Bann edged out by the students in Ulster League

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A hat-trick of tries from winger Damon Hall laid the foundation for Queen’s‘ 28-23 success over Banbridge in this Ulster League game played last Friday night.

With a number of regulars unavailable through niggling injury, Bann promoted Gareth Houston (wing), Tim Savage (hooker), Alan Conn (lock) and flankers Paul Ross and Richard Graham from the ranks of the Seconds.

Hall gave early notice of his try-scoring prowess when he scorched in for the opening score with just two minutes played. Full-back Justin Rea slotted over the conversion but by the 13th minute that lead had been reduced to a single point thanks to two penalties converted by Aaron Kennedy.

Five minutes later, Queen’s picked up their second try, with flanker Stuart Hooks taking full advantage of a series of ineffectual tackles to touch down under the posts, Rea again converting.

Bann were on top for the next 10 minutes but failed to translate that into points on the board and by half-time they were 6-21 in arrears after Hall had raced in unopposed with Rea’s unerring boot adding the extras.

But when the visitors broke out on the hour, the pace in their threequarter line created the third opportunity for Hall and he raced behind the posts to make the conversion a formality.

Three minutes later, Bann picked up their first try, with John Porter’s half break proving the catalyst for James McCrum’s thrust for the line from close range. The conversion was off-target but the visitors were soon on the rack again and after Kennedy had found a gap in the students’ defence, Stuart Cromie copied fellow prop McCrum’s trick as he drove over from close range. Kennedy converted for an 18-28 scoreline with eight minutes remaining.

Bann continued to edge the exchanges but their third try, courtesy of Ross, from the final play of the game came too late to give them a chance of avenging their AIL defeat. It did earn Bann a losing bonus point but the students took a full quota for their four try win.

This Saturday Bann travel to Naas for their penultimate AIL game. Having two weeks ago inflicted on league leaders Old Wesley their only defeat of the season, the Co Kildare side will be confident of repeating that success against Banbridge, despite the latter sitting five places above them in Division 2A.

But Bann are on something of a run, having won their last five AIL games so Saturday’s game is sure to be closely contested.