Banbridge claimed their fourth successive win in Ulster Bank League Division 2A on Saturday, defeating Seapoint 34-12 at Rifle Park to continue their rise up the table.
Seapoint, who remain third-from-bottom, scored a try in each half through Marty Kerr and Eoin Cremin, but Banbridge proved too strong with a five-try showing.
In-form Bann will be quietly confident of keeping their winning run going in the coming weeks against Rainey Old Boys and Bective Rangers, two teams currently lying in the bottom four.
Their head coach Daniel Soper told the Banbridge Leader: “We have been in this position before with a lot of games left against the teams below us and we think we can win them but then slip up.
“Hopefully this time we can get ourselves focused and get the results to keep the interest going. If we went into that last game (against Old Wesley) with something on the line, it would be a dream. We’ll concentrate on each game as it comes and the league table takes care of itself.”
Front runners Old Wesley and Blackrock College were also in bonus point-winning form on the road, with ‘Rock gaining a 47-13 runaway victory over Bective at Donnybrook and NUIM Barnhall were beaten 40-10 by leaders Old Wesley at Parsonstown.
Old Wesley took a step closer to an unbeaten 15-match season when they ran in six tries against Barnhall in Leixlip. However, they got off to a sloppy start when Simon Gillespie kicked a penalty and converted Rob Mullen’s try to give the hosts an early 10-0 advantage.
It took a fantastic solo try from full-back Rory Stynes to get the Dubliners off the mark, and he added a second thanks to a pinpoint pass from scrum half Ian Cassidy who also added both conversions.
Old Wesley remained 14-10 in front for half-time, by which stage Barnhall winger Sean Lacey and Wesley lock Michael Dunleavy had both been sin-binned – the latter seeing yellow for a lineout infringement.
Old Wesley captain Alan Large, with the wind behind him in the second half, pinned Barnhall back with some intelligent kicks out of hand. The returning Dunleavy rumbled over for a try before Stynes completed his brace in the 56th minute. He profited from a Darren Horan turnover on the Old Wesley 22 to sprint, jink and dark clear of the Barnhall defence for another superb score.
Cassidy’s conversion put the visitors 28-10 clear and the fast-breaking Richie Jermyn capitalised on a Barnhall handling error near their line to score Old Wesley’s fifth try. The try-scoring was completed by number 8 Mark Rowley, who finished off following a five-metre lineout and a number of powerful carries.
That makes it 12 wins on the trot for Old Wesley who are now within touching distance of the league title and promotion. Their next outing, on Saturday, March 7, is a trip to Naas, the team currently coached by former Old Wesley boss Dan van Zyl.
South African van Zyl’s charges have fallen to tenth place overall after losing a tight game 16-15 to City of Derry at Forenaughts. An injury-time try from David Graham, coupled with Josh Lewis’ 57th-minute effort, saw Derry complete a terrific comeback from 15-3 down.
Cashel condemned bottom side Dungannon to their ninth defeat of the campaign, coming away from Stevenson Park with a 22-0 triumph. Since losing to Old Wesley in early December, the Tipperary men have embarked on a four-match winning run.
Cashel’s county rivals Nenagh Ormond were denied by a late try as Queen’s University fought back to claim a share of the spoils in a 15-all draw at New Ormond Park. Nenagh’s two tries were scored by Willie Coffey and Lemeki Vaipulu.
Meanwhile, Skerries and UCC both enjoyed valuable away victories, the Dubliners bagging a bonus point as they beat Rainey Old Boys 24-18 in Magherafelt.
Centre Mikey Sherlock showed good footwork to run in the first Skerries try and some patient build-up play was rewarded for the second, as full-back David Quirke glided in off Conal Keane’s shoulder to continue his good scoring form.
Although Rainey stayed in the hunt and did well to notch their own losing bonus point via a last-minute penalty, Skerries made certain of their five-point return thanks to tries from hooker Chris Tonge, following a lineout drive, and winger Derek Keane in the corner.
At Liam Fitzgerald Park, UCC picked up just their fourth win of the season – and second in four games – as they got the better of Thomond on a 27-8 scoreline. Out-half Kevin Kidney impressed for the students who bagged a bonus point against the out-of-sorts hosts.
ROUND 11 RESULTS:
Banbridge 34 Seapoint 12, Rifle Park
Bective Rangers 13 Blackrock College 47, Donnybrook
Dungannon 0 Cashel 22, Stevenson Park
Naas 15 City of Derry 16, Forenaughts
Nenagh Ormond 15 Queen’s University 15, New Ormond Park
NUIM Barnhall 10 Old Wesley 40, Parsonstown
Rainey Old Boys 18 Skerries 24, Hatrick Park
Thomond 8 UCC 27, Liam Fitzgerald Park
– With thanks to photographers John Dickson, Christine Taylor and Skerries RFC