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Banbridge bury ghost of UCC with win over Naas

 

By Michael Sadlier

After round two's drama, Banbridge were intent on putting things right when they hosted Naas, who arrived at Rifle Park as the league's pacesetters, and Dan Soper's squad duly delivered with a 42-35 bonus point victory.

Having surrendered a 31-10 lead to UCC the previous week in front of the Rifle Park faithful, the game ending all square at 31 a-piece, this was a significant test of Bann's credentials to not only put that experience behind them but also deal with a fancied Naas side.

And unbeaten Bann had to resist a spirited Naas performance before Josh Cromie's try along with a conversion and two penalties from Ian Porter secured the five points which saw the Co Down side stay in third - equal on points with Naas, who have a superior points differential.

Bann's other tries came from Tom Caesar, Jonny Little, Andrew Morrison and Chris Allen with all four - and the try bonus coming in the first half which ended with the home side ahead by 26-14 though Naas managed to come back to trail by a mere 29-28 before Soper's players pulled away to exorcise the previous weekend's UCC experience.

Ballynahinch also had a profitable weekend and came away from Dolphin having won 33-16 to rack up a second successive bonus point victory which kept them in fourth - a point behind Bann.

Richard Reaney's scoring form continued with the winger crossing twice. Hinch's other try scorers were Conor Kelly and David Busby with the latter claiming the try bonus in the second half.

Out-half Johnny McPhillips was also in decent kicking form and contributed 13 points with the boot.

However, Saturday afternoon proved to be a forgettable one for Ballymena with coach Andy Graham's calls for a response to the previous weekend's defeat falling on deaf ears. The Braidmen were 36-6 behind and down and out before Rodger McBurney's last-minute try go them into double figures.

Ballymena trailed 19-6 after the first half and their cause on Bohs' artificial surface wasn't assisted by having Connor Smyth, Bryan Young and Patterson all sin-binned.

The defeat was costly as they slipped to eighth with just one win in three games and a vital looking clash coming next for Graham's men at Eaton Park in an Ulster derby meeting with Bann.

Div 1B: Banbridge 42 Naas 35, Dolphin 16 Hinch 33, Old Wesley 17 Shannon 34, UCC 23 Belvo 24, UL Bohs 36 Ballymena 13.

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