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Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Round Up Saturday 22nd March 2014

Monday, 24 March 2014

The Friends’ School Senior Rugby squad went on an end of season tour, with David Wells Tours, to Paris. They played two games and went to the Stade de France to witness the exciting climax to the RBS Six Nations Championship when the Ireland team recorded their 22-20 victory against the French to be crowned Six Nations Champions.

The first tour game was played against the Noisy-Le-Sec RFC U19 team and the Friends’ School team recorded an impressive 22-8 win. This game was seen as having an historic significance as it was the first time the Noisy-Le-Sec Club had ever hosted a team from outside France. The local Mayor was in attendance to open the game! The Friends’ School team started well and scored an unconverted try through Peter Simpson early in the game. Peter took advantage of some good interplay, involving both forwards and backs, before he touched down for the try to give his team a 5-0 lead.

The Noisy-Le-Sec team responded positively and scored an unconverted try despite the defensive efforts of Kyle Andrews and Russsell Dickson in the Friends’ midfield. This took the score to 5-5 and there were no further scores in the course of the first half.

The start of the second half saw the Friends’ School team take control of both territory and possession. After good work from Steven Kay, as well as a number of phase plays, James McGucken barged his way over for an unconverted try to put the Lisburn boys into a 10-5 lead. The deficit was reduced to 10-8 a few minutes later when the Noisy-Le-Sec outhalf converted a penalty opportunity following a Friends’ School indiscretion at the breakdown. From this stage on it was all Friends’ School. Kyle Andrews capped a fine display with a try which was converted by Zac Finlay to put the Friends’ School team into a 17-8 lead. The Friends’ team secured their win when Mark Dodds ran in for an unconverted try to see his team into a 22-8 lead, a lead they held until the end of the game.

Following the game the entire Friends’ School squad was entertained in a most hospitable manner by the Noisy-Le-Sec Club before the Tour Party departed for the Stade de France to witness the France v Ireland game.

In the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 2ndxv Plate competition Down High School defeated Dalriada School by 23-5. The Down High School team will now travel to play Coleraine Academical Institution the semi-final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 2ndxv Plate. The Coleraine AI team travelled to play Limavady Grammar School and recorded a 36-7 victory in their quarter-final game.



The week beginning Monday 17th March saw three Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Finals take place.

The “Blue Riband” of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ season took place at Ravenhill on Monday 17th March when Methodist College, Belfast contested the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Final with Sullivan Upper School.

Methodist College beat Sullivan Upper 27-12 to seal a third consecutive Danske Bank Schools’ Cup success, their 37th in the history of the competition.

They scored five tries in all, including a first half brace from centre Conor McKee, to gain victory over a Sullivan team who were appearing in their first ever final.

Methody looked stronger early on and their formidable pack worked their way through a number of solid phases in the Sullivan 22m area. Scrumhalf, Frazer Wallace, eventually released the ball to Josh Bingham, who fed his Ireland U19s colleague Conor McKee to crash over underneath the posts. Josh Bingham converted to give his Methody team an early 7-0 lead.

Conor McKee added a second shortly after this when he intercepted a loose Sullivan Upper pass and darted in from 40 metres out to touch down. Josh Bingham was unable to add the extras but his side now had a 12-0 lead with little over 15 minutes on the clock.

Sullivan then hit back with a well worked try from winger, Chris Jordan. The move was initiated when Mark Adair sent his impressive captain, Ross Todd, through a gap in midfield and his strength brought play into the opposition 22m area. The ball was quickly recycled and loose forward, Dave Cave, sent Chris clear to dive in on the left hand side. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Sullivan Upper team was back in the game with the deficit reduced to 12-5

However, that 12-5 scoreline didn’t last long as Methody, playing their best rugby of the competition thus far, responded with a third try just before the break. Alastair McIvor crossed for an unconverted score following a superb break from Josh Bingham who exposed defensive lapses in the opposition backline.

Half time score: Methodist College 17 Sullivan Upper 5

The Holywood schoolboys showed much more urgency at the start of the second half and were rewarded shortly after the restart. Michael Cartmill and Mark Adair combined brilliantly to find fullback, Johnny Betts, in space. Jonny finished of a flowing move when he made his way over the whitewash. Mark Adair converted the try to reduce the arrears to 17-12.

However, Methody regained control with a long period of possession and territory in the Sullivan half. That spell included a driving maul from which Ben O’Reilly broke free and produced a sublime offload for Zach Jordan to cross in the left hand corner. Josh Bingham missed the conversion but his team now held a ten point advantage with the score at 22-12.

