Bann bash through Bective to make it six on the trot as revival continues

Banbridge are on a thrilling run of form, picking up six consecutive All Ireland League victories. INBL1508-226PB
Banbridge are on a thrilling run of form, picking up six consecutive All Ireland League victories. INBL1508-226PB

Bann’s sixth consecutive win in the All-Ireland League came at the expense of a Bective side already doomed to relegation.

With late withdrawals causing further disruption in their ranks, the Dublin side were up against it from the outset and although they did pressurise Bann in spasms, they eventually shipped seven tries with their only response coming in the form of three penalties.

Andrew Morrison and Johnny Pollock �Paul Byrne Photography INBL1508-227PB

Andrew Morrison and Johnny Pollock �Paul Byrne Photography INBL1508-227PB

Bann coach Dan Soper was pleased with the way his side had played after an indifferent start.

“Right from the outset the players recognised that there were plenty of holes in the Bective defence,” he commented after the match.

“Unfortunately some handling errors and poor decision-making let us down early on. However, as the game wore on our attack play was excellent at times, particularly on the turnover. Not to concede a try was also very pleasing.

“Overall I thought it was a very good performance which sets us up well for our last two games where we can target a third place finish.”

Two early penalties from visiting scrum-half Barry Lynn sandwiched a similar score from his opposite number Aaron Kennedy. Jonny Pollock did well to collect the re-start after the second Bective score and after he had linked with Jonny Little the centre put Adam Doherty through on a run to the line.

But as the full-back ran round behind the posts, he lost control of the ball as he went to touch down and Bective were able to clear, but only briefly.

Adam Ervine’s dash down the left flank was halted short of the line but Bann won a penalty, opted for a 5-metre scrum, and with the Bective pack in reverse, No 8 Stephen Irvine picked up and dived over for the opening try.

Kennedy and Lynn exchanged penalties before Doherty fielded a kick inside his own 22 and initiated a move which saw Pollock and Kennedy make 40 metres for Ervine to finish off under the Bective posts, Kennedy adding the extras for an 18-9 interval lead.

With the wind at their backs and confidence now rampant throughout the side, Bann added five converted tries to their first half tally as Bective’s weaknesses out wide and at the set scrum were cruelly exposed. Two minutes in Kennedy nipped in under the posts after taking a feed from Irvine off the base of a five metre scrum.

Doherty picked up a loose ball 60 metres out and out-sprinted the cover to dive in at the corner flag, making amends for his earlier mishap. Then John Porter hacked through on a loose ball from just inside the Bective half and showed neat control to steer the ball over the try line before effecting the touchdown.

Doherty was stopped just short after another impressive run, but Bann won a penalty and when it was taken quickly, flanker Peter Cromie was on hand to cross for the sixth try.

The final try, like the first, came from Bann’s superior scrum. Bective had the put-in five metres from their own line but they were driven back and Irvine was again the beneficiary as he picked up his second try.

Kennedy added the conversions to all five second half tries, giving him a personal tally of 23 points.

This weekend’s Ulster League game against Malone has been brought forward to Friday night, with a 7.45pm kick-off at Gibson Park. The Ulster League home game against Queen’s will also be played on a Friday evening, with a 7.45 ko at Rifle Park on 20th March.

Bann’s penultimate AIL game is at Naas on Saturday 28th. Last Saturday the Co Kildare side inflicted a first defeat of the season on runaway league leaders Old Wesley, whom Bann face at home in the final game.

That means two tough encounters for a Bann side which has recovered well from a shaky start to the season. But with just a point separating third-placed Skerries, Bann and Cashel, it will be a great achievement if Bann can finish in the third place that Soper has targeted.