BANBRIDGE U16 13 BALLYNAHINCH U16 14
John Orsi reports.
Manager Roben Anderson took his unbeaten U16 team to Banbridge knowing that this was going to be the toughest test this season so far.
Indeed with damp conditions and soft underfoot, both teams struggled initially to build a constructive run of play with knock on’s and spills a plenty. The home team then started to edge the game after the first ten minutes, but with No 3 Andrew Coard having had his Wheetabix earlier in the day, his accuracy and aggression in the tackle helped thwart the home team from building any consistent play.
As both teams tried to get the ball out to the wings, the game opened up. With good support and only ten yards out, the home team squeezed the ball over the line to put the first score on the board.
With Logan Mallon once again putting his body on the line and Luke Braithwaite running off the ruck to gain valuable yards, the Hinch men found themselves in a great position with a line out close to the Banbridge line. With Kai Sheilds finding his jumper with ease, it was he who ended up with the ball under his arm and with only eight yards out only had one thing in mind.
Leaving several Banbridge players lying in his wake, Sheilds thumped the ball on the ground to give the travelling support a reason to roar. Cameron Patterson duly converted to give Hinch the lead going in to half time, with Brendan McKenna doing great work as full back to clear any danger before half time.
As the second half started it was the home team that struck first after only a couple of minutes. After absorbing a bit of pressure from the Hinch forwards the Banbridge full back cleared his lines with a bullet of a kick over the Hinch team.
With quick ball chasers running up the line the home team managed to scramble the ball over the chalk to up the ante in this battle. Having missed the conversion the score sat at 10-7 as the Hinch men prepared to kick off. Having done so, the visitors started to find spaces in the wings, with Ryan Knox and Liam Coote making a nuisance of themselves turning the home defence inside out.
Just as it seemed the pressure would pay off, a quick line break by the home team left the Hinch defence scrambling. With some handling errors and indiscipline the home team took advantage by slotting the ball between the sticks for the penalty.
It could have been a long way back but this Hinch team knew they still had plenty to get from this game. On came the replacements Josh Graham and Jojo Naga, and with fresh legs the visitors added a new dimension to their game.
With almost his first touch of the ball Jojo dodged and weaved his way from his own 22, as he passed the half way line. Even his support found it hard to keep up but Carter Bell was soon there to prolong the attack. The visitors then moved the ball quickly and with confidence as they stretched the home defence, leaving gaps for the Hinch men to attack. Eventually, the home team abandoned defence of their wings and Hinch No9 Tiernan Keating spotted the gap. He duly slipped the ball to Cameron Patterson who swiftly placed the ball over the line and then popped over the conversation to put the visitors one point ahead.
With the game coming to a close, panic set in with the home team as a loose pass was picked up by Matthew Torney. The No 8 found himself in unfamiliar territory, mainly on the wing and in space. So he did what any forward would do in such circumstances, he pinned his ears back and made a dart for the corner pulling all asunder with him. It took four Banbridge defenders to drag him into touch, but not before the Hinch man made 35 metres.
The home team did nothing from the resulting line out and with Hinch keeping them pinned in their own 22 the ref blew time.
Having navigated a particular difficult challenge, this Hinch U16’s team not only took the points but took great belief in their own ability to dig deep and play good rugby.