FOUR tries in each half from a well-drilled UUC outfit saw Banbridge suffer their heaviest defeat in All-Ireland rugby for several seasons.
The students gave early warning of their potential when they capitalised on a poor Bann lineout to put winger Olann Dennehy in for the opening score with just three minutes played, with out-half Sean Og Murphy adding the conversion.
Bann countered within six minutes, centre Andrew Morrison intercepting just inside his own half and out-sprinting the defence to touch down in the corner. A missed tackle in midfield provided the opening for UCC to put full-back Darren Sweetnam in for his side’s second try.
Bann were still competing strongly at this stage and although a sustained attack was temporarily brought to an end by a turnover just in front of the home posts, the attempted clearance kick was charged down. Gregg Taylor gathered and put No 8 Jonny Graham in for Bann’s second try, pegging the students’ lead back to 12-10 with 22 minutes played.
Murphy’s penalty stretched the lead on the half hour but four minutes later Bann hooker David Weir was just bundled into touch a metre short of the try line. The students ran the ball from the lineout, taking play to the other end of the pitch where Sweetnam stretched out of a tackle to effect the touchdown for his second try, with Murphy adding the extras.
The bonus point try came just before the break, with prop peter McCabe finding space on the right flank to cross the Bann line. Indeed they almost got in for a fifth from the last play of the half after another Bann lineout had been fluffed.
A second Murphy penalty kicked off the second half scoring and after Ian Porter had seen his 42 metre penalty attempt drift wide of the posts, weak tackling allowed Dennehy in for his second try of the afternoon.
Bann then enjoyed their most promising spell of the half, but three 5-metre lineouts failed to yield a positive outcome, with flanker Stephen Irvine’s thrust for the line just being held out by the UCC defence.
After knocking on with the line at his mercy, Murphy eventually added the sixth try for the Munster side after his dummy had flat-footed the defence. The out-half added the conversion to his own try and two further touchdowns from replacement prop Shane Moynihan and centre Luke Duffy. Those 21 points added in a nine minute blitz took the scoreline to 56-10, perhaps a distorted picture of the overall balance of play which was only partially redressed by Michael Cromie’s last minute try for the visitors, converted by Porter.
But there was no argument with the overall result, with Bann falling short at the set-piece and particularly round the pitch where they struggled to contain the students’ greater mobility and slick off-loading.