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Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Round Up Saturday 20th February 2016

Monday, 22 February 2016

With all schools on a half-term break there were no games midweek in the lead up to a list of Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Quarter-Final games, Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield Quarter-Final games, Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Bowl Semi-Final games and one Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Trophy Semi-Final game played on Saturday 20th February.
Two of the most successful school teams in the history of the Ulster Schools’ Cup competition met at the quarter-final stage of this season’s Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup when Campbell College hosted their cross town rivals from Methodist College in a very closely contested encounter the Campbell College team won by 11-10. The game was played in front of a large group of supporters with the difficult overhead and underfoot conditions causing problems for both teams in the course of the early exchanges. The difficult conditions led to a number of errors from both teams and it was from one such error the Methodist College team took an early 3-0 lead. The home team was pressurized into conceding a penalty in front of their posts which was converted by Paul Kerr to see the Methodist College team into a 3-0 lead. The Campbell College team responded positively and took the game deep into Methodist College territory. The Methody defence was strong with players such as Zach Jordan, Josh Jordan, Thomas Gallagher, Cameron Kelly and Alex Cairns all getting through a lot of work. However, they conceded a penalty, which was successfully converted by flanker, John Crowther, to draw the score level at 3-3. Further Campbell College pressure forced the Methodist College team into conceding another penalty. This time it was scrum half, Malcolm Corry, who stepped up to successfully split the uprights with his kick, to send the Campbell College team into the break at half time with a 6-3 lead.

The second half saw the larger Campbell College pack begin to dominate proceedings more noticeably. The Campbell College pack, with Matthew Russell, team captain, James Boyle and Ireland U18 hopeful, Tom O’Toole, all to the fore, was enjoying a degree of superiority at the set pieces although the Methodist College team was clever at the breakdown where Zach Jordan and Thomas Gallagher were getting through a lot of work. The Campbell College pack was held up twice over the Methodist College line at this stage of the game. Then the breakthrough came and the Campbell College lead was increased to 11-3 when their No 8, Jack Barry-Glendinning, took advantage of good work from his fellow forwards and was driven over the Methodist College line to touch down for an unconverted try. The Campbell College team was now going all out to finish the game off with their much vaunted backline asking questions of the Methodist College defence. The Methody defence was up to standard and gave little away. Indeed, as a result of some effective Methodist College defence, a Campbell College attack broke down when a loose pass was given away. The ball was gratefully intercepted by Paul Kerr who did not need a second invitation to head for the Campbell College goal line. He outpaced a number of despairing Campbell College defenders and touched down for a try close to the Campbell College posts. Paul added the conversion to his try to reduce the arrears to 11-10 with just minutes of the game remaining. Now it was the turn of the Methodist College team to attack. Their comeback had instilled a degree of confidence among the players and they went looking for the win. Cameron Kelly and Alex Cairns, both try scorers in the previous round, launched a number of attacks but the Campbell College defence, with Jonny Haldane, Paddy Beverland and Ben Webb all getting through a lot of work, was determined that nothing should pass. They were also disciplined in their defensive efforts and gave nothing away. The final whistle sounded and it was the Campbell College team that celebrated their hard-earned 11-10 victory at the end of this enthralling Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup quarter-final game.

