RUGBY: Banbridge impressive against City of Derry

Banbridge and City of Derry battle for possession at Rifle Park on Saturday. ( Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye)
Banbridge and City of Derry battle for possession at Rifle Park on Saturday. ( Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye)
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Banbridge 50, City of Derry 5

Banbridge warmed up for next week’s All Ireland League kick-off in some style against a City of Derry side that look to have work to do ahead of their own AIL opener against Skerries at Judges Road next week.

Daniel Soper’s side won without ever having to get out of third gear with young winger Adam Ervine the star of the show with three tries and a performance full of pace and invention. Ervine’s display will give his coach food for thought ahead of next week’s Division 2A visit of Sunday’s Well and this Rifle Park squad looks well set for a promotion push. However, Soper’s enthusiasm at this result will be tempered by the fact Derry never really got going and afforded their hosts too many chances with some basic errors.

The Judges Road coaching team has used the three Ulster League and Cup games as a mini pre-season after a turbulent close season which cost them some of their more established players and left Richard McCarter and Co. playing catch-up in terms of preparation. Make no mistake about it, the Derry management team will gladly accept the three defeats they have suffered to date if it means they start Division 2B with victory next week.

Derry actually started well, playing most of the game in the home half for the opening 20 minutes but without ever really threatening. Banbridge on the other hand looked like scoring every time they attacked and it took only seven minutes for Soper’s side to punch a hole in the visitors’ defence.

Derry’s were penalised twice in succession, Banbridge kicking to touch on the second and working a decent line-out move that saw play switched left with No. 8 Stephen Irvine breaking two would-be tackles and crashing over. The impressive Adam Doherty converted for a 7-0 lead.

Irvine was at the centre of Banbridge’s second try, making good ground and forcing another penalty. Again the home side kicked to touch and, from the line-out, play was switched left and Ervine squeezed into at the corner for a 12-0 lead.

That lead was 17 points on 26 minutes when hooker Peter Cromie worked a clever line-out throw to the front of the line, got it back immediately and ran in unopposed with Derry caught cold.

Ervine’s second try of the day rounded off a one-sided first half with the home side 24 points to the good and already the game looked over as a contest.

Derry showed a marked improvement after the break but that was due in part to Banbridge shuffling their pack and easing off slightly

Further tries from Ervine - whose eventful day also included a yellow card, Andrew Morrison, Robin Sinton and a second from Peter Cromie wrapped up a routine victory.

Derry sole soiree onto the scoreboard came after a sustained period of pressure ended with Craig Huey scoring a well worked try prior to the home side’s final two tries but Derry had been outclassed by a team that looks well set for an assault on promotion

Banbridge: Michael Cromie, Peter Cromie, Stuart Cromie, Christopher Allen, Mike Bentley; Robin Sinton, Dale Carson, Stephen Irvine, Josh Cromie, Macauley Little, Adam Ervine, Jonathan Little, Andrew Morrison, John Porter, Adam Doherty. (Replacements) Lee Allen, James McCrum, Kallan Martin, Josh Agnew, Stephen Cowan.

City of Derry: Owen Derry, Cathal Cregan, Sam Duffy, Adam Bratton, Chris Cooper, Ritchie Baird, John Burns,Craig Huey, David Devine, Neil Burns, Tiernan Thornton, Stuart Simpson, Davy Graham, Ian Bratton, Jack Beattie. (Replacements) Stephen Duffy, James Fawcett, Matthew Kilgore, Kevin McLaughlin, Phil Duffy.