RUGBY: Victorious Bann can still improve

Adam Doherty scored three tries for Banbridge on Saturday. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.
Adam Doherty scored three tries for Banbridge on Saturday. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye.

“An excellent result – exactly what we wanted to get from our first game.”

That was Coach Daniel Soper’s summary after his side had demolished newly-promoted Sunday’s Well 41-12 at a sunny Rifle Park.

“It certainly wasn’t a perfect performance by any stretch but we still have that ability to score tries like the one from our own line,” he continued.

“When we get the ball we just flick a switch and a real focus comes on and away we go. Defensively we made a few mistakes like guys picking up the wrong player so we’ve work to do on that.”

Despite a number of handling errors, Bann still managed to accumulate six tries, with full-back Adam Doherty claiming half of them, the pick being that 90 metre effort at the end of the first half that so pleased the Coach.

With Ian Porter ruled out by injury, Josh Cromie started at scrum-half and he kick-started the scoring spree when he darted in from 10 metres, with new out-half Andrew Magrath kicking the conversion.

Andrew Morrison’s break put Doherty in for his first try and after Bann won turnover ball inside their 22, the full-back carried to halfway.

He then linked with winger John Porter before taking the return pass on the Well 22 and touching down at the posts. Magrath converted and then just before the interval stroked over a fine penalty from out wide and into the wind for a 22-0 lead.

Early in the second half left winger Adam Ervine picked up from the base of a ruck to find a gap in the Well defence and sprint home from the 22 for the bonus point try, with Magrath adding the extras.

The visitors eventually got on the scoreboard thanks to an unconverted try but Doherty caught a clearance kick on the opposition 22 and won the race to his own chip ahead to touch down for a third time.

Well logged a second try, plus conversion, but fittingly it was the home side which brought the scoring to a conclusion.

Chris Allen’s ankle injury had seen Kallan Martin take over in the second row after just 10 minutes and the replacement lock picked up the final score of the day, touching down from close range to seal the win.

Soper was well pleased with the performance of debutant out-half Andrew Magrath.

“I thought he did really well, especially when you consider that he’d only trained twice with the squad because of his Ulster Development team commitments,” said a delighted coach.

“And in both of those sessions he’d been paired with Ian Porter who was replaced for the game by Josh (Cromie).

“He defended very well, kicked out of hand nicely, kicked his goals well and won penalties at the breakdown. As he gets to know the players and the way we play he’ll get stronger and stronger, I’ve no doubt.”

Next up for Banbridge is a trip to take on Queen’s in their second All-Ireland League game of the season.

Injury may rule out both Allen and Ian Porter for that match but after Saturday’s performance, the Bann supporters know that there is a greater strength in depth than has been the case at Rifle Park for several seasons.