1st XV V Banbridge RFC – AIL by D. O’Brien 08/12/2018
St Mary’s College RFC V Banbridge RFC
UB AIL Division 1B
Saturday 8th December 2018
For the home side, there was a first half of mesmerising, majestic,mellifluous magic and a second half of resilient resolute resistance that ended with St Marys going to the top of the table, and only one more game of the first half of the league to go. This was the first time ever we played Banbridge, our very welcome guests today. They have been competing at the top end of the table and today showed why. Although in the first half Banbridge seemed to find the pace of the game difficult, dropping balls and failing to use the gale force wind to any effect. They got into top gear and in the second half with a preponderance of possession, held on to limpet like. With an almost perfect lineout and impressive rucking, they caused the home side to value having a reasonably comfortable cushion, after a first half.
That is not to say Marys were not deserving of the impressive five points win. In fact the team came of age today, as they had to show that they were a top team and worthy challengers; difficult for a neophytic team. Each game will now become more challenging, and how we take up that challenge will determine our destiny. The signs are highly propitious. Today, Marys’ neophytes were pyrotechnic and showed admirable patience and maturity to gain a wonderful bonus point try in the 87thminute. The set pieces have improved impressively this season, with an almost irresistible scrum, progressively improved lineouts, malicious mauls and fine kicking. The defence has improved beyond the highest hopes and innate understanding is apparent. The way the game went today demonstrated all these factors, as the firsthalf was a breathless kaleidoscope of brilliant attacking rugby and the second mainly an heroic array of organised defence and counterattack.
Having reliable, talented and adventurous halves is a real asset for an ambitious team. It may not have been emphasised enough how much Conor and Paddy contribute to the game plan. Both their kicking, passing and game control are now a vital part of the success and both were excellent today with the bonus of Conor again kicking flawlessly. In the past, midfield play has been under scrutiny, especially in defence, well, this season it could not be extolled more. Today the midfield was in lock down in defence and the conduit for much of the creative and profitable plays. Both the skipper, Modser, and his acolyte at 13, Myles Carey, moulded into a deadly unit that flittered the Banbridge defence and annihilated their attack. They have been in superb form. Myles has been playing through a niggling injury, yet never shirks. He was brilliantly creative and destructive today and was, in a team of marvels, most marvellous. He was the scorer of two delicious tries. He was awarded the SoftCo Mom award today.
The remainder of the backline were in top gear too, and young impressive Hugo Conway on the wing scored a fine try.
Of course without the pack there would be nothing, and this unit impresses more each week. Last week their “avoirdupois” deficit was commented on and how they “make light of it”, well again, although well outweighed,they never took a step back and held sway in what was foretold to be the battleof the top scrums, they came out on top. The front row is granite, the second row seems almost mystical as the two Liams soar, they scrummage like bulldozers and tackle like trawlers. Sadly, Liam Curran having scored a top class try was taken off with an injured knee. We hope he will not be out too long. The backrow is a star unit led by the warrior,Nick, and once again they played a leading role in a marvellous victory.
To start well is always a benefit, and we started brightly and confidently, running ball and holding possession well. After only seven minutes, a penalty on the Banbridge ten metre line, was taken quickly by Paddy and he made good ground and then, Hugo Conway over from his wing, put zip pace on it, as he was tackled near the line he passed to fast backing up LiamCurran and he powered over, in the cabbage patch corner. Deano, from the touch line and into a gale converted, as he did each score, 7-0. Then on 14minutes, after a series of sharp attacks, a quick sally forth by Hugo, David and Modser was temporally halted outside the visitors’ 22, Myles picked up and slalomed through the crowded defence and broke for the line, he fairly flew to go in under theposts. 14-0. When it was 42 minutes gone, and after aseries of attacks, and playing knock on advantage, Myles made a half break, then passed to Hugo Conway and he showed his ability as in the tightest of spaces, he danced through, redirected and put on the turbo, he swayed past the last defender and rounded under the posts. 21-0. Half Time.
The second half took a different appearance as from the kick off Banbridge upped their concentration and abilities. They continually came in waves of attacks that called for a response from the home side. Respond they did, with an impenetrable human wall, not a chink. On aime the raiders, on came the defenders as they flung themselves with abandon, head first, arms first, body first, finger tips, it made no difference. It took until the hour, before there was a breach. A fine try by Banbridge made it 21-7.
It was then, to and fro up and down, both teams gnawing away, burning for more, with different goals. We found a renewed surge as time passed, desperate for a bonus point and it was in the seventh minute of injury time when Marys laid siege to Banbridge line. David Aspil, who once again was magnificent, was nearly over, Modser was almost there, Tommer was almost there,then Mighty Michael Mack ploughed through, just short then, switch, out it went, Hugo ran it across looking for a chink, he got it away to the eager Myles who romped over in glee; up came Myles all joy and smiles.The rest of us smiled too. It was a very hard fought win against a sporting team that will also see more success across the season. It was also a memorable match.
On Saturday next, we have our mettle tested as we face local rivals Old Wesley, in the first of back to back games; a tough one without doubt and our young tyros need us to help, so we will!
Team (Rolling Replacements X12)
15 D Fanagan, 14 H Conway, 13 Myles Carey, 12 M O’Driscoll (Capt), 11 C Kennedy, 10 C Dean, 9 P O’Driscoll, 8 N McCarthy, 7 R Watters, 6 D Aspil, 5 L Curran, 4 L Corcoran, 3 M McCormack, 2 S O’Brien, 1 T O’Reilly, R Halpin, P Dundon, H Diepman, D Mc Donnell, R Shields.