Second's impressive form carries through against Derry

Bann Seconds 29

Monday, 30th August 2010, 3:02 pm
Updated Monday, 30th August 2010, 5:07 pm

City of Derry Seconds 20

THE first match of the new season gave Bann Seconds a chance to show if the impressive form from last year could be maintained, and this early kick off against Derry Seconds provided the players with the opportunity to push for the positions of their counterparts on the Firsts.

The final scoreline reflected many positive aspects, with all players showing an intense eagerness to succeed.

Derry started very brightly from the kick off as they sought to move forward at speed, but this was matched by a well controlled and aggressive defence.

Bann’s response to this was to immediately forge back at Derry with the same urgency. This brought them deep inside the visitors “22” and, on the award of a 5 metre scrum, they showed great control in walking over the line for No 8 Alan Conn to resume where he left off last year, touching down for the opening score. An impressive conversion from wide by Philip Morrison gave Bann a 7-0 lead.

Derry’s response was immediate in forcing a penalty as they maintained their lively start. With the score now reduced to 7-3, both sides were now vying to stamp their authority.

Unfortunately this spell of hard hitting rugby resulted in Bann reduced to 14 players when lock Michael Johnston was harshly adjudged to have spear tackled his opponent.

Although down a player, Bann played some very controlled rugby, and were still able to advance towards the Derry line, pushing the full strength Derry pack in the scrums. Derry were still trying to punch holes in the Bann defence, which was standing firm.

A further twist to the game came 10 minutes after Johnston’s return from the sin bin, when the impressive Jordan Weir was forced to retire with a nasty head injury received accidentally in contact.

This forced Bann to adjust their tactics, and the patience they showed in this resulted in a well worked try. After the pack had set up clean ball, James Andrews found the initial space with some deft footwork and speed. His centre partner Stephen Cowan was on hand to take the pass and forge towards the line before returning the pass to allow Andrews to get the touchdown. Morrison added the extras for a 14-3 lead.

Just as after the previous score, Derry responded with another successful penalty, given away in the loose by a retreating Bann pack, taking the score to 14-6 as the half time whistle sounded.

The second period started with Derry striving to make their numerical advantage count. However, after some good initial foraging had earned them a penalty attempt, they found themselves 17-6 down when Bann worked the ball well from the resulting “22” drop out and forced a penalty which Morrison converted.

Bann were now confident that they could handle what Derry had to offer, and this allowed them to expand from forward play to craft another fine try. When the pack won turnover ball on the 10 metre line, the ball was spread quickly through the hands of out-half Andrew Kirkwood and Cowan, before feeding full back Clarke on the burst.

He dummied the last man to stroll in for a try under the posts. Morrison again added the conversion for a 24-6 lead.

From the re-start Bann showed their willingness to run the ball, as the sharp Cowan fielded. He made the initial break before feeding Patterson who shrugged off some tackles and carried deep inside the visitors “22”. Hooker Lee Allen was there in support, but he found himself arriving too fast and was unlucky not to keep the ball in hand.

This renewed eagerness eventually yielded the fourth try for Bann when Derry attempted to relieve the pressure on their line. Kirkwood flung himself at the kicker to charge down and flanker Sam Boyd gathered the ball to crash over. This time the conversion was missed by Morrison.

With the score now at 29-6 Bann, disappointingly, seemed to lose their aggression which in turn allowed the Derry pack to stamp their authority with some impressive driving mauls. After a period of sustained pressure on the Bann line, they were able to breach the defence to reduce the score to 29-13.

A second converted try for the visitors brought them within nine points but Bann rallied, regained control of the exchanges and played out the time remaining in the visitors’ “22”. Indeed they were unlucky not to score again when the impressive Andrews was held up short of the line after a surging run.

Overall, this a satisfactory first outing for the Seconds. With more difficult matches approaching, any minor shortcomings taken from this game are well capable of being ironed out. Although this was another typical team win, there were impressive displays from team debutants Kirkwood, Boyd, Clarke and Clark McCallister, along with the returning Michael Johnston.

Banbridge Junior Rugby Club would like to welcome all boys and girls, from the ages of 5 to 12 years, to mini rugby on Saturday 4th September from 9.30am to 11.30am

Why not try mini rugby free for one month, and sign up for the season if you like it?