A hat trick of tries from centre Andrew Morrison set Banbridge on their way to a comprehensive win over Corinthians at a fog-shrouded Rifle Park.
Bann Coach Daniel Soper was in no doubt that the success came from a solid team display with every member of the squad playing a part. “I was delighted to get the five points,” he said.
“I thought we got better as the game went on. Maybe we were a bit fortunate with the first two tries – we didn’t quite have the rhythm and we weren’t playing into the space we created in the first half but we improved as the game went on with the players off the bench playing an important role.”
Corinthians opened the scoring with a third minute penalty courtesy of out-half Simon Keller. But Morrison was up quickly to field Adam Doherty’s re-start drop-out and race clear for a try which the full-back bettered off the tee.
Bann were reduced to 14 in the 20th minute when Chris Allen picked up a yellow card for not using his arms at the tackle.
When Corinthians dropped a pass just inside the Bann half in the 23rd minute the ball was hacked through and Adam Ervine chased up to collect, drawing the last defender to put Morrison in at the posts, with Doherty converting.
A melee in the middle of the field towards the end of the first half ended with Bann’s replacement prop Stuart Cromie being yellow-carded. And when No 8 Stephen Irvine suffered a similar fate two minutes later for a high tackle Bann found themselves defending a scrum under their posts with thirteen.
Seventeen minutes into the second half Morrison struck again, finishing off after John Porter had made the initial incursion deep into the visitors’ “22” for slick handling to put the centre in for his treble.
Corinthians were still battling hard and a 5-metre lineout was driven over the home line for flanker Sam McCormac to touch down, Keller’s conversion made it 19-10.
But replacement winger Conor Field showed his finishing prowess in the 72nd minute when he scorched in off Ervine’s pass for the bonus point try. Doherty again found the target off the tee and he took ruck ball to race in under the posts from the final play of the game, adding the conversion for good measure.
“I thought the guys showed a huge amount of resilience during that period when we were down to thirteen and it was excellent that we didn’t let them score,” said Soper.
“Peter (Cromie) is one of our stand-out players and he’s just getting better and better. He reads the game so well – he’s such a clever rugby player. But we brought him off because of a niggly injury and we didn’t lose too much when Fraser (Mulholland) came on.
“And we’re starting to develop that depth in the backs as well. John Porter had looked dangerous on a number of occasions and when we took him off Conor (Field) came on and took his try really well. He got himself in the position to take Adam’s pass and finish it off.
“This weekend we face a big challenge at Highfield. Our performances on the road haven’t been very consistent but hopefully we can finish 2016 with a really positive performance and then enjoy the break. And when the AIL resumes again at the end of January we should have a few guys back from long-term injury to further bolster the squad.”