Banbridge suffered a narrow defeat in the opening game of their Ulster Senior League campaign, losing out to a Malone side that made the most of the scoring opportunities that came their way.
This was a game to keep the spectators engaged on a warm summer’s evening, with both sides showing a willingness to run the ball from deep positions.
Shandon Scott opened the scoring for the home side in the 10th minute and as the Bann pack continued to supply a healthy share of set piece ball, the out-half doubled the tally in the 19th minute. Malone’s response came via Peter Henderson, with the full-back chipping behind the defence and out-pacing the cover for an unconverted try.
Five minutes before the interval winger Jay Malcolm used his strength to round off an attack down Malone’s left flank, fending off a number of tacklers en-route to the try line. Mark Gribben’s conversion took his side 6-12 ahead but Bann responded to take a one point lead into the break, with centre Jonny Little taking Scott’s inside pass to cross for a try to which the out-half added the extras.
The visitors had the edge in the opening exchanges of the second half and 13 minutes in hooker Darryl Maxwell effected the touchdown after his pack had mauled the ball over the Bann line from a lineout, with Gribben doing well to slot over the conversion.
Bann were far from a spent force and an impressive run from lock Chris Allen, which featured a number of dummies, should have yielded a second try. But instead it was Malone who extended their lead, thanks to a Gribben penalty.
The home side piled on the pressure and were duly rewarded when winger Adam Doherty finished off a prolonged attack by touching down out wide.
The conversion missed the target and Malone were able to see out the short time remaining without further threat to their line.