Five-try bonus point win lifts Banbridge into fourth place

James McCrum and Steven Irvine in action for Banbridge. INBL1508-229PB
James McCrum and Steven Irvine in action for Banbridge. INBL1508-229PB

A five-try bonus point 34-12 win that lifted Banbridge into fourth place in Division 2A of the All-Ireland League still left coach Daniel Soper looking for more from his charges.

“Of course I’m delighted to get five points,” he said after the game. “But there’s a lot to improve on.”

Certainly in the opening plays Bann looked much the better side with their lively threequarters looking to run the ball on every occasion, regardless of field position.

And when Jonny Little found a gap in the Seapoint defence following a lineout on the visitors’ “22” 10 minutes into the game, his centre partner Andrew Morrison was on hand to take the offload and touch down under the posts, with the conversion from Aaron Kennedy taking the home side seven points clear.

Kennedy made an incisive break off the base of a ruck and although his offload was knocked on, he slotted over the penalty that his side won soon afterwards.But Seapoint hit back straight from the re-start, flanker Marty Kerr pouncing on an uncontrolled ball at the base of a ruck to steam in for a try which full-back James Kelly bettered.

That gave the Leinster side the boost they needed and aided and abetted by those errors highlighted by Soper, they were able to contain the threat offered by the home side for the remainder of the first half without seriously threatening to add to their own tally.

A warning to both sides for repeated offending saw John Porter pay the penalty with a yellow card two minutes after the break and Kerr almost inflicted further punishment on the home side as he broke clear only to be hauled down short of the line.

Porter had just returned to the Bann ranks when it was the opposition’s turn to play a man short, winger Danny Ruddock taking an enforced break for tackling Adam Ervine when the Bann player was in mid-air.

The penalty didn’t make touch but Bann skipper Jonny Graham broke through from a ruck and found Jonny Pollock with an inside pass. The out-half made ground then sent a finely-judged grubber into the in-goal for Ervine to win the race to touch down. The Bann backs were now really fizzing and Doherty’s fine dash almost put winger Porter in for a third try.

Replacement Miles O’Hagan came in off his blindside wing to fend off a tackle and feed Little, whose dummy gave him an unopposed run to the posts, Kennedy converting. Bann’s strong scrummage had Seapoint retreating at a set piece five metres out, leaving Kennedy with the simple task of picking up and diving over before adding the extras.

Three tries and two conversions in that 14 minute blitz had given the home side an unassailable 29-7 lead on 68 minutes and although Seapoint rallied briefly to pick up a second try through flanker Eoin Cremen, Bann had the last say with Peter Cromie finishing off in the right hand corner after Morrison’s chip and catch had created havoc in the Seapoint defence.

Soper had praise for some of the individual performances. “But a team performance like that simply won’t be good enough at Rainey,” he said looking forward to Saturday’s trip to Magherafelt. “They’re badly in need of a win to give them a chance of survival in this Division and they’ll be fighting tooth and nail to get it.”