Methody showed their ruthlessness with a clinical fifth try in the last play of the game. A neat set move from a scrum saw the ball move through the hands of Saul Herdman, Frazer Wallace and Conor Kelly, allowing Rory Cairns a simple run in.

That score sealed a 37th Danske Bank Schools’ Cup success for Methody and captain, Michael Lagan, was presented with the trophy by Lynne Robinson, wife of Ulster Branch President John Robinson, in front of the jubilant fans.

Credit must be given to Ross Todd and his Sullivan Upper teammates, along with Willie Anderson and the rest of the Sullivan coaching staff, for contributing significantly to the tournament.

Final score: Methodist College 27 Sullivan Upper 12

(15-9): C Kelly; R Cairns, A McIvor, C McKee, J Jordan; J Bingham, F Wallace;
(1-8): B O’Reilly, S Weir, M Lagan (capt), A Livingstone, A Thompson; C Boomer, M McKinney, S Herdman;
(16-23): J McCreanor, D Coulter, A Kilpatrick, R Cullen, Z Jordan, J McCollum, W Diamond, G Millar.

(15-9): J Betts; C Jordan, D McMaster, M Cartmill, R Spence; M Adair, C McEwan;
(1-8): C McEvoy, M Crockford, C Griffiths, M Clarke, J Davidson, D Cave, A Baillie, R Todd (capt);
(16-23): J Houston, C Jeffrey, P Cooper, F Jemphrey, Z Berthenshaw, H Harper, D Gilbert, M Nesbitt.

The Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield Final was played on Wednesday 19th March at the Shaw’s Bridge Sports Complex when North Antrim rivals, Ballymena Academy and Dalriada, contested the game.

Dalriada School scored a try in each half to secure a 12-3 win over Ballymena Academy in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield Final.

Playing with a strong wind at their backs in the first half, Dalriada enjoyed a fine start to the game. The Ballymoney boys looked to play with width and outside centre, Peter Dunlop, made a couple of early breaks.

They continued to pressurise the Ballymena defence and, despite butchering a number of try scoring opportunities, they were rewarded for that good spell with an unconverted try from right wing, Matthew Lochart. The Dalriada team remained in attack mode but could not find a way through the Ballymena Academy defence. Knowing that the elements would have a major impact on the outcome of the game, Dalriada pushed for a second score before half time but a combination of poor handling and excellent Ballymena defence ensured the scoreline remained 5-0 going into the break.

As expected, Ballymena then enjoyed long periods of the game on the front foot, but they too struggled to convert pressure into points on more than a few occasions. They did, however, manage to reduce the deficit to 5-3 when Andrew Magrath converted a penalty opportunity five minutes after the restart.

Those missed opportunities proved costly as Dalriada winger Robert Hunter collected the ball in his own 22m area and made great ground before supplying an inside pass to their impressive fullback, Michael Finnerty, who touched down under the posts. Captain, Timmy Emerson added the simple extras to extend his side’s lead to 12-3.

Ballymena tried to respond late on  with Andrew Magrath, Marcus Rea, Jonny Rosborough  and skipper, Duncan Maguire,  looking the most likely to spark something. However, it was all to no avail as the Dalriada defence held out.

That meant David Dougherty’s well organised side sealed the win and took home the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield which was presented by Mr John Robinson, President of the Ulster Branch of the IRFU. He was assisted in the presentation ceremony by Mrs Carol Wilson, representative of the Danske Bank sponsors.

The last of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Finals took place at the Belfast Royal Academy playing fields at Roughfort on Thursday 20th March when Coleraine Academical Institution met Banbridge Academy in the final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Plate.

This was an exciting game with the final scoreline reflecting the effort and skills displayed by both teams. The Coleraine Academical Institution team won by 24-21 but the Banbridge Academy team made a huge contribution to the game. The Banbridge team controlled a lot of the possession, as well as the territory, in the opening exchanges of the game. However, it was the Coleraine AI team that took the lead midway through the first half when their outside centre, Daniel McCreadie, took advantage of a gap in the Banbridge midfield to run in for a fine try. Coleraine AI captain, Zach Hutchinson converted the try to secure the 7-0 lead.  Eight minutes later, the Banbridge Academy out half, Ben Thompson, scored a fine individual try, which he converted, to draw the game level at 7-7. This was followed quickly by a Ben Thompson penalty to put the Banbridge team into a 10-7 lead. Just before the interval Jordan Mount, the Banbridge scrum half, squeezed in at the corner for an unconverted try, to give his team a 15-7 half time lead.