Ballymena Academy and Belfast Royal Academy had not met in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup since the 2010 Final, a game which saw the Belfast team, containing Stuart Olding and Iain Henderson, lose a nail-biting 10-7 contest to a Ballymena side that included John Andrew and Matthew Rea. Six years on the teams met again at the Galgorm Road venue with Marcus Rea’s team going into the match as favourites following a strong performance against Wallace High School in the previous round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. The Ballymena Academy team justified their favourite’s tag by winning the game 20-9. The game, which was watched by a large crowd of spectators, was played in wet and difficult conditions which caused problems for the players on both teams. It was Belfast Royal Academy who opened the scoring when full back, Michael Wilson, coolly slotted an early penalty to give his team a 3-0 lead following a Ballymena Academy indiscretion at the breakdown. This early set-back seemed to spark the home team to life and, after several carries from Marcus Rea, Josh Bill and Jonny McKeown, they forced the opposition into conceding a penalty. Bruce Houston hit a superb line kick which took his team to a lineout ten metres from the Belfast Royal Academy line. Following an accurate throw from Alexander Clarke Ballymena drove aggressively towards the try line and Jonathan McKeown was on hand to touch down for the opening try of the game. Bruce Houston added the extras to put the Ballymena Academy team into a 7-3 lead. A few minutes he made no mistake with a penalty to increase his team’s lead to 10-3. The breakdown was proving to be an extremely competitive area of the game with both teams generating penalties and turn-overs. From one of these penalties Michael Wilson knocked over the kick to reduce the Belfast Royal Academy deficit to 10-6. On the stroke of half-time Bruce Houston confidently struck his second penalty of the morning to give the Ballymena Academy team a 13 – 6 lead at the break.
The second half progressed and the game became an increasingly scrappy affair with Ballymena working hard to find attacking field position but struggling to break down the gritty Belfast Royal Academy defence in which Cormac McCracken, Tom Gilpin, Gareth McAdams, Francis Collins and Conor McAuley stood out. Ballymena Academy were turned over in the middle of the field and an infringement by full-back, Mark Thompson, was punished with both a yellow card and a Belfast Royal Academy penalty. Michael Wilson was successful with his penalty kick to reduce the arrears to 13-9. With the Ballymena Academy team leading by 13-9, and with fourteen men, the home team played some of their best rugby of the morning as they kept possession through a number of phases. Shortly after the return of Mark Thompson to the field of play the Ballymena Academy team scored the crucial try of the morning. Conor Cosgrove linked with Angus Kernohan and the Ballymena centre showed great pace, strength and determination to finish with a try from forty metres out. Bruce Houston added the conversion to stretch the Ballymena Academy lead to 20-9. Ten minutes later the final whistle sounded with the Ballymena Academy team relieved to have seen off the challenge from a very resilient Belfast Royal Academy side and looking forward to taking their place in the semi-final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup.

Dalriada School hosted Bangor Grammar School at the St James’s Road venue and found themselves in the draw for the semi-finals of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup after their well-deserved 17-5 victory. The Dalriada team had to make a number of changes close to kick off due to an illness bug that swept their squad. The Dalriada team started the game strongly and controlled possession for the opening exchanges of the game. However, ill-discipline by the home team allowed the Bangor Grammar School team back into the game. Despite this there was little the Bangor GS team could do to prevent the Dalriada team from taking the lead. Sustained Dalriada pressure saw a series of “pick and go” attacks launched at the Bangor Grammar School line. Eventually, the Dalriada hooker, Jack Dowey, took advantage of some slack Bangor defence and he scrambled over for a try. Stewart Moore was successful withy the conversion kick to give the Dalriada team a 7-0 lead. Bangor came right back at the Ballymoney men and used their big ball carriers such as Evan Willard-McMillen, Martin Withers and Matthew Agnew in order to create pressure. However, the Dalriada defence proved too strong and they held out and managed to clear the danger. They turned the Bangor GS ball over on a number of occasions and managed to gain territory through the good tactical kicking of Matthew McConaghie and Angus Johnston. They might have come close to scoring on a couple of occasions but handling errors and poor decisions ensured there were no further scores in the first half and the Dalriada team took their 7-0 lead into the interval.

The start of the second half saw Matthew Ferguson and Fergal Wiseman carry well which allowed the Dalriada team to set up field position in the Bangor Grammar School “Red Zone” Good work from Jack Horseburgh frustrated the Bangor GS attempts to employ good exit strategies from their lineouts and the pressure on their defence was beginning to frustrate the Bangor Grammar School players. They gave a penalty away but the kick was missed by the home team. This let off seemed to galvanise the Bangor team and they started to make better use of the wind. Good tactical awareness from Cameron Webb took play deep into Dalriada territory and the Bangor team eventually got some reward for their endeavours when Connor McKee crashed over the Dalriada line to touch down for an unconverted try to reduce the deficit to 7-5. Dalriada came straight back at the Bangor team and managed to force an error from the Bangor defence. They were awarded a penalty in front of the Bangor posts which Stewart Moore converted to give the Dalriada team a 10-5 lead. Dalriada, cheered on by a massive crowd, were playing with their tails up and they made inroads into the opponent’s defence with very strong runs from Dennis Posterax and Alan Montgomery. They showed real patience and showed how much they wanted the win by throwing themselves at the defence. Bangor were equally committed but they couldn’t do enough to hold out Jack Horseburgh who was delighted to run in for the decisive try. The try was converted by Thomas Hunter which increased the Dalriada lead to 17-5, a lead they held until the no-side whistle at the end of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Quarter-Final game.

