Bann boys must stick to the plan

Banbridge have high hopes for league progress. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Banbridge have high hopes for league progress. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Daniel Soper wants his Banbridge RFC players to get back to the drawing board this weekend.

Not that they have to chalk up a new plan, more just remember what’s been etched on their blueprint for promotion.

Bann had been on top of Division 2A but three successive defeats have seen Soper’s men drop to fifth in the table.

On Saturday, they travel to take on second-bottom Cashel and Soper wants his side to stay true to the pre-match plan.

“I can’t fault the effort of the players but we need to be a lot smarter and make better decisions on the ball,” he said.

“We’ve lost a bit of clarity with how we’re trying to play, which hasn’t helped when the pressure is on. If you’re not clear with what you’re trying to do, you can get distracted. When things go wrong, we have diverted away from our gameplan rather than moved back towards it.

“Our defence, which has been good over the past couple of seasons, has been weak. We think we have got on top of that to a large extent but we still have lapses. Other teams are getting stronger and are capitalising on those. In the last few seasons, you might have got away with them but now if you have a bad ten minutes, you can be heavily punished by any team in the division.”

Bann have seven matches left to rescue their title bid and Soper knows some good results could soon send his boys back to the top.

“We’re still only four points off first place and we have to play three of the four sides above us again,” he said. “If we can win those games, we’ll be right back up there.

“I’m not one for long-term goals. It’s all about winning the next week and that’s even more important this weekend.

“More than the result, it’s about putting in a performance that we’re satisfied with and we can look at and say ‘yes, that’s how we want to play and that shows the quality of our squad.’

“If we do that and get beaten by a better squad, well that can happen.

“Our last couple of defeats, though, we’ve looked back at and been disappointed by ourselves. On review, we had done enough to win the games but made mistakes at crucial times.

“We haven’t deserved to win because we haven’t played as well as we need to in order to win games or win the league.”

Soper also pinpointed injury problems so far this term, although he has no fresh worries for his side’s trip south this weekend.

“We’ve had to change the number nine and 10 positions a lot because of injuries and that’s had an impact,” he said. “Andy Magrath has played at outhalf recently and hopefully we can keep him there for a run of games now. That will make a difference. We have Josh Cromie in at scrum-half and we have Ian Porter to come back into the squad next week as well.”