BANN Seconds travelled to Gibson Park to play Malone Seconds in the Conference League wishing to keep their recent good form going.
Although they extended their unbeaten run, it was courtesy of a disappointing 10-10 draw.
They started in confident fashion into the wind, and inside the first eight minutes, the backs carved the home team open with a swift break from Geoff Thompson releasing Jordan Weir, but his run to the line was halted when the referee adjudged from afar that it was a forward pass. Two minutes later Bann scored their first try. Clark McAllister had sent a huge kick into touch 10 metres out, and then the resulting lineout was stolen from Malone by James Mathers’ spoiling, and Andy Davidson’s tidying. The controlled drive allowed Lee Allen to get the touchdown with McAllister just failing to add the difficult conversion.
Malone struck back within three minutes when Bann failed to halt a Malone drive that finished with them going over to even the scores at 5-5.
Although the game was scrappy up to this point, it was the Bann backline that always looked capable of opening the Malone defence and indeed another `forward pass` was given when the try-line beckoned once again.
A 10 minute stoppage due to an injury to a Malone flanker resulted in the match resuming on the adjacent pitch and with Malone playing the remaining 60 minutes a man down.
This seemed to spur the home side on, and within five minutes their more eager forwards were rewarded with a second try to move them 10-5 ahead. Although Bann immediately showed more urgency from the re-start, energetic runs from Paul Ross and John Porter yielded nothing more than good field position.
Another dubious forward pass decision again seemed to frustrate the Bann backs, although that did not stop McAllister showing up well at full back when he collected a ball deep in his own “22” to go on an evasive run into the Malone half.
The second half was only three minutes old when Bann equalised through simple but effective rugby. The forwards set up clean ball and Gareth Houston released the backs. Text book passing, and at speed, saw the ball move through the hands of John Ferris, Thompson and James Andrews to Porter. Weir had come off his own line in support to keep the momentum going, and when the forwards set up quick ball, Houston again found Porter for the wing to out-muscle his opposite number and claim the touch down. The swirling wind again meant McAllister’s effort went just wide.
With the game at 10-10, being a man to the good and also having wind advantage, Bann were looking forward to claim the points, but the remainder of the game petered out into a territorial draw.
Overall it was the Bann backs that looked the most threatening when on attack, but unfortunately this was nearly always attempted from inside their own half which left them too much to do. Territory was relinquished far too often and cheaply by the whole team with some slack tackling allowing Malone to relieve pressure time and again. The draw was probably fair to both teams - Bann looking more threatening, and Malone showing a greater eagerness to win the ball.
Although Paul Ross yet again stood out in the forwards, along with the grafting work around the field by Davidson, the Man of the Match award must go to Captain Geoff Thompson, who continually showed great pace in producing incisive runs and also put in some important tackles.