Royal Belfast Academical Institution recorded a relatively comfortable 38-0 victory against Sullivan Upper School when the teams met at Osborne Park in the quarter-final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. The Belfast Inst team controlled most of the territory and possession in the course of the first half and had built up a 26-0 lead by halftime. The Royal Belfast Academical Institution team took a 7-0 lead when good tactical kicking from Rhys O’Donnell and Michael Lowry put them into good field positions. Good line speed from their kick chasers saw Mark Keane charge down an attempted Sullivan Upper clearance kick. In the chase for the ball Mark was tackled illegally and this resulted in a penalty try. James Hume successfully converted the try and the Belfast Inst team had a 7-0 lead. The home team continued to play the territorial advantage well and applied great pressure on the Sullivan Upper set piece. From one such scrum the strength of the Inst pack, with props Callum Reid and John Dickson to the fore, turned over Sullivan Upper possession. David Whitten took full advantage and crashed over the whitewash for a try. James Hume added the conversion to the see the Belfast Inst team into a 14-0 lead. Then the Belfast Inst captain, Conor Field, showed just what a talented player he is. He gathered a Sullivan Upper clearance kick, took on and outflanked a number of defenders, chipped the ball over the Sullivan Upper fullback and regathered the ball to touch down for an unconverted try to give his team a 19-0 lead. Just before the half time break a Royal Belfast Academical Institution attack, involving most members of the team, was finished off by their “Man of the Match” Rhys O’Donnell. James Hume added the conversion to see his team into a 26-0 lead at the interval.

The second half saw the Belfast Inst team continue to dominate proceedings. Despite the best defensive efforts of Sullivan Upper players such as Calum Jeffrey, Matty Moran, Rory Kilpatrick, Lewis Smyth and Jake Stevenson there was little they could do to prevent Rhys O’Donnell running in his second try of the game. Charlie Cloke turned over Sullivan Upper possession at the breakdown and the ball was quickly recycled. Rhys took full advantage and ran in for a try from thirty five metres. James Hume converted the try to increase the Belfast Inst lead to 33-0. The spirited Sullivan Upper team never gave up but, in trying to run a ball out of their half, saw a pass intercepted by Michael Lowry. Michael needed no encouragement and finished off with an unconverted try which secured the 38-0 victory for the Royal Belfast Academical Institution team at the end of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup quarter-final encounter.

There were four Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield Quarter-Final games played on Saturday 20th February.

Down High School hosted Ballyclare High School in a game the Down High school team won by 25-12. The Down High School team bounced back from their disappointing Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup defeat against Belfast Royal Academy two weeks ago to record a confidence boosting win over Ballyclare High School when the teams met in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield Quarter-Final in Downpatrick. The home side got off to fantastic start when Zac Ward crashed over the line in the third minute of the game to finish off a great series of phase plays that included an incisive line break by William Annett. Charlie Power added the extras to give the Down High School team a 7-0 lead. Ballyclare High School narrowed the gap ten minutes into the half when a missed tackle in the Down High defence allowed the visitor’s inside centre, Ali Burke, to make a major break into the home side’s territory. Within a few phases off this break the boys in red had crossed the whitewash with Ali getting the touch down. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the arrears had been reduced to 7-5.
Down High responded well following the restart and good defensive work saw Ballyclare concede a penalty which Charlie Power slotted over to put the home team into a 10-5 lead. However, the Down lead didn’t last for long. Yet another defensive error allowed Ali Burke another massive line break and subsequent yard gain which, despite an outstanding tackle by William Annett, eventually led to Dean Jones barging over the Down High School line where he touched down for a try under the posts. Ryan McIlwaine converted the try to put the Ballyclare High School team into a 12-10 lead. A few minutes later Charlie Power scored another penalty for Down High School after more solid work at the breakdown from Zac Ward and William Martin. Close to half time both teams missed points scoring opportunities which ensured it was the Down High School team that took their 13-12 lead into the break.

