DIVISION 1B/2 PLAY-OFF -
BRUFF 25 BECTIVE RANGERS 12, Kilballyowen Park
Scorers: Bruff: Tries: Eoin Cahill, John Malone, John Shine; Cons: Tony Cahill 2; Pens: Tony Cahill 2
Bective Rangers: Pens: Gearoid O'Grady 4
Bruff retained their Division 1B status to complete a memorable season in which they won the Munster Senior Cup and the Bateman All-Ireland Cup.
Player-coach and centre Eoin Cahill notched Bruff's opening try which his brother Tony Cahill, who lined out at out-half, converted before Bective's Gearoid O'Grady kicked the first of his four penalties.
Winger John Malone had a second try for Bruff who led 15-12 at the interval with Tony Cahill adding a penalty.
Into the second half, another Cahill penalty was followed by a try from energetic flanker John Shine which Cahill again converted.
It was a brave effort from Kevin Lewis' Bective side who battled right to the end, and they will certainly be back challenging for promotion from Division 2A next season.
DIVISION 2/3 PLAY-OFF -
OLD CRESCENT 16 BANBRIDGE 15, Rosbrien
Scorers: Old Crescent: Try: Lemeki Vaipulu; Con: Fergal Lawlor; Pens: Fergal Lawlor 2; Drop: Anthony Barry
Banbridge: Tries: Robin Thompson, Jonny Murphy; Con: Robin Thompson; Pen: Robin Thompson
There was relief all round for the Old Crescent players, management, club officials and supporters after they preserved their status in the Ulster Bank League with a gritty comeback against Banbridge.
Centre Anthony Barry was Crescent's hero as his 78th-minute drop goal sparked great celebrations amongst the Rosbrien faithful.
The hosts' only try was scored by powerful number 8 Lemeki Vaipulu midway through the second half, while Banbridge, who led 15-3 at one stage, had a man-of-the-match performance from Robin Thompson.
Bann's out-half scored a try, a conversion and a penalty, with hooker Jonny Murphy also crossing the Crescent whitewash in the first half.
Daniel Soper's men seized the initiative to move 15-3 ahead inside the opening 33 minutes. Thompson kicked them ahead in the 11th minute, following a scrum penalty.
Thompson dummied his way over for an unconverted try having linked well with lock Simon McKinstry. Crescent out-half Fergal Lawlor reduced the deficit to 8-3 with a penalty from 28 metres out.
The Banbridge backs threatened from quick lineout ball, moving back to within sight of the try-line and after a couple of recycles from a scrum, hooker Murphy burrowed over for a seven-pointer.
Lawlor landed a late penalty to make it 15-6 at the break and Crescent, driven on by Mick Lynch's half-time words, really needed to dig deep.
For the opening 16 minutes of the second half they struggled to put Bann under pressure. The visitors pinned them back in their 22 for the most part and Crescent had a near miss when Andrew Morrison just failed to control a bobbling ball.
Crescent then got used their maul to good effective and the forwards, with captain Eugene McGovern willing his men on. Lewis Patterson knocked a penalty to touch, lock Pierse Breen secured lineout possession and Vaipulu stretched over out of a tackle for a galvanising try.
From a difficult angle, Lawlor threaded the conversion through the posts and the game was right back in the melting point at 15-13.
McGovern and company made the hard yards to give scrum half Billy Leahy the chance to pass for Barry to knock over the match-winning drop goal. He did so with aplomb while Crescent had a penalty advantage.
Bann were unable to regain any momentum in the closing minutes - there were five minutes of injury-time played - and Crescent's greater experience counted in the end.
Related Links -