29th November 2015.
Munster Junior League Division 1. Clanwilliam 16 Bandon 17.
Bandon travelled to Tipp Town to take on the only side to defeat them in the league in last season’s Division 2 winning season. Playing into the driving wind and rain in the first, the visitors found themselves behind to an early penalty. Richie Walsh was however proving a constant threat around the fringes and indeed would have made great gains off a couple of quick tap penalties only for the referee to call him back. After a sustained period of pressure in the Clanwilliam ’22, another free was awarded and this time Walsh’s quick tap was allowed to stand and he sidestepped his way past two defenders to touch down. His conversion into the wind was superb. Clanwilliam once again used to elements to make their way into the Bandon ’22. There was some excellent turnover work by the Bandon forwards but they were guilty of being too ambitious with this possession. The propensity to go wide too early saw them penalised for holding onto the ball in the ruck and this allowed the home side to reduce the deficit to one point with another penalty. Bandon’s superiority on the ground saw them awarded several penalties and allowed them to work their way into the Clanwilliam ’22 once again. From a well worked lineout maul, Dan Swithenbank managed to touch down to make it 12-06. Clanwilliam dominated the final minutes of the half, firstly missing a kickable penalty and then failing to drive over the Bandon line from a maul. With a six point lead at half time the result looked like a formality.
In the second half the weather conditions gradually eased off to the extent that there was hardly any wind at all by the final quarter. Bandon started reasonably brightly but could not add to their tally in the early stages. Clanwilliam then proceeded to give an exhibition of into the wind rugby by keeping the game very tight and using their strong pack to good effect. To compound matters, Colin Jackson was then binned for an offence at a ruck. The Bandon scrum had been rock solid all afternoon, and this remained the case, even when reduced to seven men with hooker Mike Murphy and wing forward Scott Kingston, moving seamlessly to loose head prop and hooker respectively. Clanwilliam were at this stage dominating territorially and the pressure finally told when they found a gap in the middle of the Bandon defence to touch down under the posts. The conversion made it 13-12. Clanwilliam then added a penalty to extend their advantage to 16-12. Entering the final minutes the game looked a lost cause until with thirty seconds to go, Bandon were awarded a penalty 40 metres out. New out-half Chris Laidler found a good touch. Bandon won lineout, but two attempted drives were repelled by the heavier Clanwilliam pack. The ball was then spun out to the backs where Laidler sent a long left to right spin pass which found Mighty Okafor, now operating at outside centre in place of the injured Jerry Crowley. Okafor managed to round his marker and get a pass away to Christian Mulcahy who dived over in the right corner in an unbelievable finale. Bandon are unbeaten away from home in the league this season and this is the second time they have snatched victory with the final play of the game. This result puts Bandon second in the table, with the teams in third and fourth having games in hand. Bandon will be disappointed that they could not build on a superb first half but nonetheless the manner of victory says a lot about the side’s character. Man of the match for Bandon and making a welcome return to the back row was Michael Beecher.
Bandon’s next assignment before the Christmas break is against Old Christians, again in the league, at home on Sunday 06th December. Kick off 2:30.
Bandon: Olan Crowley; Christain Mulcahy; Jerry Crowley; Ray Naea; Gearoid Crowley; Chris Laidler; Richie Walsh; Colin Jackson; Mike Murphy; Tim Crowley; Dan Swithenbank; Des Prendergast; Scott Kingston; Tom Ferguson; Michael Beecher.
Subs: Ross Bateman; Dermot Leahy; Cian Buttimer; Gearoid O’Leary; Mighty Okafor.