RUGBY: Two wins from triumph

Chris Allen will be available after his two week suspension. INBL1540-307PB
Chris Allen will be available after his two week suspension. INBL1540-307PB

Banbridge coach Daniel Soper is hoping he can replicate the success of his RBAI team with his club.

Bann are top of Division 2A and two wins in their final two matches should secure promotion.

Daniel Soper. Pic: Presseye

Daniel Soper. Pic: Presseye

Soper shepherded the school to their second successive Schools’ Cup title last week and now he wants to use the same tactics to force his Bann side over the finish line.

They travel to take on second bottom Galway Corinthians on Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm) before returning to Rifle Park to finish off their Division 2A campaign against Malone a week later.

“We’ve got a semi-final and a final coming up,” said Soper.

“It’s a big challenge for us but it’s nice to be in the position that if we win both of our games, it should be enough.”

Soper, however, is keen not to get bogged down with how many points his top of the table side need to seal the title, rather drawing on an approach that proved successful for RBAI.

“What we will be focusing on is how we play,” he said.

“We will focus on the quality of our play and what we need to do to win these games and get us up.“We haven’t done a huge amount of training. We’ve done a few different things but we decided to try and switch off for a couple of weeks.

“It’s pretty similar to what we did with the school guys. We didn’t want to focus on having the win the game but rather on the things we needed to do on the pitch that would enable us to win.”

Bann are well rested, coming back from two weeks without a fixture. Soper says his side took the opportunity to ‘switch off’ for a fortnight but says it will be ‘foot to the floor’ when training resumes tonight (Tuesday).

The added bonus of the break means Chris Allen, who was sent off in the last match, will be available as his two week ban is already spent.

Understandably, coach Soper is keen to ensure his players keen their feet firmly on the ground before two key matches.

“It would be huge,” he began, briefly considering the prospect of taking his side into the unchartered territory of Division 1B.

“It would be great for the club and a great recognition of the long-term investment that we have made in our players.

“It would be great for those players as well that they could play at that level as a collective rather than having to go elsewhere to do it.

“But if we let ourselves get distracted by those thoughts, we can lose focus. If we’re still top a 4 o’clock on the 2nd April, then we’ll dream.”

Bann are off to Galway Corinthians on Saturday before returning home to conclude the season against Malone.

Galway are just one place off the foot of the table. With 35 points separating the sides, Bann will go in heavy favourites.

But Galway are coming off the back of two wins on the trot, and Soper knows an upset is all too possible.

He said: “The gap between teams at the top and the bottom of divisions isn’t huge. At this stage of the season, teams at the bottom win games because they are desperate to get results.

“Galway will be desperate to win at home on Saturday. They’ll be looking to catch Skerries and avoid any chance of relegation.

“But they are down there for a reason, they have been inconsistent. And we are at the top because of what we do well.

“We have to go there with confidence that we are a better team and if we play as well as we can, hopefully that will be enough.”