Bann Seconds picked up maximum Conference League points from Saturday’s home against a useful Ballymoney side, thanks to two tries in each half.
With the Firsts having no game, coach Simon McKinstry was able to call on some of the senior bench players and his side had additional experience in the shape of former AIL regulars Andy Brown and Colin Bickerstaff, both of whom were making their first appearances of the season.
McKinstry was pleased with the performance his side had put on in difficult weather conditions. “Ballymoney are a good side and we had to work hard for a half-time lead,” he said reflecting on the win.
“The game lost a bit of edge after they were reduced to 13 men, but a wet day like today is always a leveller and Ballymoney deserve credit for never giving up. But we got the five league points we wanted and that should move us a bit up the table.”
The visitors took a 7th minute lead thanks to a penalty from full-back Gary Pattison. But after a yellow card had reduced their ranks Bann kicked to the corner to set up a strong attacking position. Scrum-half Josh Cromie tapped a penalty in front of the posts and his feed put Ryan Patterson in for a try which Robin Thompson bettered off the tee.
The out-half added a penalty from 35 metres after Ballymoney had been penalised for a high tackle. Then seven minutes before the break the referee again brandished the yellow card to the Ballymoney player who had not long returned to the fray from his previous 10 minute ‘sentence’.
Ballymoney then lost a prop with concussion and Bann took advantage to put Brown in after a lineout take had been mauled close to the line. Thompson’s conversion gave his side a 17-3 advantage at the interval.
Patterson collected the re-start and a typical barnstorming run took him deep inside the visitors’ “22” where his off-load to Ross Haughey saw the prop being hauled down a metre short. But the pressure was maintained and Josh Cromie operated a neat wrap-around with Cameron Cromie for the scrum-half to run in unopposed, Thompson again adding the extras.
The next score came 26 minutes later and it was the opposition who grabbed it.
Stung into action, Bann responded two minutes later with Paul Ross’s unconverted try off the front of a lineout.
But still Ballymoney hit back, and with a yellow card having reduced Bann’s numbers, Knight scorched in for his second try in the left hand corner.
“It was good to have AB (Brown) and Coly (Bickerstaff) back in action”, said McKinstry. “They added the experience the Seconds have sometimes lacked. And Paul Ross was playing his first game of the season at hooker and I thought he did really well. I hope we can field the same team for Saturday’s game against Queen’s when we’d hope to pick up another win.”