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1st XV Win 63-12 at Bangor 1st XV in Premier League



Photographs thanks to Charles Beaument

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On Saturday 27 August 2022 Instonians returned to Senior Rugby in the opening game of the Ulster League Division 2 against traditional rivals Bangor RFC in bright sunshine at a resplendent Upritchard Park. Whereas the main focus for both clubs this season will be the All Ireland League(AIL) where Instonians will join Bangor in Division 2C with games starting on Saturday 1 October 2022, this opening competitive fixture would give an early indication of where both teams were at in their preparation.


14:30 -   Instonians kicked off in front of a good crowd of home and away support. An early impressive Bangor scrum won them a penalty which they kicked to touch on the half way but lost the line out.

14:37 – Bangor 0 – Instonians 7

From an Instonians scrum in midfield 10 metres outside the Bangor 22 the ball was moved left to Ruari O’Farrell at pace. Bangor were penalised in defence and Instonians kicked to the corner. A clean catch from captain Eoin Murphy was followed by a good driving maul (a feature of last season’s promotion campaign) with the ball moved swiftly right with good hands for Matthew Kilpatrick to score in the corner. A great conversion from Jonathan Milliken followed.

14:43 – Bangor responded and like Instonians showed early intent to move the ball wide through outhalf Gareth Millar who orchestrated a number of phases of possession between backs and forwards. A good jackal by Davy Scott resulted in a relieving penalty to Instonians. Eoin Murphy took the resulting line out on the Bangor 10 metre line and it was Instonians turn to recycle possession through the phases and then a good dummy and clean line break from Jonathan Milliken in midfield found Daniel Keane in support. Only very good scrambled defence from Bangor prevented another Instonians try.

14:44 – An Instonian scrum on Bangor’s 10 meter line resulted in a penalty to Instonians this time. The resultant line out 15 metres from the Bangor line saw Mark Mairs with the clean catch and an excellent driving maul took Instonians over the goal line but Bangor managed to hold the ball up and get the relieving drop out.

14:50 – Bangor 0 – Instonians 14

Another strong Bangor scrum was rewarded with a penalty and kick to touch on their own 10 meter line. Again Instonians disrupted the Bangor line out and a great break from Mark Mairs was followed by quick hands on the right and Daniel Keane finishing under the posts for Jonathan Milliken to convert.


Given the warm conditions a scheduled water break followed and Instonians changed both props with Matthew Nelson and Ryan Hanson replaced by Schalke van der Merwe and Anton Lupari.

14:55 – Bangor 5 – Instonians 14

Bangor regrouped and recycled possession again through several phases. A line out on Instonians 22 saw Mark Mairs take a clean catch and following a great driving maul Matthew Keane saw the gap and made a great break. A quick tap penalty and fast transfer of the ball right and back left was only stopped by a good Bangor jackal. At this stage Bangor 9 Matthew Pentland went off with an injured knee and we wish him well in his recovery.

Bangor responded and recycled possession gaining a penalty on the Instonians 10 metre line and a great kick from out half Gareth Millar gave them an attacking line out 5 metres out. Despite losing the line out Bangor managed to drop on the loose ball over the line with Ethan Murray awarded the try.

Instonians immediately went back on the attack and put great pressure on Bangor for the rest of the first half with scrum penalties, clean line out takes, driving mauls and good quick hands right and left across the pitch.

15:06 – Teenage second row Chris Beaumont took a breather after a fine debut having just left school this year. He was replaced by Harry Gallagher on his return from injury last season.

15:09 – Bangor 5 – Instonians 21

With Bangor now trying to hang on and reach half time and a chance to regroup, a great intercept, juggle and regather by Matthew Keane and pass to Bevan Prinsloo in the Bangor 22 allowing the centre to run in under the posts for Jonathan Milliken to convert.

Instonians kept up the pressure for the rest of the half with talented out half Ruari O’Farrell pulling the strings with some deft passes to a backline keen to use the great conditions on offer. The continuity between forwards and backs and eagerness to keep the ball alive and play at a good temp made for a good spectacle.

HALF TIME - Bangor 5 – Instonians 21

15:18 – Bangor kicked dead from the restart and from a good Instonians scrum a huge gap opened up in midfield for full back Jonathan Milliken but there had been crossing and it was brought back.

15:21 - Bangor then attacked through the phases but very good defence from Instonians was epitomized by a great Mark Mairs tackle.

15:23 – Bangor 5 – Instonians 28

From a scrum on their own 10 metre line Instonians moved the ball right and a lovely draw of the man and perfectly timed pass from Ruari O’Farrell to Bevan Prinsloo gave Bevan open space to run into. Quickly realizing that he was ahead of his support Bevan immediately arched his way to towards the left touchline on the halfway line and sped up the touchline to outstrip the defence and round under the posts for Jonathan Milliken to convert. A great score.

15:25 – Bangor 5 – Instonians 35

From the kick off Matthew Keane made a great break up the left touch line and having passed inside to cousin Daniel Keane continued to support on the outside to take a perfectly time return pass to finish in the corner for a fine try. Jonathan Milliken added an excellent conversion from the touchline.

15:33 – Bevan Prinsloo took a breather to be replaced by Jack Elliott. Shortly after Rhys Davidson, who had a fine game in the backrow, got a yellow card.

15:43 – Bangor 5 – Instonians 42

Instonians continued to apply pressure and from a line out the ball was moved right and Davy Scott finished off with a try which Jonathan Milliken converted.

15:47 – Bangor 12 – Instonians 42

Instonains continued to apply pressure but a penalty for not releasing and quick thinking by Bangor allowed winger Shay Storey to show his pace to score in the corner. A great conversion followed.

15:49 – Bangor 12 – Instonians 49

Bangor then tried to move the ball on their own 10 metre line but Jack Elliott intercepted and ran in under the posts for Jonathan Milliken to convert.

15:54 – Bangor 12 – Instonians 56

Then a great piece of individual skill from out half Ruari O’Farrell saw him turn inside and out on the Bangor 10 metre line before passing to Davy Scott for his 2nd try. A super score.

Bangor to their credit continued to attack and the Instonians coaching team will have been very pleased with great defence including Daniel Keane in the far left hand corner and then Jonathan Milliken and Matthew Kilpatrick combining in the far right hand corner.

16:02 – Bangor 12 – Instonians 63

With time running out an Instonian penalty, kick to the corner and line out 10 metres out from the Bangor line resulted in Harry Gallagher taking a clean catch and the resulting driving maul finished with Matthew Nelson grounding the ball for the 9th Instonian try of the day. From the left hand touchline Jonathan Milliken sailed the ball through the posts to maintain his 100% record for the day off the tee.

FULL TIME -   Bangor 12 – Instonians 63

A very encouraging performance from Instonians at this very early stage of the season. Next Saturday 3 September 2022 we welcome Rainey OB RFC to Shaws Bridge , a side in Division 2B of the AIL which will represent a test but one that should be embraced. Thanks to Bangor for the game and to the referee who helped the game flow.

The MOM could easily have gone to either half back or Mark Mairs but for this game only it goes to the whole coaching team for getting the squad in such good shape and entertaining the large crowd with a great display of open attacking rugby.

Our club lost a great character recently in Tom Matthews and he would have love that yesterday. That one is for you Big Tom!