Midleton Senior 1st IX played against a travelling Bangor side on Saturday the 30th of September in Towns Park. Final score read 8 – 15 to the visitors in what was a tough game for the home side. Telling signs from early on in the game through the set piece, which Bangor had full control of.
Buoyed by a late converted try to secure a bonus point draw last weekend away to Omagh, the Midleton men started on top with some good running rugby and soft hands from the pack, finding the soft shoulder and winning collisions for the first 10 minutes. This early pressure led to a well taken try from Rian Hogan who dotted down in the corner, Rob Smyth claiming the assist. This seemed to wake up the travelling side who then started to mount the come back.
With both sides playing a similar brand of attacking rugby it was difficult to see where the defensive walls would be broken. Time and time again the respective forward packs would lock horns around the ruck and the 9/10 channel, none able to claim dominance. It was at scrum time that a well versed Bangor pack showed the damage that they could do, with the Midleton men having to scramble to claim their own ball. The conditions had calmed from the earlier warning of heavy rain and it was dry for the most part, however, there seemed a layer of damp on the ball at all times as the knock-ons were consistent throughout, to the dismay of the home side. The effort at scrum time began to tell as the visiting team found a few gaps. Scrum half, Lewis Bret, burst through the defense to find himself one on one between the fullback and the try line. Some foot work and power put him over the white wash by a matter of centimeters. The visitors converted to make the score 5-7. Respective outhalfs traded penalties to send the sides 8-10 going into the break. That was to be Midletons last score in the game.
The second half story line went much the same as the first, with Bangor unable to convert there dominance in the scrum. A number of key substitutions made by Tom Mul before and at the break may have contributed to this, with the introduction of three new faces into the tight 5. This gave Yorkie Cronin some extra time at the back of the scrum to retrieve the ball, ensuring more of a contest on our own set piece.
The travelers added a further 5 points following some miss communication in the outside backs which led to a lineout on the Midleton 5 metre line. Bangor knocked on the door for multiple phases before fining a weakness. The home side were not getting around the corner of the ruck quick enough, giving some of the big men a chance to run at the backs from close range. The ensuing conversion hit the crossbar, the home side leaving out a sigh of relief.
The final stages of the game were touch and go as Bangor pushed for more points and Midleton desperately held on for the losing bonus point. The final phase of the game came in the shape of a scrum, just outside the Midelton 22 slightly left of the posts, what would be a perfect kicking position should there be a penalty. The call came in from the Bangor management to try and eek a penalty out of the past scrum, however, the visitors were too eager. They got the ball back to the number 8s feet and were abut to begin their surge forward when a slip happened. With the ball at the back of the scrum referee, Tim Townend, ordered Bret to use it. Mercifully it was kicked to touch to end the game at 8-15, both sides managing to go away with points.
The next game is against Bective Rangers, in Donnybrook on Saturday 7th October. This will be the last game in a block of four before a deserved two weekend break from AIL. The next home game is against Munster rivals Thomond on the 28th of October.