Down High started strongly with a slight breeze in their favour and they took a 3 point lead on 13 minutes when Justin Rea landed a penalty after the home team infringed at a ruck. This gave the visitors the confidence to try and move the ball wide at every opportunity but they failed to capitalize on a number of promising phases with the final pass being spilled on at least three occasions but with 24 minutes gone everything clicked into place and when Banbridge missed touch, Ryan Smyth fielded the kick and the Down High backs quickly moved the ball left to find Rory Martin who showed great footwork to beat the last defender to score in the corner. Justin Rea added the conversion to take the Down High lead to 10 – 0. From the restart Down High seemed to lose concentration and their failure to compete aggressively and secure ball at the breakdown let Banbridge back into the game and they kicked a penalty to reduce the deficit to 10 – 3. Then on the stroke of half time Down High infringed at a ruck to gift Banbridge a further 3 points with a penalty in front of the posts to leave the score at the interval 10 -6.
From the restart Down High upped their game and Rea began to test the opposition with a number of well placed kicks and following good work by Ben Hale the ball was secured and Jamie Ross forced his way over for a try in the right corner to increase the lead to 15 – 6 .Shortly afterwards when Banbridge were penalized 30 meters out Down High turned down the opportunity to kick for posts and instead went for touch. Thomas Donnan won the resulting lineout and the backs executed a well rehearsed move to put Jack Calvert over from short range. Justin Rea added the extras to extend the Down High lead to 22 -6.
The ever reliable Tommy McConnell reclaimed possession from the restart and Down High worked their way back upfield and following a ruck on the Banbridge 22 the ball was moved right and Ryan Smyth showed great strength to score in the corner taking the score to 27 – 6. The last 10 minutes saw several substitutions on both sides which slightly disrupted the pattern of play and the match ended with no further points added to leave the final score 27 – 6 and give Down High a confidence boost ahead of a tough fixture away to Bangor next Saturday as the preparation for the Schools Cup continues.
Picture: Try scorers for Down High at Banbridge on Saturday. (left to right; Ryan Smyth, Jamie Ross, Jack Calvert, Rory Martin)