BANBRIDGE made their first ever visit to Crowley Park a winning one as they edged out Galwegians in an eight try thriller.
With the teams side by side near the top of Division 2A going into the game it was always likely to prove a close affair. And at the end, with both sides having picked up the bonus point for scoring four tries, the result was settled by Ian Porter’s penalty kicked near the end of the first half.
The early exchanges gave a taste of what was to follow. Three minutes in lock Chris Allen crossed for the visitors’ first try after his side had gone through the phases inside the Galwegians “22”, with Porter adding the conversion.
But the sides were level within two minutes with pressure from the re-start kick allowing Galwegians in for their first touchdown.
Although the game continued to entertain the Easter holiday crowd, there was no further scoring until five minutes before the break. The Galwegians scrum-half capitalised on a mix-up at the back of a Bann scrum on the visitors’ 10 metre line, picking up and out-sprinting the flat defence for a second converted try.
Bann went on the offensive from the re-start, winning that penalty for Porter inside the opposition “22”, the conversion of which was to prove so crucial to the final outcome.
Bann’s four point deficit at the break was soon overhauled, with out-half Adam Doherty slicing through the Galwegians line for an unconverted try. Bann continued to have the upper hand and on 52 minutes Peter Cromie finished off after the home defence had again been stretched to breaking point. Porter’s conversion took the scoreline to 14-22.
And when Bann added their fourth try two minutes later the game seemed to be in the bag. A loose ball on their own 10 metre line was collected by centre Andrew Morrison and he raced 40 metres before drawing the last defender to put left wing John Porter in at the corner flag.
But for the second time in the game Bann were reduced to 14 men for a technical offence and two unconverted Galwegians tries in seven minutes reduced the lead to three points with eight minutes left on the clock.
Fortunately Bann were able to see out the time remaining largely in the opposition half, denying Galwegians even the opportunity of the penalty that would have allowed them to share the spoils.
Morrison and Allen both put in fine performances but the man-of-the-match accolade went to Cromie, with the 18 year-old hooker combining hard work in the loose with an impressive display at the set piece.
Bann now have two games remaining, both at home. Seapoint come to Rifle Park this Saturday to play the game postponed from 23rd March and the following weekend DLSP will come to Banbridge for the first time. Nine points from those two games will guarantee Bann fourth place in the league, which would represent an excellent first season following promotion.