Bangor floor CIYMS as last-gasp score proves crucial
Bangor 22 - CIYMS 21
A last-gasp try from Jason Morgan saw Bangor steal a win over CIYMS at Belmont on Saturday, despite trailing 13-0 at one point during the contest. The character cultivated at the north Down club has been evident in recent weeks - they also beat Enniscorthy in the dying moments a fortnight ago, and they have now hauled themselves back into Kukri Qualifying One's top four.
Winners of three in a row, the victors can now look forward to the weekend's All-Ireland Junior Cup semi-final with Ulster rivals Clogher Valley but C.I find themselves enduring a testing period.
After a promising start that saw them win three of their first four, they have lost four consecutive league games including a defeat to previously winless Donaghadee.
They will also be in All-Ireland Junior Cup action this Saturday, hosting highly rated Dundalk, and then face a trip to a Dromore side who are led by former coach Graham Cloke and have already beaten both Portadown and Bangor.
The game did in fact begin brightly for the hosts and they took the lead through a Sam Baker penalty with less than two minutes on the clock.
And it became a perfect start just moments later when, after a high ball sparked confusion in the Bangor backline, Baker kept his composure to gather and carry over before converting his own try.
Mark Widdowson had the opportunity to reduce the arrears off the tee but the winger was unusually wayward.
The Bangor front row was without props Phil Whyte and James Leery and it was a scrum penalty, once again courtesy of Baker's boot, that moved C.I into a 13-point advantage after just as many minutes.
As the game entered its second quarter, Bangor displayed a marked improvement and a clever offload released Dessie Fusco in midfield.
The outside centre was halted but, when C.I were pinged at the breakdown, the ball was sent to the corner. From the resulting lineout, Andrew Jackson's throw was right on target and number 8 Curtis Stewart was able to barge his way over the line for his side's first points of the day.
The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but Bangor would score again soon after a move along the backline sent Morgan over.
This time the conversion did bisect the posts and, while the score now read 13-12 in favour of C.I, it was Bangor who possessed the momentum.
A break through midfield by hooker Jackson advanced the ball, before Stewart took up the cause. When he offloaded to Ricky Armstrong, the scrum-half dummied the pass and was hit late by Jordan Boyd.
Play progressed but when the move came to nothing it was brought back for the penalty and a yellow card for the C.I winger.
Widdowson was injured in the exchange so responsibility fell to Morgan, but he could not add the three points.
However, just before half time the player-coach was handed another chance to give his side a first lead of the day thanks to a penalty awarded at the scrum and he duly knocked the ball over.
The lead would prove short-lived though, as David Charles' kick when under pressure was charged down by Neil Wallace and the winger was able to score.
They extended their lead 10 minutes after the restart through another Baker penalty and, when Bangor's indiscipline saw Ryan Latimer yellow carded on the hour mark, it seemed that another score would seal the game.
As darkness descended, with C.I content to keep the ball close to the edges of the ruck, Bangor's pillar defence had to remain firm and, despite some prominent carries from substitute Ricky Greenwood, they were not breached again.
That set up a dramatic finale when captain Jamie Clegg's perfectly timed offload found Morgan on the burst and a clever dummy had him in underneath the posts.
The simple conversion completed the comeback and, despite C.I attempting one last drive, Bangor held on for another notable win.