In the second half Down continued to be dominant up front but, more importantly, they also managed to resolve their defensive issues in the backline which ensured they consistently contained any further Ballyclare attacks. They did manage to score two more tries in the course of the second half. The first of these tries came from William Annett who, along with Marcus Graham, chased an excellent Johnny McCoubrey kick up field and was fortunate when the ball popped up following a tackle. Once the ball was in his hands he had a fairly straightforward run in for a try that Charlie Power had no problem converting to increase the Down High School lead to 20-12. Then, with ten minutes to go, Matthew Porter, who had put in a very convincing shift all day, crashed over on the back of some patient but dominant attacking play by the home side pack. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Down High School lead had increased to 25-12. The Ballyclare High School team did manage to create a couple of attacking opportunities towards the end of the game but the Down High School team thwarted their advances. This ensured it was the Down High School team that recorded their well-deserved 25-12 win at the end of the game.

Rainey Endowed School and Regent House School played out a 13-13 draw when the teams met in the quarter-final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield. Both teams started the game using hard, direct game plans with no quarter asked or given. The Regent team coughed up an early penalty which Lorcan Quinn converted to give the Rainey Endowed School team a 3-0 lead. The next ten minutes saw the Regent House team control both territory and possession. They exerted pressure on the Rainey defence and this pressure eventually led to Alex Hendrickse producing a moment of magic. A little show of the ball allied to some direct running gave him the space to cut through the defence, pin his ears back and score a try in the corner. The conversion attempt was unsuccessfull but the Regent House team now had taken a 5-3 lead. Regent were in total control and after more pressure from their attack Ali Deering powered over for an unconverted try from close range to increase their lead to 10-3. A mistake from the restart allowed Rainey Endowed control of the ball in the Regent House 22m area. Great Regent House defence was required but a lack of discipline handed Rainey a kick able penalty. Lorcan Quinn duly obliged and his successful kick reduced the Rainey Endowed deficit to 10-6. Then it was the turn of the Regent House attack to pressurize the Rainey Endowed defence into conceding a penalty. Adam Currie successfully converted the penalty to put the Regent House team into a 13-6 lead at the half time break.

The Rainey team started the second half displaying a more purposeful approach. A Regent House mistake in defence paved the way for Lorcan Quinn to run in for a try. Lorcan converted the try to draw the score level at 13-13. The Rainey team then lost three keys to minor injuries with Lorcan Quinn, Andrew Brown and Cameron Stewart all having to leave the field of play. Both defences were on top for the remainder of the game but the Regent team might have taken a win if a Robbie Johnston penalty had not drifted wide of the posts in the blast minute of the game. As it was, the game finished as a 13-13 draw with the replay set for Wednesday 24th February in Newtownards.

The Wallace High School captain, Jonny Stewart, celebrated his eighteenth birthday by successfully leading his team through their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield Quarter-Final game against their near neighbours from Friends’ School. The Wallace High School team won the game by 28-3. Jonny had an exceptional game for the Wallace High School team and put in a “Man of the Match” performance. He finished the game with two tries and four conversions to his name. The remaining Wallace High School points came from Toby Kerr and Jonny Hunter who scored one try apiece. The Friends’ School points came from a David Stewart penalty.

Foyle and Londonderry College hosted Coleraine Grammar School in the quarter-final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield and won the game by 31-10. The Foyle and Londonderry College team started the game well and took a 3-0 lead when Matthew Orr converted a penalty kick in the eighth minute. The overhead conditions were impacting on the game but Michael Crowe gave the Coleraine Grammar School team a 5-3 lead when he touched down for an unconverted try with twenty eight minutes on the clock. The Coleraine GS team took their 5-3 lead into the break.

The second half proved to be a livelier affair with the Coleraine GS team increasing their lead to 10-3 when Matthew Norris scored an unconverted try three minutes after the restart. A Conall Gill try, which was converted by Matthew Orr, brought the Foyle and Londonderry College team back into the game with the scoreline now reading 10-10 eleven minutes into the second half. Six minutes later George McKeag scored a try, which Callum Smith converted, to see the Coleraine Grammar School team into a 17-10 lead. With ten minutes remaining Peter Weisener scored a try, again converted by Callum Smith, which increased the Coleraine GS lead to 24-10. The final play of the game saw the Coleraine Grammar School team secure their 31-10 victory when Callum Smith scored a try which he converted.
George McKeag, Mac O’Neill, Michael Crowe and Matthew Norris all stood out for the Coleraine Grammar School team but it was the “Man of the Match” performance of Peter Weisener that really stood out in the course of the game.
There were two Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Bowl Semi-Final games played on Saturday 20th February.

