set scrum setting up No 8 James Cromie for a try that went unconverted.
After Ben Lavery had carried strongly, Jack Myles got on the end of Ben Thompson’s well-placed cross-field kick for what would prove to be the first of the winger’s five tries.
Bann opted for a scrum after being awarded a penalty and scrum-half Aaron Kennedy found Myles with a long pass, adding the conversion to the winger’s second try for a 3-17 interval lead.
The home side made a promising start to the second half, playing a fast-paced game which saw them pick up the two converted tries which tied the scores.
But normal service was soon restored, with Jason Gribbon’s break setting up Myles for his hat-trick. And when the ‘Dee attempted to run a penalty from inside their own “22”, Myles read it well to intercept and cross for a score which went unconverted.
The young winger was having a field day, repeating the interception trick, this time inside his own “22”, to scorch home from all of 80 metres. And when he was replaced by another prolific try-scorer in the shape of Keir Patterson, the latter sprinted clear of the ‘Dee defence on a 60 metre run to the try line. Kennedy converted both for a 17-43 scoreline.
And although the home out-half went in for his side’s third try, after tapping a quick penalty to run clear from deep inside his own half, Bann had the last word, with his opposite number Ben Thompson carving open the home defence to put Ben Lavery in at the corner, Kennedy adding a fine conversion.
Coach Colin Bickerstaff was especially pleased to have got the bonus point win given the many team changes from his usual starting XV. “Injuries and unavailability had hit us hard but the lads that played gave it their all,” he commented after the game. “Jack Myles has to get man-of-the-match after those five tries but there were other impressive performances. Ben Thompson led the back line well and Ben Lavery always looked dangerous with the ball in hand. And I thought Alex Megaw was the pick of the forwards.
“It was good to get the win over the ‘Dee given that we host them in the Towns’ Cup next month. But we’ll not read too much into this result. That will be a whole different ball game with much more at stake than just Conference League points.”