Down High travelled to Bangor on Saturday and despite being starved of possession for long periods they were resilient in defence and clinical when attacking opportunities presented themselves and ultimately came away with another impressive victory.
Down High had the best of the early attacks but Bangor had the first opportunity to open the scoring but failed with a straightforward penalty after 10 minutes. Errors and lack of discipline by Down High presented Bangor with possession which they then retained for several phases but the visitors defence was outstanding with strong tackling and excellent organisation ensuring that the their line remained intact. With 25 minutes gone Down High managed to get their hands on the ball and work their way up the field and when Bangor infringed at a ruck Justin Rea landed the resulting penalty to give Down High a 3 -0 lead which triggered an excellent period from the visitors and after the hardworking Ben Hale won a loose ruck the backs moved the ball smartly to the left to create an overlap but Luca Rea was denied a try in the corner when the referee was unsighted and could not confirm the touchdown. Bangor cleared their lines and were rewarded with a penalty which they successfully converted to leave the scoreline tied at 3 – 3 at halftime.
The second half saw Down High play some of their best rugby of the season, they began to use the ball wisely and Justin Rea began to control the match with some fine kicking to the corners one of which saw Luc Bonnargent following up and his hit on the Bangor fullback reclaimed the ball which the Down High backs moved quickly to the left where Ryan Smyth showed strength to finish in the corner to take the score to 8 – 3.
The forwards were beginning to gain the upper hand, competing hard in the loose and despite struggling in a few scrums were more than a match for the larger Bangor pack with Rob Long putting in his best performance of the season well supported by Jamie Ross, Chris Martin and the rest of the pack.
The try of the match came on 55 minutes, Justin Rea made a break and when he was tackled he flicked the ball to Kelvin Hamilton who made ground before offloading to Luca Rea who committed the last defender before popping the ball to Bonnargent who finished the move with a try in the corner to extent the lead to 13 – 3.
Down High were now in control and a Justin Rea penalty extended the lead to 16 – 3 and with only seconds remaining on the clock the visitors were awarded another penalty inside the Bangor 22 which they opted to kick for touch and from the resulting lineout the forwards worked a well rehearsed catch and drive move which saw Sean Walsh score in the corner to leave the final score 21 -3.
This performance will give the team confidence ahead of next weeks final dress rehearsal for the Schools Cup which sees Down High host Coleraine Inst the following week.