Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Round Up Saturday 19th March 2016
Friday, 18 March 2016
The last week of the current schools’ season saw the remaining three competition finals played. These three final brought the curtain down on what has been a busy season for everyone involved in Ulster Schools’ Rugby.
On Monday 14th March Down High School and Wallace High School met in the final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield competition at the Kingspan Stadium. The game, which Wallace High School won by 21-5, was played in excellent conditions in front of a large band of enthusiastic supporters. It was the first time the Wallace High School team had won the Subsidiary Shield outright having shared the Shield with Omagh Academy in 1986.
Down missed an early chance to take the lead when a 3rd minute penalty was pushed wide. Wallace High School took the lead on six minutes with their first attack. Down were punished for killing the ball on the ground and the Wallace High School scrum half and captain, Jonny Stewart, landed a penalty from just inside the 10 metre line to give his team a 3-0 lead. Wallace then got the game’s opening try on twenty two minutes when they elected to kick a penalty into the corner. From the lineout No 8, Gary Dillon, made a break but he was stopped short. The forwards, with Michael Smyth leading the charge, worked the ball through a number of phases before Jonny Stewart surged through a gap to touch down under the posts. Jonny converted his own try to send his team into a 10-0 lead. Down High might have had a try following their first sustained period of pressure in the Wallace 22m area. Their forwards rumbled close to the line for a few phases before No 8, Zac Ward, son of former European Cup winner and Ulster captain, Andy, barged over but he was held up. From the resultant scrum Down High School conceded a penalty allowing the Lisburn School to clear their lines. Then, in injury time, Wallace extended their first half lead with a second try. Winger, Josh Cardosi, made a break from his own half and he fed Kyle Hayes who carried deep into the Down 22 m area. Kyle cut inside and offloaded to centre, Johnny Hunter, who dotted down for an unconverted try to give Wallace High School a 15-0 advantage at the interval.
Jonny Stewart added a penalty for Wallace six minutes after the restart to increase their lead to 18-0. Wallace then took advantage of Down indiscipline as Jonny added another penalty on forty nine minutes to increase the Wallace lead to 21-0. Then Down wasted another opportunity to get points on the board when they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts a Wallace player was caught offside. They elected to kick to the corner and from the lineout the forwards drove close to the Wallace High School line. However, Wallace defended cleverly and the ball was ripped in contact allowing Wallace to clear the danger. Down High School eventually opened their account fifty six minutes into the second half. They kicked a penalty into the corner and their forwards made the “hard yards” before prop, Harry McCormick, charged through a gap and swan dived over the line to touch down for an unconverted try to reduce the deficit to 21-5. Both teams went looking for more points but both defences were determined to let no-one through. No further points ensured it was the Wallace High School team that celebrated their 21-5 victory in the final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield.
At the post–match presentation ceremony Bobby Stewart, President of the Ulster Branch, IRFU, thanked both teams for playing out such an entertaining game, congratulated both schools on reaching the final, thanked Patrick Rea and his officials for the way in which they contributed to the occasion, thanked the Danske Bank for their continued support of schools’ rugby in Ulster and thanked both sets of coaches for all their hard work throughout the season. Bobby then presented Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield finalist medals to players from both teams and the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield to Jonny Stewart, captain of the victorious Wallace High School team.
On the evening of Tuesday 16th March Lurgan Rugby Football Club hosted the annual Gary Clarke Cup tournament involving the senior players from Lurgan College, Banbridge Academy, Friends’ School, Lisburn and Portadown College. This tournament has become a firm favourite of the players and coaches from the four schools involved and this season’s tournament was no exception. The Gary Clarke Cup was shared between Banbridge Academy and Friends’ School, Lisburn last season but both teams had their hold on the trophy loosened when Portadown College defeated Friends’ School, Lisburn by 3-0 with a penalty kick which was the final play of the tournament. The Friends’ School team defeated Lurgan College by 7-0 in their first game. Daniel Patterson and Henry Tolerton combined to send Curtis Dundas in for a try which was converted by George Pringle. The Friends’ School team then drew 0-0 with Banbridge Academy in an exciting game in which both defences excelled. In their final group stage game the Friends’ School team defeated Portadown College by 7-0. George Pringle broke from the half way line and rounded the Portadown defence to touch down for a try. George added the conversion to secure the win. This set up a final run out against the Portadown College team who had Michael Orr to thank for his successful penalty with the last kick of the game. All the teams involved would like to thank Lurgan RFC for organising the tournament which was enjoyed by all the players involved, as was the post-match hospitality.
On Wednesday 16th March the 3rd xv Plate final took place at Ballyclare High School when the Ballyclare High School 3rdxv team played out a 14-14 draw against Ballyclare Secondary School. The game was played in excellent spirit with both teams determined to play the game in a positive manner. The Ballyclare High School team took a 3-0 lead when Bruce Deyermond converted a penalty opportunity following a Ballyclare Secondary School infringement at the breakdown. Ballyclare Secondary School then responded with a converted try from Jacob Dougan which ensured they took a 7-3 lead into the break.
