Clark scores the only try of the game as Banbridge shut out Naas

Banbridge battle to keep hold of the ball against Naas. INBL1544-276PB

Banbridge battle to keep hold of the ball against Naas. INBL1544-276PB

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Banbridge had to produce another excellent defensive performance against a determined Naas side on Saturday to claim their fourth success from six starts in Division 2A.

The only try of the game came in the third minute but while only two penalties were added before the final whistle the exchanges were frenetic as the two sides served up some thrilling if at times error-strewn rugby in the autumn sunshine.

Banbridge v Naas: �Paul Byrne Photography INBL1544-268PB

Banbridge v Naas: �Paul Byrne Photography INBL1544-268PB

An early attack by the visitors terminated in a dropped ball just inside their own half. Bann centre Jonny Little got a boot to it and, aided and abetted by his midfield partner Clark McAllister, the ball was hacked over the try line with the latter eventually effecting the touchdown.

Those five points separated the sides for the next 36 minutes although the big Naas pack and strong running of centre Henry Bryce posed a constant threat to the home line.

Shandon Scott slotted over a 38th minute penalty but Bann had to withstand a prolonged siege at the end of the half to keep their line intact.

Nico Vorster and Peter Cromie combined to stop Bryce from close range before Naas were awarded a penalty.

At the ensuing scrum, Lee Steenson was yellow-carded for his efforts to clear the danger. Then Bann were penalised at the next set piece and the 14-man defence, with Chris Allen and Stephen Irvine literally putting their bodies on the line, eventually managed to hold Naas up as the referee blew for the interval.

It was a phase of play that was to prove decisive in the outcome of the game. Naas had further scoring opportunities in the second half, most notably when Bryce broke through two tackles inside the home 22. But reinforced in their self-belief by that work at the end of the first half, the well-organised home defence re-grouped and, when possession had been retrieved, went on the attack at the other end.

Following a lineout just inside the Naas half, a well-constructed backline move put McAllister in possession just seven metres out but he just failed to find Irvine with what would have been a scoring pass.

Scott was short with a penalty chance on 70 minutes, but Irvine ripped ball off the opposition and made 30 metres to set up a scoring chance for full-back Adam Ervine. He was hauled down short but the referee had been playing advantage and the out-half converted the 30 metre penalty for an 11 point lead.

Naas went all out for the score that would have earned a losing bonus point but even that eluded them on a day when Bann underlined their tremendous defensive ability.