Bann secure five league points against Coleraine
These two teams shared 11 tries, with the lead changing hands several times.
But it was the home team who took the five league points on the back of a 6-5 try count, thanks to a last ditch tackle in the last play of the game which denied Coleraine the win.
Macauley Little’s sixth minute penalty set up the lineout from which Bann drove the maul over the line for Robin Hewitt to touch down, with Harry Bird adding an impressive conversion into the wind.
Coleraine responded promptly, taking advantage of a Bann knock-on to go through the phases before touching down in the corner.
Scrum-half Harry Patterson’s darting run down the blindside was taken on 50 metres by James Buller. And after Robbie Mathers and Hewitt had carried deeper into the visitors’ half, full-back Gareth Hutton ran a great line to wrong-foot the Coleraine defence, his unconverted try taking Bann 12-5 ahead.
The nip-and-tuck nature of the game continued, with Coleraine’s second try levelling the scores.
Coleraine collected the re-start but when they attempted to run the ball, Bann winger Jack Myles intercepted and raced clear to touch down. But by the interval the visitors were back in front as they took advantage of some indifferent defensive work to cross for a converted try and a 17-19 lead.
A series of offside infringements led to Hewitt taking a ‘team yellow’. And his side paid the price in the ten minutes that followed, shipping two converted tries for what seemed an unassailable 17-33 deficit.
But another penalty-lineout-maul sequence gave Mathers the chance to go in from close range. And soon afterwards Little’s quick thinking caught Coleraine sleeping as the skipper put Myles in for his second try off a lineout.
Two conversions from Bird’s boot now had Bann just two points short of parity and the home side went in for the kill. Little’s kick to take advantage of the 50/22 law change set Bann up for a period of pressure which led to Coleraine picking up a yellow card. But from the scrum that followed Bann lost possession and Coleraine kicked clear to halfway.
But yet again Bann encamped near the visitors’ line and Mathers crossed to take his side ahead for the first time in the second half. Coleraine mounted one last assault, but the move broke down with the line beckoning and Bann heard the final whistle with great relief.
Coach Charlie Farrell was delighted with the way the team responded after going 16 points behind. “I thought for a young side they showed great composure,” he commented. “They might have panicked after conceding those two converted tries at the start of the second half. But I think that cup win at Limavady has given them a belief in themselves.
“They really rose to the challenge, scored some nice tries and saw off that late surge from Coleraine.
“Harry Patterson had a great game at scrum-half and Robbie (Mathers) showed his determination to hang onto that No 8 shirt. But my man-of-the-match has to be Robin Hewitt. He was unfortunate to be the fall-guy, taking the yellow card after a series of earlier infringements by his team-mates. But he worked tirelessly for the 70 minutes he was on the pitch, both at set piece and in the loose.”
Bann team:- Gareth Hutton, James Buller, Troy Pinion, Macauley Little, Jack Myles, Harry Bird, Harry Patterson, Adam Hanna, Tim Savage, Christian Trimble, Robin Hewitt, Alex Megaw, Mark Magowan, John Wilson, Robbie Mathers. Replacements:- Luke Forsyth, Cameron Martin.