A Sam Caldwell penalty in the early stages of the second half reduced the Ballyclare High School deficit to 7-6. However, the Ballyclare Secondary School team then took a 14-6 lead when their impressive Ulster Clubs’ U18 player, Aaron Hall, stormed in for a converted try. The Ballyclare High School team responded positively to that setback and reduced the arrears to 14-11 when Reece Turner scored an unconverted try in the corner. This had the effect of recharging the Ballyclare High School batteries. They pressurized the Ballyclare Secondary School team into conceding a penalty. With the clock in the “red” up stepped Sam Caldwell to bisect the posts with his kick to see the game finish as a 14-14 draw.
At the post match presentation ceremony Bobby Stewart, President of the Ulster Branch, IRFU, thanked both teams for playing out such an entertaining game, congratulated both schools on reaching the final, thanked Tarek Qutteineh and his officials for the way in which they contributed to the occasion, thanked the Danske Bank for their continued support of schools’ rugby in Ulster and thanked both sets of coaches for all their hard work throughout the season. Bobby then presented Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 3rdxv Plate finalist medals to players from both teams and the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 3rdxv Plate jointly to Bruce Deyermond and Aaron Hall, respective captains of the Ballyclare High School and Ballyclare Secondary School teams.
On the same afternoon Ballymena Academy 2ndxv hosted the Belfast Metropolitan College team in a game the Ballymena Academy won by 39-0. The respective teams are coached by the Moore brothers, Aaron and Nathan, and it was Aaron’s team that won on the day with a strong performance. Michael Stronge scored two tries for the Ballymena Academy team with Scott Agnew, Ben Savage, Jordan Foster and David Hogg each scoring one. David McCluggage was successful with three conversions as well as one penalty kick.
Meanwhile, at the Mid Ulster Sports Arena Rainey Endowed School and Omagh Academy played a three team series of games at U17 “A”, U17”B” and U16 level. The games were all very closely contested with Omagh Academy winning the U17 “A” game by 5-0 and the U17 “B” game finished as a 5-5 draw. The scorers were Oisin Shiels and Taine Lagan for the Omagh teams with Adam Thornton touching down for the Rainey Endowed School team. The Rainey Endowed team won the U16 game by 5-0 with Tom Hughes scoring the try. Almost one hundred U16 and U17 players took part in these games and the occasion was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone concerned.
The Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup final was played in front of a huge crowd of spectators at the Kingspan Stadium on St Patrick’s Day. Perfect conditions ensured both the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and Campbell College teams were able to play a hotly contested game at a great pace. The Royal Belfast Academical Institution team won the game by 13-3 but was pushed very hard by an excellent Campbell College team. James Hume was the hero as the Royal Belfast Academical Institution team won back-to-back Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup titles for the first time since 1948. James kicked two first half penalties and converted his own last-minute try to seal an historic win for RBAI who were on the back foot for the entire second half.
After two hugely entertaining semi-finals a large crowd of 7,000 attended a sunny Kingspan Stadium hoping for some free-flowing rugby but the game proved to be a tightly contested affair. RBAI enjoyed a great start to the match and, when a Campbell defender was penalised for not rolling away at a ruck, James Hume knocked over a straight-forward third minute penalty to give his team a 3-0 lead. His side almost got the game’s opening try just moments later when a beautiful reverse pass by Rhys O’Donnell sent James through to within metres of the line but the return pass was spilled by the lively scrumhalf. The Campbell College team then grew into the game and levelled the scores in the 21st minute courtesy of a well-struck penalty by openside flanker, John Crowther. The Campbell College team was now on top and a neat scrum starter play sent Jonny Haldane charging through. Unfortunately his kick for the onrushing Jack Howard was covered superbly by the Belfast Inst captain, Conor Field, who cleared the danger and saved a certain score. Neither team was able to find their way across the whitewash despite a number of line breaks. However, James Hume added a second penalty on the stroke of half time to give the Royal Belfast Academical Institution team a 6-3 advantage at the interval.
Campbell College started the second half much more positively and looked to have scored early in the second half only for Ben McGavock to produce a superb tackle to thwart Jamie Macartney’s efforts to make the try line. John Crowther then had a chance from the tee to regain parity but his effort drifted to the right of the posts. RBAI lost a player to the “bin” in the fifty third minute for a high tackle. For the next ten minutes Campbell enjoyed a period of possession in the opposition 22m area. No 8, Jack Barry-Glendinning, crossed from a close range drive but there was a knock-on in the build-up much to the disappointment of the vocal Campbell College support. Campbell continued to apply pressure as the Belfast Inst team failed to implement an effective exit strategy from their 22m area. However, the Inst team displayed great character and resolve to keep their line intact as Campbell produced wave after wave of attacks in which Nicolai Koplewsky and Tom O’Toole played central roles. Close to the end of the game a loose Campbell College pass was gratefully pounced upon by James Hume who dashed in from sixty metres out to dot down under the posts. James added the extras on the final whistle and this was greeted by jubilant scenes as the Royal Belfast Academical Institution supporters celebrated a memorable 13-3 triumph at the end of this enthralling Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup final.
Post-Match the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup was presented to the captain of the victorious Royal Belfast Academical Institution team, Conor Field, by Valerie Stewart, wife of the Ulster Branch President, Bobby Stewart.