Bann RFC up for ‘must win’ clash at Dungannon in All Ireland League

Banbridge coach Daniel Soper speaks to his men during a recent match. Pic by Mark Pearce /
Banbridge coach Daniel Soper speaks to his men during a recent match. Pic by Mark Pearce /

Banbridge RFC coach Daniel Soper says his men are ‘fed up’ with narrow defeats this season.

Banbridge faced yet more heartache recently when they suffered a 19-17 defeat due to a last minute converted try against Skerries.

As the local side go into a crucial clash against Dungannon RFC in the All Ireland League this weekend, (Saturday, December 20, kick off 2.30pm at Stevenson Park), Banbridge are looking to put their misfortunes behind them as they head into the Christmas break.

With Bann currently lying ninth in Division 2A, they know it is vital to get points on the board if they are to stay in the top ten and avoid being amongst the bottom six who will drop down a league.

“It is definitely a ‘must win’ match for us,” Soper said. “We’re all getting fed up losing by a couple of points like we did last Saturday.

“It’s happened a number of times to us this year and we’re hoping to get on the right side of a narrow win.

“We don’t want to go into the Christmas break and into the end of January before we play in the All Ireland League again, with a loss,” he added.

“Last Saturday, it was really in the last 20 minutes that we lost the match,” Soper added.

“We were ahead and we had the chance to close the game out, but our tactics weren’t great in the last 20 minutes and that cost us.

“It was a similar sort of thing at the City of Derry. We were trying to be ambitious and play the percentages but it just didn’t work.”

Speaking about his team, Soper said: “I can’t question their commitment or their attiude, but sometimes the decision making has let us down.

“The boys have kept on trying and they’ve been out there training hard this week, and it’s been cold out there, but they’ve been working hard and kept going.

“We have a big week next week. We need to keep going, but the Christmas period doesn’t do us any favours. We won’t be training that week and then we’ll be back to it.”

Following Dungannon’s relegation from Division 1 last season, this will be the first time the two sides have played each other in the league.

“Dungannon have always been ahead of us in the league,” Soper commented. “They have a dominant pack of forwards and the club are desperate not to slide any more than they have from last year. They’ll be trying to get a win into Christmas, the same as us, so it won’t be an easy proposition.

“This is the sort of game you relish. Dungannon playing in this league is great, but we don’t see ourselves as the poor little brother anymore.

“We’re ninth at the minute and we really haven’t performed at all well since the first game, except for Barnhall, we’ve had so many narrow losses, if we can change that, we should have no problem staying in the top ten.

“A lot of our remaining games are against teams below us so we hope the second half of the year will be a lot kinder to us.

“Obviously those sides will be fighting for their place in the league,” Soper added. “So it won’t be an easy second half to the season.”