Bann can’t afford to misfire away from Rifle Park

Banbridge have four games left and might need to win all four to secure promotion. INBL1602-241PB
Banbridge have four games left and might need to win all four to secure promotion. INBL1602-241PB
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It’s up to Banbridge RFC’s players to prove themselves this weekend.

The lads travel south to take on Tipperary side Nenagh on Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm) and Head Coach Daniel Soper is keen for his men to continue their charge to the title.

They’re just three points clear at the top of Division 2A and, in order to avoid a play-off and go straight up, must win the league. Soper knows all four of their remaining All Ireland League fixtures are of vital importance and he wants his side to show that they have what it takes to perform away from home.

“Our form at Rifle Park has been better than away so this is another opportunity to prove that we are an improving side who can win on the road,” he said.

Soper’s side smashed Nenagh 27-13 at Rifle Park earlier in the season but the Kiwi knows his side won’t have it so easy south of the border.

“They are a tough, tough nut to crack,” he said. “We managed it last time but the 27-13 scoreline flattered us. We scored two late tries from turnovers.

“When they’re at home, they’ll be a different prospect and it’s a crucial game. With four games to go, we can’t afford to slip up.”

In order to make sure his players are on tip top form for the title run-in, the coach took full use of their free weekend to make it a full week away from Rifle Park.

“Our last performance against Skerries, although we scored four tries and got the bonus point, was pretty flat,” he explained. “We looked like a team low on energy so we took the week off to get away from each other and recharge the batteries.

“It’s been a long season, especially because we’ve been going well. There’s an air of expectancy around the club which adds a bit of pressure and the last couple of games haven’t been good.”

Bann’s squad will get ample opportunity to ensure they’re at full fitness during their run-in, which features this weekend’s game at Nenagh, followed by Thomond at Rifle Park, a trip to Corinthians and a final day clash at home to Malone.

Those games are all well spaced out, which will be a help during the cooking pot of those final fixtures.

“We’re just taking it one game at a time,” said Soper. “We’ll just be going out to try and win the game this weekend. If we can keep doing that, the league table will look after itself.”

For this weekend’s trip to Nenagh, Bann will be without Fraser Mulholland, who is out with a head injury, although James McCrum and John Porter will both return to the squad.