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Banbridge's great start is a real bonus in revamped set-up

by Ronnie Ingram

Promoted Banbridge are perfectly capable of pulling off a few surprises in the new-look SONI Ulster Rugby Premiership as highlighted by their 39-17 bonus point victory over Armagh at the Palace Grounds last night.

Ian Porter, on his return from Connacht, made a big difference, with some superb play at scrum-half, along with accurate kicking.

Armagh looked the better team in the first quarter, and Banbridge were rather flattered by their 15-14 lead at the break.

Tom McNeice and James Morton scored early tries for Armagh, with Ryan Purvis converting both, but once the visitors settled they started to dominate.

Stephen Irvine crossed for their first try of the game before John Porter ran round under the posts for brother Ian to add the extras.

A brilliant Porter penalty from halfway then gave Bann the one point advantage at the interval.

It was all Bann after the restart and an excellent move allowed John Porter in for his second score, before full-back Adam Doherty also crossed soon after.

Josh Cromie scored the fifth right at the end with Porter drop-kicking the final conversion to round off his excellent night with the boot.

Meanwhile, Ballymena Academy provide six of the Ulster Schools' squad that face Munster in the first of the Inter-Provincials at Pirrie Park this afternoon (4pm).

Three players from last season are back in action - No. 8 Azur Allison, centre Angus Kernahon and hooker Clayton Milligan.

Ulster Schools: M Thompson (B'mena Acad), B Webb (CC), J Hunter (Wallace H), A Kernohan (B'mena Acad), G Pringles (Friends), B Houston (B'mena Acad), N Armstrong (RBAI), J McKee (CC), C Milligan (Down H), C Smyth (Sperrin), M Mooney (Coleraine G), O McKernan (St Clare's, Cavan), J Macartney (CC), M Crowther (CC), A Allison (B'mena Acad) (capt). Replacements - T Savoury (B'mena Acad), B Savage (B'mena Acad), S Agnew (B'mena Acad), M Bailie (Coleraine G), J Rutledge (Portora R), T Gilpin (RBAI), E Field (RBAI), L Finlay (Down H), J Storey (Sullivan), J Manderson (Wallace), J Lewis (B'clare H).

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