Bangor second best against Seapoint
By Roger Corbett
Despite a strong line-up, Bangor failed to play as a team and fell to a much better organised and hungry Seapoint side, eventually losing by 0-13.
From the opening kick-off by Seapoint, Bangor looked to be more focussed than in previous games, and were straight into their stride in the set pieces. However, despite their good defensive efforts, they were unable to stop a strong Seapoint surge that was finished off by second row forward Mark McCoy, which was duly converted by out half Cian Buckley. As usual, the Bangor pack was performing well, resulting in them winning three penalties from their first three scrums. However, the prevailing wind hindered Gareth Millar’s kicks, resulting in little advantage being made. By contrast, Seapoint repeatedly kicked towards the scoreboard corner, which kept the home side pinned down for long periods inside their own twenty two. Again, on the plus side, Bangor’s defence managed to thwart repeated attacks from Seapoint, which made the possibility of a second half comeback all the more possible when they would then have the wind at their backs. However, a late Seapoint penalty kicked by Bain Champion extended their lead to 10 points as the half time whistle came.
As the second half got underway, Bangor’s lack of progress was frustrating to watch. Whereas Seapoint appeared to know what they were about to do when they got possession, the Bangor players looked to be doing their own thing, with little in the way of planning or support. There were some good breaks, most notably from Phil Broderick, Liam Preston and Mark Widdowson, but they came to nothing when they were brought to ground and then robbed of the ball by some very determined Seapoint rucking. In fact, it was this apparent desire by the visitors to win the ball at every occasion, and then use it positively, which was probably the major difference between the two sides. As time ticked away, things got worse for the home side. Having completely dominated the scrums in the first half, and won several penalties as a result, it came as something of a shock when the second half saw Bangor repeatedly penalised for driving up in the front row. By all accounts the Seapoint coach won the battle of the half time talks.
Although Bangor did manage to work their way, albeit painfully slowly, into the Seapoint twenty two, they never looked to put the Seapoint line under pressure. Then, as the game entered its final quarter, Seapoint added another penalty from the boot of Champion to extend their lead to 0-13, meaning Bangor needed two converted tries if they were to snatch a late win – something that looked highly unlikely to all but the most optimistic Bangor supporters. As the game entered its final few minutes, Bangor mounted another hopeful foray into the Seapoint twenty two. However, the teams individual and collective errors coupled with a determined Seapoint defence denied Bangor the chance of redeeming a losing bonus point which their performance barely deserved.
As the final whistle finally put Bangor out of their misery, Seapoint could justifiably savour another vital victory and keep their chances of avoiding relegation alive. Although many league positions at the bottom half of the table didn’t change much – both Bangor and Seapoint stayed where they were before this game – the points cushion that Bangor had is starting to dwindle, putting added importance and pressure on their coming games. As their next fixture is away to third placed Bruff next Saturday, there would need to be a dramatic change in direction and game management if they are to come away with a more positive result. The hope is that coaches Mike Ferguson and Lewis Stevenson will be able to conjure up some of the missing magic that produced such remarkable performances earlier in the season.