Banbridge coach Daniel Soper is unlikely to be pressing the panic button just yet, but he will have been disappointed to have lost their second Ulster Senior League game .
Instonians play their All-Ireland rugby in Division 2B and so Bann might reasonably have expected to come out on top. Those pre-match expectations would have been reinforced by Shandon Scott’s ninth minute try, the out-half shimmying over the home line after a sustained assault in which flanker Ryan Patterson and scrum-half Aaron Kennedy played prominent roles.
Scott’s attempted conversion went wide and five minutes later his opposite number, Gareth Lawlor, slotted over a 30 metre penalty to reduce the arrears to two points.
That they didn’t add to their points tally can be attributed in part to some resilient Instonians defence and a ball made difficult to handle by the wet conditions. But clear scoring chances were created and duly wasted and ultimately that was to prove costly.
Nine minutes into the second half Andrew Kirkwood’s exquisitely delayed pass put Chris Allen in for Bann’s second try, after Patterson had again punched a hole in the home defence. Scott’s conversion attempt found the mark and Bann were now nine points clear and looking set for success.
Lawlor struck over a second penalty on 52 minutes to keep his side in touch as Bann were forced to re-shuffle their ranks, Stephen Irvine and Gregg Taylor joining Jonny Graham on the sidelines after all three picked up minor knocks.
Twelve minutes from the end a resurgent Instonians capitalised on good field position to put Lawlor in for a try close to the posts. The out-half’s conversion edged his side in front but Instonians infringed at the re-start and Scott converted from 35 metres to re-claim the lead.
With five minutes remaining Inst launched another attack and the Bann defence again cracked to let full-back Richard Fegan in for a try in the corner. The conversion was missed but when Bann were penalised for holding after the tackle while attempting to build a counter-attack from inside their “22”, Lawlor kicked his third penalty for a six point lead they held until the end.