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Bangor survive a scare to protect their title advantage

By Staff Reporter

Bangor II preserved their lead at the top of Junior II but it was only in the final quarter that they showed their superiority over Rainey III in a 25-12 triumph at Upritchard Park.

Bangor coach Ryan Meeke said: "I have never seen the team play so badly this season. They were asleep for the first hour and thankfully they came good in the end.

"We have had some tremendous results but this was a big disappointment. Maybe it was due to the fact that we had no games for three weeks but credit to Rainey, who had improved immensely since we put more than 60 points on them earlier in the season.

"By half time we were 12-5 down so we had a real stern talk and eventually started to play better rugby."

The visiting forwards had the upper hand early on and, after a penalty into the corner, Ryan McGuckin broke to set up a ruck five metres out for Andrew Davis to wriggle over.

After 20 minutes, John Beattie put in an inch-perfect kick from halfway for Mark Donnelly to chase and the bounce was in his favour but following a last-gasp tackle by a defender, the referee adjudged there was a knock on.

Five minutes later, Bangor took play to their opponents' territory and winger Chris Burns touched down despite a despairing tackle from Colin Patterson.

Then, a home clearance was gathered by Haydn Murray who beat a couple of defenders before kicking for the line. Mark Montgomery dribbled forward and scored for captain Declan McKenna to add the conversion.

Rainey lost Jarryd Monaghan and Connor O'Kane through injury and after the restart tempers became frayed as Rainey, with Conor Magee, McKenna and Patterson much in evidence, still held the balance.

The disarray appeared to unsettle them for a time and Bangor fought back. Hard running by the pack saw John Ferguson touch down to narrow the gap before the visitors came close when Beattie's kick forward was gathered by Montgomery, who was bundled into touch just short.

Rainey captain McKenna commented: "It was all Bangor and in a three-minute spell our defence crumbled and they took advantage."

Burns ran in his second try and from the drop out the same thing happened again when Adam McCusker scored and Bangor were 20-12 ahead. Rainey didn't realise what had hit them as Matt Bailey then crossed for the final score.

"The game petered out over the final five minutes," added McKenna.

"Our man of the match was John Beattie, who was instrumental in all facets of our attacking game. Although a centre by trade he has slotted in well in the absence of the injured Kenny Irvine."

Bangor's Meeke was relieved to win. He said: "We now have a two-point lead over Malone III who have two games in hand, so victory in our meeting with them in a fortnight is vital.

"In the meantime, a lot of hard work is needed."

Belfast Telegraph

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