Bann put down a marker against Omagh 2nds

Starting last Saturday’s game knowing they would have to face the same opposition this weekend in their Junior Cup tie, the Bann men knew they had to put down a marker without showing everything.

This was a great opportunity for Bann to see what Omagh’s game plan was and to prepare for the cup clash, all while making sure they won the Conference League game to build momentum.

The game started with the teams testing each other’s defence. Following some good work from the Bann pack, a penalty kicked to touch allowed the forwards to show off their maul, working it close to the line before James Buller carried over for the first score of the game with 11 minutes played.

Following a further 10 minutes of Bann showing good intent in attack, with Alex Megaw, Martin Vorster and Luke Forsyth getting through a lot of work, another penalty win saw the ball kicked to the corner for the forwards to drive over, Robbie Mathers diving over to score with Harry Bird adding the conversion.

Omagh were to score next, following a lapse of concentration at the lineout, as their forwards scored a pick and drive try against a scrambling defence.

Captain Macauley Little drove the Bann men on with a focus on putting attacking phases together. Strong carrying and off-loading saw the backs bring Bann into Omagh’s “22” before the hard-working Vorster crashed over, Bird again converting. Omagh kicked a penalty for three points to keep them within touching distance at half time.

The second half started at a ferocious pace as the Bann men lifted the tempo. Three minutes into the second half, following a well-earned penalty courtesy of Troy Pinion, the feared Bann maul went to work again, Robbie Mathers finishing this one to double his tally for the day.

Omagh responded immediately with a try of their own from Bann’s exit, a well-worked counter-attack on the openside with a well-timed pass putting their winger in space to finish off from 60 metres out.

With the game well and truly in the balance, the attacking shape of Banbridge paid dividends. Strong and direct running from the backs allowed the forwards to attack with pace, and good footwork from Vorster, backed up by a deft offload, put Mathers in for his third try of the day.

On the hour mark Lewis Nelmes added Bann’s sixth try with a signature dart around the edge of a ruck just outside Omagh’s “22”, beating four defenders to score under the posts, gifting Bird his fourth conversion. Omagh had the final say, but their unconverted try still left them well adrift of a Bann side which will approach Saturday’s cup game in confident mood.

A delighted head coach Charlie Farrell praised his players.

“All 17 players put their hand up for man of the match today,” he said after the game.

“Without a doubt that was the best attacking performance we’ve had this season. Our lineout continues to function well, our scrum is improving week on week with Christian Trimble really coming to the fore at tighthead. And it was great to see Reuben McCreery and Phil Jackson returning from injury to bolster our squad.

“Looking forward to next week this gives us an insight to what Omagh will bring, but we are well aware it’s a cup day so we will have to perform to our best again to get the result we want.”