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Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Round Up Saturday 24th January 2015

Monday, 26 January 2015

There were two Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Shield games, one Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 2ndxv Cup game, one Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 3rdxv Cup game, as well as one 1stxv friendly game, played during the week. These games were played prior to a full list of Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 games, Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy Quarter-Final games, two Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Shield games  and a number of senior friendly games on Saturday 24th January.

In the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Shield, the Royal School, Armagh team hosted the Royal School, Dungannon team in a game the Royal School, Armagh team won  by 13-7. Meanwhile, the Belfast Royal Academy Medallion team recorded a 22-0 victory against Regent House in the same competition. On Saturday 24th January Portadown College hosted the Limavady Grammar School Medallion in a game the Limavady team won by 12-7. Rainey Endowed School Medallion team recorded a 17-3 victory against Banbridge Academy.

In an U14 friendly game played on Saturday 24th January the Royal School, Armagh team hosted the Campbell College U14 team. The Royal School, Armagh team won the game by 35-0. Their standout player was Benjamin Boyd who controlled affairs well for the hosts as well as adding five conversions in the course of the game.

In the Danke Bank Ulster Schools’ 2ndxv Cup Ballyclare High School travelled to play Potora Royal School. The Ballyclare High School team returned home with a 29-3 victory.

In the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 3rdxv Cup the Royal Belfast Academical Institution 4thxv travelled to play Ballyclare Secondary School. The Ballyclare team played in a most committed fashion but there was little they could do to prevent the Royal Belfast Academical Institution team winning the game by 24-0.

The midweek friendly game took place at Osborne Park when the Royal Belfast Academical Institution team hosted Sullivan Upper in a game the Belfast Inst team won by 11-5. The Sullivan Upper squad had just returned from a Training Camp in Portugal and this was their first outing since their return. The Sullivan team was still missing a number of key regulars such as their dynamic Number 8, Fergus Jemphrey, talented full back, Jonny Betts, Stephen Brush and Luke Coulter. The Holywood boys did get a major boost when Zack Bertenshaw got a second half run out having recovered from a long term injury lay off. The Belfast Inst team had to play without the services of a number of key players, including their impressive Year 12 outhalf, Michael Lowry. In a most entertaining game it was the Belfast Inst team that started the stronger of the sides. Mark Keane finished off a flowing Inst backline attack by gathering a clever off-load from Jack Conlin and touching down for a try. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the home team had an early 5-0 lead. Further RBAI pressure led to the Sullivan Upper team giving away a penalty at the breakdown. TJ Morris converted the resultant penalty to increase the Belfast Inst lead to 8-0. The Sullivan Upper team started to gain the upper hand, in particular at scrum time. Conor McEvoy and Peter Copper in the Sullivan Upper front row were causing problems for the Inst pack. Gradually, the Sullivan Upper team started to gain something positive in terms of territory. They got onto the scoreboard when Michael Montgomery was awarded the touch down following a well-executed driven maul over the Belfast Inst line. The conversion kick was missed but the deficit had been reduced to 8-5 at the break.

The second half saw a game of “nip and tuck” develop. Both teams had opportunities to increase their points tally  with the ball in hand and off the tee! However, the defences held firm and there were no further tries scored. Both kickers had opportunities with penalty kicks but most went astray. That was apart from one. TJ Morris took advantage of some great work from the impressive Ethan Harbinson at the breakdown. The opposition were penalised for not releasing and TJ converted the penalty to ensure his Royal Belfast Academical Institution team won the game by 11-5.

There were eight Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup games, three Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy games, as well as a number of friendly games, played on Saturday 24th January.

On Friday 23rd January one Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy Quarter-Final game took place under the floodlights at Eaton Park., home of Ballymena RFC. Cambridge House entertained the Royal School, Dungannon team in a game which saw the Royal School team set out on the road towards defending the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy they won last season. They had to work extremely hard before eventually overcoming the not insignificant challenge provided by the competitive Cambridge House team by 6-3.

The game was played in front of an enthusiastic band of supporters all of whom added significantly to the occasion. The underfoot conditions were soft and this led to a forward orientated game which, at times, got scrappy. Both teams mounted some promising attacking phases in the course of the first half only to be let down by errors. The penalty count against both teams was high and the only scores in the first half came from the boot. John Buckley gave the RS Dungannon team a 3-0 lead with a well struck penalty only to have it cancelled out by the trusty boot of his Cambridge House counterpart, James Bovill. Near the end of the first half the visitors thought they had scored a try following a well-organised driven maul over the Cambridge House line. However, the referee spotted the ball was held up and the first Half finished with the score board reading 3-3.

