Lisburn Thirds come up short against Bann Sixths

LISBURN THIRDS 12 BANN SIXTHS 17 - Bann Sixths travelled north up the A1 for the game against Lisburn 3rd XV, the last league fixture of the Provincial South league before it is restructured post-Christmas.

The 6th XV squad was the fifth adult team Bann fielded last weekend. This was not matched by any other club across the domestic rugby leagues in Ulster and only made possible by the commitment shown by the players and coaching teams, backed up by the tireless work of the management teams throughout the week.

It was a sunny cold afternoon the players were set; referee Mark Taylor blew the whistle and Lisburn kicked off towards the clubhouse.

Flanker Barney McKevitt gathered the ball and set off on a blistering run to the Lisburn “22”, where several phases of play continued before Lisburn cleared their lines.

Play continued to the halfway line where scrum-half Colly Hamilton recovered the ball from the back of the ruck and placed a box kick into space.

Centre Samuel McCracken’s energetic chase paid dividends as he recovered the ball and scored his side’s opening try just to the right of the posts, with Francois Viljoen adding the conversion.

Lisburn gained some ground from the re-start and pressured Bann’s line for several phases. Sterling defence saw them held out initially, however after a five-metre lineout Lisburn crossed the Bann line in the right hand corner to reduce the deficit to 5-7.

With 10 minutes of the half remaining Bann pinned Lisburn in their “22” and after several phases the ball was dug out from the ruck to Hugo Bertholon, playing in the less familiar flanker position. He spotted a gap and running a direct line to the left of the ruck crossed for Bann’s second try, giving his side a 5-12 interval lead.

For the first 20 minutes of the second half Bann were under the cosh. However Hamilton was able to clear the Bann half with a 50:22 kick, this presented Bann with a fantastic opportunity in the Lisburn “22” as the new Law that came into place gave Bann the lineout. However they were unable to take advantage with the throw deemed to be crooked, allowing Lisburn to kick clear to halfway.

Intense pressure forced Lisburn to knock on and from the scrum Hamilton darted down the left, linking with Jamie Ewing to set the winger off on a 40 metre run past two defenders on his way to the try line and a 5-17 lead.

Lisburn pinned Bann in their “22” for a prolonged period. Bann’s defence was immense however Lisburn stepped up their intensity and crossed the Bann line. With a successful kick the score was 17-12 in Banns favour with minutes left to play.

When the re-start didn’t travel the necessary 10 metres, Lisburn had a scrum on halfway. But when they infringed, Hamilton tapped the penalty to run within five metres of the home line.

And although the ball was turned over the clearance kick failed to reach touch, Viljoen ran it back and steamed through the Lisburn ranks only to be stopped short. But that was the final act, leaving Bann emerging with the four points that earned them a fifth place in the League.

Bann team manager Mark Fisher was full of praise for his squad’s performance.

“We had many players playing out of position today,” he admitted. “But despite that I thought the team gelled well.

“The players really showed their commitment during those prolonged spells of Lisburn pressure. We made them work hard for every point and proved the difference in the end.”

The 6ths squad will next take to the field again on the 11th December in this year’s McCambley Cup. The draw takes place this week and it will be posted on the club’s Facebook page and website www.banbridgerfc.com.