Bann defence stay strong as hosts hold Blackrock

Banbridge v Blackrock College � Edward Byrne Photography INBL1444-234EB
Banbridge v Blackrock College � Edward Byrne Photography INBL1444-234EB

Banbridge’s defence earned them a credible 3-3 draw at home to Dublin side Blackrock on Saturday.

In a game heavily impacted by the wind and rain, Bann were 3-0 ahead at the break thanks to an Aaron Kennedy penalty and, playing against the gusts after half-time, they kept their opponents at bay.

Banbridge v Blackrock College � Edward Byrne Photography INBL1444-235EB

Banbridge v Blackrock College � Edward Byrne Photography INBL1444-235EB

Banbridge Head Coach Daniel Soper praised his side’s defence after a performance and result that were much improved on their recent three successive defeats.

“I was pretty happy with our performance. It was a big improvement on our last two or three games. We defended heroically, particularly in the second half when we were playing into the wind.

“The boys were magnificent. They had the majority of the possession in that second half but our tactics and systems were good. I can’t really remember a line-break so that was a real pleasing factor for us, particularly after we had leaked quite a few scores in our previous game against Armagh.

“Our penalty count was very low too. I think we gave away eight penalties and when you have to defend like we did, that’s pretty good going.

“Certainly it was a big step forward in terms of performance and the attitude of the guys was first class. Our defence got us through. Most people watching the match would have thought 3-0 at half-time wasn’t enough but we defended well.

“The score probably didn’t do the game justice. It was so wet and miserable and, in those conditions, it was a pretty reasonable game.

“Sometimes when you see a 3-3 scoreline you think it must have been dreadful but it was actually alright.

“We created opportunities to score but we just didn’t finish off the chances that we had. That’s been a bit of a story for us so far this season. We need to improve on that.”

Kennedy opened the scoring on five minutes and Bann held that lead until late in the game, despite twice going a player down when Colin Bickerstaff and Steven Irvine were given yellow cards.

“Colin received a yellow in a decision that was complete nonsense,” said Soper. “It’s just a mistake by the officials and I know that when I send the video to the Referee Manager in Dublin, he will agree with me on that.

“Colin was hard-done by by Steven Irvine’s card was fair enough. He was slowing the ball up in the ruck.”

There was more controversy late on when Blackrock felt they had scored a good try that was ruled out by the touch judge. In the end, they had to settle for a point on a day that Bann proved they could mix it with the top sides in Division 2A.

He said: “Blackrock have got some talented players, a very good number eight and scrum-half. They were very organised as we would expect but we’re learning that we don’t need to fear anyone in this league.

“If they’re in this league, they’re here for a reason and our players are as good as the opposition. We just need to get organised together as a team.”