Banbridge RFC V St Mary’s College RFC
UB AIL Division I B
Saturday 26th January 2019.
We arrived at Rifle Park, fired up and with a clear aim, to take home four points. As it turned out we took home only one losing bonus point. However, it was a commendable response to last week’s loss, with everyone giving their existence and all could march home with heads held high. The supporters could also be proud of their response, with a large attendance, including 37 who came up on Joyce’s and Eileen’s bus. It never seems manly somehow, making excuses, yet true reasons for outcomes should be presented. It was a big blow to lose Conor Dean, Ronan Watters and Cormac Foley, withdrawn by provinces before the game and then cruelly and disastrously to lose our main ball carrier and breakdown man, David Aspil after just a few minutes gone. We also must take into account the continued loss of Liam Curran and Nick McCarthy.
It was generally a very evenly balanced game. The St Marys’ tackling was vastly superior to last week’s and we were unfortunate to give away the two tries. The set pieces were tightly contested, the scrums included on this occasion. There was a considered view that the last (the game winning) penalty scored for the home team, which came from the scrum was in fact deserving of a penalty for the visitors. However, that said, there could be little complaint for the close loss. The game was fairly fought and sporting. St Marys did come away with a precious losing bonus point, which our hosts failed to do on their visit to Templeville Road earlier in the season. As mentioned, there was a good response and evidence of very hard work, physical and cerebral, by team, captain and coaches.
There were some notable performances. Hugo Conway on the right wing, looked to have highest quality potential, with Mk2 pace, balanced running and directional control. He had a number of impressive breaks one which ultimately led to a fine try by Ruairi Shields. The pack which gave away considerable weight worked hard, and in both the tight and open play, Richie Halpin had a fine game. Behind the pack, with often difficult ball, Paddy O’Driscoll managed the game well, covered astutely, kicked three difficult penalties and converted the try. Paddy received the SoftCo MoM award
The game started at a brisk pace on a lush pitch in reasonable weather conditions. As mentioned after just over three minutes gone Marys lost number six, David Aspil to an ankle injury. He was replaced by Dan Lyons. The home side did command more possession but the tackling on the Marys side was good. It was 28 minutes when Hugo Conway, who had already had two threatening runs, made a classic break beating his marker on the outside, he slalomed from half way to near the Banbridge line. A ruck formed and when David Fanagan received the ball he delivered the subtlest of quality grubbers behind the up-rushing defensive line. The ball hopped up and young Ruairi Shields deftly held and flipped over the line; with Paddy’s conversion it was 0-7.
Banbridge raised their intent and after four minutes, they won a lineout on our 22, following a penalty. The Banbridge left winger took the ball from the 10 on the inside and cleaved our cover, to go under the posts, 7-7. So, at half time it was 7-7. And like the league itself it looked unpredictable.
The second half started as the first had run with Banbridge having somewhat more possession and we finding it hard to turn over the ball. On 44 mins, the score went to 10-7 with a penalty. Paddy returned the compliment on 46 minutes, 10-10 and he ensured that Marys went ahead, 10-13, with a fine penalty on 50 minutes. It was 52 minutes, when a break from a ruck outside our 22, gave Banbridge the lead 15-13. On 59 minutes Paddy struck again and we led, 15-16. It looked as though we could hold on. But eventually a scrum on our 22, on 75 minutes, gave them a penalty and they went two points clear, 18-16. Modser rallied his men who showed their mettle with a spirited and skilful rally and near the end there were an exciting series of attacks, however, when almost at the Banbridge line, a forward pass meant the ball was lost and ultimately the game. 18-16
We remain in 7th place with 26 points, but are now six points behind leaders Malone, on 32 points. We are three behind our next opponents, Naas who are third. We have a few weeks to get back players and prepare for a really crucial stage of the league.
Team (Rolling Replacements X12)
15 R Shields, 14 H Conway, 13Myles Carey, 12 M O’Driscoll (Capt) 11 C Kennedy, 10 D Fanagan, 9 P O’Driscoll, 8 M Fallon, 7 D Mc Donnell 6 D Aspil, , 5 H Diepman, 4 L Corcoran, 3 M McCormack, 2 R Halpin, 1 T O’Reilly, S O’Brien, P Dundon, M Kennedy, D Lyons , T McMahon.