Bandon lads striving to reach a first senior decider

The West Cork school meet favourites Crescent College Comprehensive in cup semi-final at Takumi Park in Limerick later today at 2.30.
Bandon lads striving to reach a first senior decider

JayC van der Westhuizen, Bandon Grammar School in action against Rockwell College at Musgrave Park. Schools rugby.

THIS pair attempt at the second time of asking to determine who meets PBC in the decider after an unplayable Clifford Park forced the postponement of the original fixture a fortnight ago.

The west Cork school are still searching for an historic first appearance in a final, having gone close on a couple of occasions in recent years.

They showed against CBC and then in the 17-0 win over Rockwell College that they have the material behind the scrum to trouble a Crescent side that remains unbeaten in both the qualifying phase and knock-out stages of the cup.

Half-backs Dylan O’Driscoll and Jeff Williams direct a back line that contains impressive physique and a skill-set that has contributed six of their seven tries to-date.

Wing Barry Spearman-Walsh has three to his name, centre Peter O’Sullivan, two, with O’Driscoll also getting in on the act, as did prop Fionn O’Neill.

Bandon also showed no signs of scars following the Christians’ defeat because they began the Rockwell game in similar fashion, Spearman-Walsh crossing twice for a 10-lead at the interval.

And while Rockwell applied pressure late on, the west Cork defence stood up defiantly before conjuring a magnificent third try from O’Sullivan to seal victory.

The back-row of Conor Miskella, Adam Murphy and Jay van der Westhuizen is a finely balanced unit, but, like all overall performances, there’s room for improvement, notably at line-out time.

It’s also the first occasion that Bandon must travel out of Cork and cope with all the characteristics of a grass pitch, having played twice on Musgrave Park’s Astro-surface.

Conditions will be a factor, particularly as all the recent rain is sure to cut up the surface and this could impact on Bandon’s ability to play with the ball in hand and at pace, too.

Either way, they will need to bring their A game because as Crescent showed in their come-from-behind 17-13 win against Pres on the back pitch at Thomond Park, they carry an all-round game to cater for whatever the challenge.

Number eight Ruadhan Quinn is a colossal threat to Bandon’s prospects, so too hooker Conall Henchy while half-backs Jamie Duggan and Oscar Davey know all the tricks.

Both are astute kickers of the ball and the Limerick side will expect to adopt a pragmatic approach by first gaining territory and then attempting to capitalise when applying pressure on their opponents.

Crescent played with a lot of confidence against Pres despite falling behind on three occasions only to respond almost immediately.

The sides were level 10-10 at the interval after Davey opened their account with a penalty before converting Mark Fitzgerald’s try following a terrific break by Quinn.

After Pres edged 13-10 in front during the second-half the Limerick side responded straight from the re-start by engineering a close-range line-out, which yielded a match-winning penalty-try.

Crescent then ran the clock and ensure they took the direct path to the semi-final and sent Pres on the scenic route.

Crescent are expected to win and there’s no pressure on Bandon accordingly.

Let’s hope the weather doesn’t prove to be a right spoil-sport to what should be an exciting encounter.

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