Bann Thirds 20
Rainey Thirds 19
Robin Thompson’s 79th minute penalty gave Bann Thirds the lead for the first time in this first round Crawford Cup game.
And the home side played out the seconds remaining after the re-start to claim a win that had for much of the game looked beyond them.
With both sides trying to play attacking rugby the game ebbed and flowed in the first half.
Bann probably had as many scoring chances but Rainey’s more clinical finishing saw them grab two tries, one converted, for a 0-12 lead.
Then just before the break Bann’s experienced lock Andy Brown, playing his first game of the season, took a feed from scrum-half Chris Berry to force his way over from close range. Thompson’s conversion narrowed the gap to five points at the interval.
Like Brown, Chris Watt was making a return to the action for the first time in over 12 months. And the winger showed that he had lost none of his pace as he scorched in on the blind side for the equalising score early in the second half.
A third Rainey try looked to have booked the visitors’place in the second round, especially when Thompson failed to add the conversion to No 8 Andrew Davidson’s touchdown off a 5-metre lineout late in the game.
But Bann were soon back in Rainey territory and when the referee awarded them another penalty, Thompson stepped up to put over the challenging kick for the narrowest of wins.
Watt was Bann’s man-of-the-match, with his touchdown complemented by a defensive display that included a couple of try-saving tackles.