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Banbridge 21 – Naas 42 2019-03-23 17:30:00

A barstorming finish by Naas which saw them score three tries banished all fears of relegation and propelled them right into the promotion mix when defeating Banbridge at Rifle Park last Saturday afternoon. Such is the closeness of Division 1B that Naas travelled north knowing that all outcomes were still possible and that victory was absolutely essential here. They responded in a positive manner with their power and pace battering the northerners into submission by the end.

Naas started in determined fashon. Straight from the kick-off they went through the phases and quickly took play up to the Banbridge 22. With the home side defending desperately they conceded a penalty awarded for a high tackle and Peter Osborne made no mistake to put Naas ahead. Although the same player missed a chance to extend the lead after 17 minutes, he was on target after Banbridge conceded a scrum penalty to leave Naas ahead by 6-0 at the end of the first quarter.

However it was not all one way traffic as a superb break by Stephen Irvine on 24 minutes gave Banbridge a great attacking position. Naas were forced to defend non stop for the next five minutes and showed unreal bravery and courage to hold the home side out. Players dived into tackles with reckless abandon and they were got their reward when the visitors were awarded a scrum penalty on the half hour mark and were able to clear their lines.

They took full advantage of this after 33 minutes. Fionn Carr started the move when beating two defenders to carry the ball up to the Banbridge 22. When he was stopped the ball was moved quickly out to the right to Fionn Higgins who sprinted clear to score in the corner. Although the conversion was missed Naas now led by 11 points, a lead they took into the half-time break.

Ian Porter missed with a penalty opportunity to reduce the margin after 42 minutes, and perhaps this was still in the Banbridge minds as they turned down another opportunity to go for the posts on 50 minutes, electing to kick to touch. It turned out to be an inspired move as Stephen Irvine caught the line-out and drove at the Naas defence, this was followed by his pack companions carrying on the move and led to Peter Cromie crashing over for a try. Porter kicked the conversion and Banbridge were right back in the game.

However within five minutes Naas were back 11 points in front. Banbridge attempted to move a ball out wide forty yards from the Naas line but Fionn Higgins was on hand to make an interception and there was no way the winger was going to be caught as he sprinted clear to score. Osborne added the conversion and Naas were 18-7 in front.

On 64 minutes Ryan Casey harshly received a yellow card from referee Shane Kierans for a high tackle. In a carbon copy of their first try Banbridge kicked to the corner, Irvine caught at the back of the line-out and there was to be no stopping the big No.8 as he powered over for a try. Porter converted to reduce the lead to 18-14. However the numerical player advantage that Banbridge enjoyed was finished on 70 minutes when Ben Carson received a yellow card for a high tackle on Paulie Tolofua, and Peter Osborne successfully punished the indiscretion.

Naas were to run riot in the last five minutes. The try they scored on 75 minutes was a joy to watch. Some fine handling by the backs saw Johne Murphy receive the ball in midfield, he threw a long pass out to the Fionn Higgins who beat his marker and then flicked a lovely pass back into Peter Osborne who raced over to score. The latter added the conversion and the game was now over as a contest.

With Banbridge a beaten side the only question that remained to be answered was would Naas be able to gain a fourth try and a valuable try scoring bonus point. Within two minutes that was answered positively when Andy Ellis left two defenders in his wake and sprinted away to score, and there was still time for Fionn Higgins to set up Peter Hastie for yet another try, with Osborne converting both.

Although Stuart Cromie scored a consolation try for the home side in injury time nothing was going to take the gloss off a superb Naas performance and victory that was gained on a 42-21 scoreline. This win leaves Naas in fourth place in the table and right in the promotion calucations. Next up for them is another away fixture in the north on April 6th, against already relegated Ballymena and all support will be greately appreciated.

Banbridge: Adam Ervine, Conor Field, Andrew Morrison, Jonathan Little, John Porter, Josh Cromie, Ian Porter, Michael Cromie, Peter Cromie, Stuart Cromie, Christopher Allen, Robin Sinton, Dale Carson, Ethan Harbinson, Stephen Irvine. Replacements: Jonny Weir, Ross Haughey, Matthew Laird, Aaron Kennedy, Ben Carson.

Naas: Fionn Carr, Fionn Higgins, Andrew Ellis, Johne Murphy, Niall Delahunt, Peter Hastie, Peter Osborne, Conor Doyle, Graham Reynolds, Adam Coyle, Paul Monahan, David Benn, Ryan Casey, Will O’Brien, Paulie Tolofua. Replacements: Cathal Duff, Peter King, Cillian Dempsey, Richard Fahy, Ruadhan McDonnell.


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