Banbridge return to winning ways

BANBRIDGE returned in style to their pre-Christmas winning ways, running in six second half tries against Midleton to consolidate their fourth place in Division 2A of the All-Ireland League.

It was a very experienced if not quite veteran Midleton side that took the field, but they showed as much willingness as the home outfit to run the ball in the opening half.

Despite that, neither side was able to engineer a breakthrough. Bann had the early chances to score but a crooked throw negated a promising lineout before John Porter just failed to catch brother Ian’s delicate cross-field kick, the ball going into touch just short of the Midleton line.

No 8 Jonny Graham was hauled down just short of the visitors’ posts, but the pressure was eventually relieved when a Bann player was yellow-carded for taking retributive action at a ruck.

Twelve minutes in Bann took the lead, Ian Porter kicking a penalty from close to the halfway line. That was to prove the only score before the interval, with Jeff Hitchmough failing to level the scores with a similar opportunity from 35 metres range and good defensive work by Adam Doherty halting a promising Midleton attack near the end of the half.

Four tries in a 14 minute blitz at the start of the second half sealed Midleton’e fate. The powerhouse running of flanker Ryan Patterson set up good attacking ruck ball, Doherty went for a gap in the Midleton lines and although he was hauled down short, his pop pass to Colin Bickerstaff put the prop in for the opening try.

Four minutes later Chris Allen made good ground following a quick free on halfway, he off-loaded to Ian Porter and the scrum-half had a clear run in from the “22”, adding the conversion for good measure.

Graham should have scored three minutes later following a sweeping movement, only to knock on three metres out. But Midleton were now well and truly on the rack. David Weir was held up over the line but after a series of rucks Stephen Irvine forced his way over for the third try.

The silky running of John Porter and Matthew McDonald initiated a flowing Bann attack from their own half which ended with a scrum five metres out from the visitors’ line. Graham’s pick and drive set up the ruck from which Irvine again used his strength to cross the whitewash.

So with 56 minutes gone, Bann had their bonus point and a 25-0 advantage, which was built on 12 minutes later when Andrew Morrison gathered a ball knocked on inside Midleton’s “22” and strolled in at the posts, Porter adding the conversion.

Two tries from the Cork side in the last ten minutes gave the scoreline the element of respectability their efforts had earned, with centres Jason Holland and Gary Colbert taking advantage of some loose defensive work in the home ranks.

Hitchmough added the conversions to both but Bann had the final say, Ian Porter picking up another Midleton knock-on to put replacement wing Andrew Kirkwood off on a run down the left flank.

With the defence closing in he put in a well-judged grubber which Gregg Taylor collected before touching down, Porter’s conversion signalling the end of the game.