BANN Fifths travelled to Larne in the third round of the McCambley Cup hoping to continue their progression in the competition.
It was a frantic start to the match with both teams trying the difficult skills rather than just keeping possession and doing the basics.
Play was good on an individual basis from the Bann players but at this stage they were not playing as a unit. It was a good twenty minutes into the game before they started to threaten the home side’s line. Good ground made by Darren McAlinden was built on by scrum-half Jake Fisher who fed his backline, allowing Alan Gibson and Chris Nelmes to combine to take play up to the Larne “22”.
From here Richard McElroy picked and drove on and slipped a pass to Gibson who went over the try-line but failed to ground the ball.
Bann were awarded the scrum and No 8 Simon Dennis picked the ball and drove over the line for the first score of the game. Fisher successfully kicked the conversion.
Bann were now in the ascendency and both forward and backs were moving the ball as best as the heavy pitch would allow. Full-back Dewi Morris fed Stuart Wickie who went close but was driven into touch, allowing Larne to clear downfield.
Following the half time interval Bann continued to push for their second try and good tactical kicking from out-half Stuart Wilson put them inside the Larne “22” for a line-out.
With the Bann jumpers controlling this phase of the game it was no surprise when they spoiled the Larne throw-in and won the ball. From the resulting ruck Fisher freed his back line and only an unfortunate pull-up and injury to Morris prevented a further score.
The Larne forwards were under all sorts of pressure both in the scrum and through the line-out where Gareth Briggs was hitting his jumper every time.
Even when the Larne out-half decided to run a penalty from his own half he was solidly met and tackled by McAlinden, who was having an outstanding game. The resultant slow, popped up ball was ripped and stolen by Gibson who then out-paced the defence to score under the posts. Fisher was successful with the conversion and also a penalty shortly after giving Bann a 17 – 0 lead that they were never going to relinquish.
The home team did score a consolation try late on but Bann were not to be denied passage into the quarter-final of the cup.