Banbridge RFC bounced back to winning ways in stunning fashion on Saturday, powering past Blackrock College 38-15 at Rifle Park.
A game that was finely balanced for 65 minutes finally swung the way of the home club when replacement scrum half Josh Cromie twisted out of a tackle to dive over the Blackrock line. Andrew Magrath’s conversion opened up an 11 point gap and back-to-back tries eight minutes later sealed the visitors’ fate.
“You can ask nothing more than the players to give you a reaction and they were excellent,” said Coach Daniel Soper, still remembering their display during the 19-19 draw at Queen’s a week previous.
At half-time there were only two points separating the teams with two needless penalties having set the visitors up for what Soper called “soft tries” that their territorial share didn’t merit.
Penetrating runs from Adam Doherty and John Porter put Bann in a strong position for Andrew Morrison’s opening try. Then the outside centre made the running for hooker Peter Cromie’s try nine minutes later, with Porter providing the link and Magrath converting. Then Bann were made to pay the price for those penalties.
Bann stretched their lead two minutes into the second half, with replacement scrum-half Josh Cromie’s tap penalty and darting run setting up the ruck from which winger Simon Lloyd went over in the corner, with Magrath converting.
Blackrock reduced the deficit to four points when centre Hugo Godson Treacy crossed for an unconverted try.
The momentum was with the Leinster side but then Cromie crossed Magrath converted and the home side was back in the driving seat.
Morrison was held up over the line and from the 5-metre scrum No 8 Stephen Irvine picked up and forced his way over. From the re-start Morrison collected, broke through the first tackle and fed replacement wing Josh Agnew. The former Ulster Schools’ player made good ground and fed the supporting Jonny Little for the centre to make the line from 25 metres out, with Magrath’s conversion wrapping up the scoring.
“Simon (Lloyd) made a few mistakes in the first half that he was pretty annoyed about but he really got going after the break,” said Soper. “He’s the first Kiwi we’ve had for a few seasons and it was good to see him getting that score. Josh Agnew came off the bench to make a significant contribution on his debut. It was a good 20-man performance.”
Next up for Bann is Saturday’s trip to Malone. Was the Coach worried that his side might read too much into the Cregagh Road side’s 40-10 defeat to Queen’s? “You would like to think that we got our wee wake-up call at Queen’s. We’re not good enough to just turn up and expect that it will happen,” he said.