It took a superhuman effort by staff, players and parents in Omagh to get the rain sodden Campsie Playing Fields ready to host the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Bowl Semi-Final game between Omagh Academy and Grosvenor Grammar School which the Grosvenor Grammar school team won by 12-7. The game kicked off in difficult conditions which saw both teams having difficulties in controlling any possession they did get. The Omagh pack seemed to adapt to the conditions more easily than the Grosvenor pack with Matthew Clyde and James Longwell carrying strongly. Initially, the Grosvenor defence thwarted the attacks but eventually the Omagh team got their reward. Nathan Sides turned the ball over in his 22m area and Fintan Lagan and Gary McCrossan linked to take play into the Grosvenor GS half. Kyle Beattie kicked to the corner and then Matthew Clyde took advantage of a great Omagh Academy maul from the resultant lineout to dot down for a try. Kyle Beattie added the conversion to see the Omagh Academy team into a 7-0 lead with twenty five minutes of the game gone. The Omagh Academy team held on to their 7-0 lead until the break.

The Grosvenor Grammar School had the wind in their favour in the second half. Props, James Cartlidge and Andrew Boyd, put pressure on the Omagh defence with some strong runs. The Omagh team conceded a penalty which was put into the corner. From the lineout Taylor Pollock broke away to touch down for an unconverted try to reduce the Grosvenor deficit to 7-5. The Grosvenor GS team dealt well with the restart kick and Mark Courtney drilled a well-aimed kick deep into the corner of the Omagh 22m area. The Omagh academy pack coughed up possession at the lineout and Stephen Hedley wasted no time in touching down to score a try. Adam Skelton added the conversion to put the Grosvenor Grammar School team into a 12-7 lead with just minutes remaining. The Omagh Academy team launched a series of attacks in the last few minutes but the Grosvenor Grammar School defence held tight. This defensive effort in the last few minutes of the game ensured a 12-7 win for the Grosvenor Grammar school team and, with that win, a place in the final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Bowl.

Portora Royal School hosted the Royal School, Armagh team in the semi-final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Bowl competition. The Portora Royal school team won the closely contested game by 17-14. The game was played on a wet and muddy Castle Lane pitch in front of an enthusiastic crowd of supporters. The Armagh team started well and asked questions of the Portora RS defence from the kick off. The Portora RS defence was resolute and the Co Fermanagh players were dominant at the breakdown. This dominance led to them getting a penalty which Connor Keys dispatched to give the Portora Royal School team a 3-0 lead. Then Jack Rutledge broke away from the restart and was stopped just short of the Royal School, Armagh line. The ball was quickly recycled and Robert Baloucoune finished the move off with a flourish. Connor Keyes added the conversion to see the Portora RS team into a 19-0 lead. The RS Armagh team came back strongly and with the final play of the first half Christopher Jennings touched down for a try. William Hazelton added the conversion to leave the Portora RS team with a 10-7 lead at the break.

The third quarter of the game saw the Royal School, Armagh team in control of possession. However, the Portora Royal School defence, with Connor Keyes and Robert Baloucoune in control, kept the Armagh attacks at bay. They turned Armagh possession over and Josh Kennedy, Andrew Crawford and Jack Rutledge combined to send Dylan Crawford in for a try. Connor Keyes added the extras to see the Portora team into a 17-7 lead. With the final play of the game William Hazxelton scored a try, which he converted, for the Royal School, Armagh team. The Portora Royal School team players were delighted to celebrate their hard-earned 17-14 victory at the end of the game.

The Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Bowl Final will be played on Wednesday 9th March when Grosvenor Grammar school will meet the Portora Royal School team at Royal School, Dungannon.
In the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Trophy Semi-Final Grosvenor Grammar School hosted Cambridge House Grammar School in a game the Cambridge House team won by 7-5. Cambridge House will now play Foyle and Londonderry College in the final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Trophy competition at Rainey Endowed School on Saturday 27th February.