The second half saw both teams trying to break through the opposition defensive alignments with the RS Dungannon team displaying a more positive approach. They did, at times, manage to breach the first line of defence only to be let down by the final pass or lack of support for the ball carrier. A mistake by the Cambridge House players at the breakdown presented the RS Dungannon captain, John Buckley, with the opportunity to convert a penalty. John did so successfully and put his team into a 6-3 lead with only minutes of the game remaining. The Cambridge House team mounted a series of attacks and were encamped on the RS Dungannon line. It took great defensive discipline by the visitors to thwart the Cambridge House charges but thwart them they did. The final whistle blew and it was the Royal School, Dungannon team that celebrated their hard earned 6-3 victory and, with it, a place in the draw for the semi-finals of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy.

Both schools would like to thank Ballymena Rugby Football Club for the provision of facilities and the hosting of the game.

Bangor Grammar School hosted the Dalriada team in the 2nd Round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup on Saturday 24th January. The game, which was played in front of an expectant crowd of supporters from both schools, ended with the Bangor Grammar School registering a hard earned 26-15 victory.

The Dalriada team started the game strongly with their pack dominating the set piece plays. The Bangor Grammar school team found themselves on the back foot as the Dalriada team laid siege on the Bangor Grammar School goal line. Then visitors got due reward for their early endeavours when they scored a try following a series of” pick and go” efforts with the impressive Alan Montgomery getting the touch down. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Dalriada team had opened up a 5-0 lead. The Bangor Grammar School team reacted strongly to this early set back but spurned an opportunity to reduce the deficit when a penalty kick attempt was unsuccessful. Both teams displayed the desire to play the game with the ball in hand. However, at this stage of the game, both defences proved unyielding and there were no further points scored in the first half which ensured the Dalriada team took their 5-0 lead into the break.

A few well-chosen words of advice from the Bangor Grammar School coaching staff during the interval seemed to spur their team into action in the opening stages of the second half.  The Bangor Grammar School pack was now competing on an equal basis with the Dalriada pack. Their 2nd Row forward, Adam Brennan, stormed in for a try, which was converted by full back, Jamie Fulton, to put his team into a 7-5 lead. The second half dominance of the Bangor pack was starting to wear the opposition down. The Bangor Grammar School centre and Head Boy, Robert Gamble, ran in for a try, which was converted by Jamie Fulton, to increase the Bangor GS lead to 14-5.  Back came the Dalriada team to pressurise the Bangor GS defence. They forced the home team into giving away a penalty and Aaron Sparks stepped up to convert the penalty kick to reduce the arrears to 14-8.

The Bangor GS team responded with a superb try when they counter attacked from their 22m area. Robert Gamble, who was enjoying a fine day in the centre, broke away and found his scrum half, Shaun Fair running a great support line. A clever inside pass from Robert found Shaun who ran in from the half way line to touch down for a try. Once again, Jamie Fulton was successful with the conversion to send his team into a 21-8 lead. The Dalriada team was not there just to make up the numbers. Denis Posternak took advantage of a lapse in the Bangor Grammar School defence and ran in for a fine try. Aaron Sparks converted the try to bring his Dalriada team back into the game with the score now reading 21-15 in favour of the home team. However, the final outcome was sealed for the Bangor Grammar School team when hard work from their pack presented Jonny Baxter with the opportunity to run in for an unconverted try. This score secured the 26-15 win for the Bangor Grammar School team at the end of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 2nd Round game.

The Carrickfergus Grammar School team continued to thrive with the label of being underdogs when they hosted the Belfast Royal Academy team at the North Road venue in the 2nd Round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. The Carrickfergus Grammar School team had built up a 17-3 lead by the interval before emerging as 17-8 winners at full time.

The home started brightly and had the opposition struggling to come to terms with the occasion in the early exchanges of the game. Christian Robinson ran in for a fine try, after just three minutes, when he outpaced a despairing Belfast Royal Academy defence to score a try under the posts. Marc Ellison added the extras to put the Carrickfergus Grammar School team into a 7-0 lead. This soon became 14-0 when the Belfast Royal Academy team was actually enjoying some possession as well as territory. An attack in the opposition 22m area fell apart when a rushed BRA pass was gleefully intercepted by the Carrickfergus GS full back, Fionn McCormack. Fionn took off from his 22m line and outran a number of BRA defenders to score a try close to their posts. Marc Ellison added the conversion to secure the deserved 14-0 lead. It might have become 21-0 only for a Carrickfergus GS attack to break down in the BRA in-goal area a few minutes later. The BRA team did get some first half points on the board when Michael Wilson converted a penalty opportunity following a rare visit to the Carrickfergus Grammar School 22m area. The successful kick reduced the deficit to 14-3. Just before the interval, the Carrickfergus team converted a penalty opportunity, when Marc Ellison split the posts, and took a 17-3 lead into the break.

