BANBRIDGE earned the right to take on hosts Portadown in last night’s (Tuesday) final of the Nutty Krust Floodlit Tournament, thanks to a comprehensive win over Ballynahinch in last Wednesday’s semi-final.
Banbridge dominated the game from the outset, with locks Stuart Walker and Kyle McConnell, and openside flanker Richard Graham particularly prominent.
The quality possession secured was well used throughout by half backs Jason Gribben and Macauley Little.
Bann opened the scoring when scrumhalf Gribben broke blind and fed wing Kenny Wiltshire who scored in the left hand corner. Little missed the conversion leaving Bann with a 5-0 lead.
Following a series of forward drives, flanker Ryan Dennison touched down for his side’s second try, with Little adding the difficult conversion giving Bann a 12-0 half time lead
Ballynahinch started the second period with renewed belief and energy, leading to superb line breaks by centres Matthew McClelland and Owen Jarvie. However, Banbridge’s well organised defence stood firm and ‘Hinch were unable to capitalise on opportunities created during this good spell.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, Banbridge opted to freshen up their team with Peter Cromie, Thomas Carlisle and Josh Coyle all entering the fray. It paid dividends almost immediately as Gribben darted over close to the posts to score. Little added the points to extend Bann’s lead to 19-0.
Adam Doherty, one of a number of Bann players with AIL experience, was introduced in place of Wiltshire, and he soon made his presence felt as he collected a neat grubber kick by Little to score. Little, who was striking the ball beautifully off the tee, had no trouble in extending the lead to 26-0.
‘Hinch introduced a number of replacements to try to stem the Banbridge attacks but despite their valiant effort there was no stopping Doherty who scored a splendid individual try to complete the scoring and see Banbridge record a 31-0 victory.
There were a number of outstanding candidates for the Man of the Match award but the accolade went to Banbridge’s Richard Graham.
Bann’s 19s are also in the final of the Ulster Cup, with the team travelling to Ravenhill on 11th May to take on City of Derry.