Ten minutes into the second half, the accurate boot of Ben Thompson increased the Banbridge lead to 18-7 when he was successful with another penalty kick. The Coleraine AI team responded positively to reduce the Banbridge lead when Jack Kilgore ran in for a try. Zach Hutchinson converted the try to reduce the deficit to 18-14. From the restart, the Coleraine AI team took advantage of some hesitation in the Banbridge Academy defence and Glen Scroggie touched down for a try. Zach Hutchinson converted from the touchline to put his Coleraine AI team into a 21-18 lead. The spirited Banbridge team were not daunted by this setback and took place deep into Coleraine AI territory. The Coleraine AI team was penalised at the breakdown and Ben Thompson drew the game level at 21-21 with another well struck penalty kick. With time running out it was the Coleraine AI kicker, Zach Hutchinson, who had the final say in the outcome of the game. Zach slotted a penalty kick between the uprights to secure a hard earned 24-21 victory for his Coleraine AI team when the final whistle sounded.

After game, Barney McGonigle , representing the Ulster Schools’ Rugby Committee, congratulated both teams on their performances, thanked the Principal and staff at Belfast Royal Academy for use of their fine facilities and hosting the game, thanked the Danske Bank for their continued sponsorship of Ulster Schools’ Rugby and thanked James Rialton and his team of officials for the way in which they controlled the game. He then presented the medals to both squads. Mr Chris McCarey, former Ireland U19 World Cup winner and coach of the Belfast Royal Academy 1stxv, then presented the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Plate to the captain and match winner for the victorious Coleraine AI team, Zach Hutchinson.

In the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 2ndxv Cup quarter-final game, Wallace High School defeated Methodist College by 15-5. The Wallace High School team will now play Royal Belfast Academical Institution in the semi-final on Wednesday 26th March at the Clonevin Park venue.

Ballymena Academy hosted Campbell College, in the first of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 2ndxv Cup semi-finals, on Saturday 22nd March. The Campbell College team won the game by 15-6.

In the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 2ndxv Plate quarter-final, Foyle and Londonderry College defeated Carrickfergus Grammar School by 21-7. The Foyle and Londonderry College team will now travel to play Omagh Academy in the semi-final of the Danke Bank Ulster Schools’ 2ndxv Plate.

Meanwhile, in the first of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 2ndxv Plate semi-finals, Coleraine Academical Institution defeated Down High School by 18-10.

In the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 3rdxv Cup semi-final, Belfast Royal Academy lost by 43-7 against Methodist College, Belfast. The Methodist College team will now play the winners of the Royal Belfast Academical Institution v Wallace High School semi-final in the final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 3rdxv Cup. The RBAI v Wallace HS semi-final will be played at Osborne Park on Monday 24th March at 4-00pm.

In the Down High Year 8 Tournament which, because of on-going pitch treatment works at Down High School, was hosted by Grosvenor Grammar School. Twelve Year 8 A+B teams participated in the tournament. The Friends’ School “A” team recorded wins against Down High School, Grosvenor Grammar School and Bangor Grammar School. The final game in this section of the tournament was an all Lisburn affair in which Wallace High School “A” team defeated the Friends’ School “A” team by 7-5. In the other section of the tournament, the Friends’ School “B” team lost narrowly against Wellington College but defeated teams from Grosvenor Grammar School and Regent House. This set up meeting with the Down High School “A” team in the final with the Friends’ School “B” team winning a closely contested game by 12-10.

A number of teams took the opportunity to travel to Scotland for end of season tours and take in the Ulster Pro 12 game at Murrayfield.  Banbridge Academy, Cambridge House, Carrickfergus Grammar School and Friends’ School, Lisburn all had teams supporting the Ulster team in Edinburgh.

The Friends’ School U14 and Medallion teams played fixtures against Glasgow Academy and Royal High School, Edinburgh. The Friends’ School U14 team defeated their Glasgow Academy counterparts by 57-7 while the Medallion recorded an impressive points tally in the game against the Glasgow team.

The tour party moved on to Edinburgh where they met up with the Royal High School teams in the leafy suburbs of Crammond in the capital city. The U14 team had to work hard for their 31-12 victory with Bradley Mulholland, Leon Eley, Ross Stewart and David Stewart all running in tries.

The Medallion team was pushed hard by their Royal High School opposition before finishing with a deserved 17-12 victory. The try scorers in this game were David Newell, Niall McCabe and Curtis Dundas.

The Friends’ School coach, Ivor Monaghan, and his players would like to thank the Glasgow Academy and Royal High School teams for the games. A word of thanks goes to Friends’ School Old Scholar, Dr Colin McKelvey, an official of the Scottish Rugby Union, for his assistance throughout the tour.