Loss in final also ended league title defence
IT was double disappointment for Bandon in Irish Independent Park on Sunday.
Their Munster Junior Clubs Challenge Cup final against Richmond also doubled up as a crucial Division 1 league game – and Bandon knew they had to win to keep the defence of their league crown alive.
But Bandon came up short by the tightest of margins, missing a late penalty that would have won this cup final.
This defeat saw them relinquish their league crown but it had all started so well. Ben Ridgeway slotted an early penalty to give Bandon a 3-0 lead.
Bandon were in the ascendancy and looked like they could break through, especially in the wider channels. The Bandon forwards were clearing the rucks well and from quick ball, scrumhalf Santi Quaranta saw an opportunity to attack around the ruck and made great inroads into Richmond territory. Just as it looked like the move would break down, support arrived and some great hands saw winger Gearoid O’Leary crash over in the corner for a well-taken try. This went unconverted and left Bandon with an 8-0 lead.
Richmond’s reply was a penalty that reduced the lead, but Bandon were quickly back on the attack. From a lineout on the Richmond 22, an intricate midfield move brought play up to the Richmond line. The ball was quickly recycled and good hands and a strong carry by Aidan Slattery got Bandon almost to the line. The ball was moved quickly again for Scott Kingston to crash over near the post for a converted try that extended Bandon’s lead to 15-3. Despite some Richmond pressure in the last couple of minutes of the half, Bandon survived until the half-time whistle.
The second half saw Richmond strike early when winger Keelan Stephenson squeezed in in the corner for an unconverted try, 15-8.
Bandon settled back into the game again and a penalty in front of the posts saw Ben Ridgeway slot it over and give them a little breathing space, 18-8.
Richmond felt like they were still in it though and continued to put Bandon under pressure. When winger Stephenson got in for another unconverted try in the corner, it left the score at 18-13.
From the kick off back row Tim Cummins was pinged for a high tackle and harshly yellow carded which gave Bandon another problem to deal with. Things went from bad to worse when a powerful scrum surge by Richmond in successive scrums led to another yellow card for prop Stephen Murphy.
Bandon did well defensively from the subsequent scrum though and forced a handling error to win a defensive scrum. From the subsequent kick though Bandon were penalised and Richmond kicked down to the 22. Richmond caught it cleanly and set up the maul, driving powerfully towards the Bandon line. The referee stuck out his hand for a penalty advantage and as Richmond approached the line awarded a penalty try as Bandon desperately defended their line.
This was an awful outcome for Bandon as instead of a difficult conversion Richmond now had an automatic seven points and grabbed the lead for the first time deep into injury time.
With only seconds remaining Bandon set about retrieving the ball from the kick off and some aggressive tackling forced a knockon. With barely time to set the scrum Bandon launched a series of attacks with the Bandon support baying for a penalty decision. This duly came as Richmond were penalised, leaving Bandon with a kick to the left of the posts. Up stepped Ben Ridgeway who struck it well but just shaved the left post to leave the final score at 20-18 to Richmond.
It was an agonising defeat for Bandon who had led for all but about 30 seconds of the game since they took the lead in the fifth minute.
Bandon: Mike Murphy, Scott Kingston, Mark Phelan, Cian Buttimer, Enda Phelan, Tim Cummins, Kieran Phelan, Tom Ferguson, Santiago Gonzalez, Ben Ridgeway, Gearoid O’Leary, Kerry Desmond, Jerry Crowley, Matthew Crowley, Bronson Waaka.
Replacements: Aidan Slattery, Stephen Murphy, Jack Lordan, Philip Murphy, Olan Crowley.