The second half saw the BRA team come into the game with their pack emerging as the more dominant of the two. However, the BRA backline could find no way through a dogged Carrickfergus Grammar School defence. Jake Porter, Christian Robinson, David Carse, the Berry twins and Tom Gilpin got through a lot of work. There was little they could do to prevent the one score the BRA team got when their captain, David Reid, was awarded the touchdown following a well-executed driven maul over the Carrickfergus Grammar School line. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the BRA team were back in the game. Unfortunately for them that was as far as it went. The Carrickfergus team had the scent of victory in their nostrils and there was little the BRA team could do to change the inevitability of the final outcome. The no-side whistle blew and it was the Carrickfergus Grammar School team that celebrated their thoroughly well- deserved 17-8 victory at the end of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 2nd Round game.

Down High School and the Rainey Endowed School teams played their Danske Bank Ulster schools’ Cup 2nd Round game at Ballynahinch Rugby Club in a game the Down High School team recorded a comfortable 24-5 win. The Rainey Endowed School was not at full strength but this in no way detracted from the Down High School victory. Down High kicked off into the wind to start the game. It soon became apparent how strong the breeze was as the Rainey outhalf, Mark Rooney, used it to great effect to play his team deep into Down High territory. The visitors were first to score, on the five minute mark, when after a turnover at scrum, their inside centre, Rory Nicholl, took a pass before showing both pace and strength to run through the Down High defence and touch down. The conversion attempt drifted wide but the Rainey Endowed team had a 5-0 lead. Down High responded well and, within five minutes, scored a try. Zac Ward touched down when he broke from a maul following a five metre lineout. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the score board was now reading 5-5. As the half developed the Down High forwards began to show dominance both in the set piece and through some fantastic line-breaking runs. Indeed, their captain, Nathan Gibson , and young hooker, Clayton Milligan, both made carries that played their part in a try which was well finished by Zac Ward. Joe Bingham added the extras to give the Down High School team a 12-5 lead. The final score of the first half, and arguably one of Down High’s best of the season, came off a well worked lineout just outside the Rainey 22m line. Ultimately, Elliot Evans showed great decision making skills to sear through the Rainey defence and touchdown between the posts for a try. However, his efforts had been preceded by outstanding lineout work and great offloads out of the tackle by both Duncan Ross and Nathan Gibson. Joe Bingham had no problem adding the conversion leaving the half time score reading 19-5.

In the second half Down High, through the boot of Patrick Browne, who had stepped in to replace injured captain, Ross Carlisle, made the most of the strong wind to continually pin Rainey back into their own half. This, coupled with attention to detail and aggressive line speed in their defence, saw Down High contain any threat the battling Rainey side threw at them.

Despite the clear territorial advantage Down High had earned, their second half performance, both at set piece and in open play, wasn’t just as clinical as in the first half. As a result they were unable to add to their points tally until ten minutes from the end of the game.  Marcus Graham, who had shown great attacking intent several times throughout the game, crossed the whitewash in the corner. His try came off a solid scrum on the opposite side of the field, followed by a well worked backs move that got the home side over the gain-line. Then some neat handling from his colleagues put him away in space and he finished off the score. The conversion was missed but at that stage the result was beyond doubt. A few moments later the final whistle blew to the delight of the boys in green, and their large support, all of whom celebrated the Down High School 24-5 victory at the end of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 2nd Round game..

The Regent House team was made to work hard for their 22-10 victory by the Foyle and Londonderry College team w3hen the two teams met in the 2nd Round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. The Regent House team had the majority of the possession in the early stages of the game but they failed to turn this possession into points. A strong Foyle College defence, allied to the inability of the Regent attack to turn possession into points, ensured there were no points scored in the opening quarter of the game. Indeed, it was the Foyle College team that put the first points of the game on the score board. Twenty five minutes into the game a “Garryowen” from Alex McDonnell, the Foyle College captain, caused disarray in the Regent House defence. The ball was spilt and Robbie House latched on to the free possession provided. He outpaced the Regent House defence to touch down for a try. Alex McDonnell added the conversion and the Foyle and Londonderry College team had a 7-0 lead. The Regent House team responded in a positive manner with their pack leading the way. Just before the interval the pack produced quality possession that was well used by the backs. Taylor Nutt created the space before he off-loaded to Matthew Neill who finished with a try. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Regent House team had reduced the deficit to 7-5 at the interval.

The Regent House team dominated possession, as well as territory, for long periods in the second half. Team captain, Jonny Harris, set an example for his team when he ran in for a try early in the second period. Taylor Nutt added the extras to put the Regent House team into a 12-7 lead.  This became 17-7 when, a few minutes later, the Regent House Number 8, Alisdair Deering, broke clear to run in for an unconverted try. The Foyle College team then hit some form and took play deep into the Regent House territory. They came away with an Alex McDonnell penalty to reduce the deficit to 17-10. The pressure was on the Regent House team but they withstood the pressure and, close to the end of the game, sealed their hard earned victory. They took play into the Foyle and Londonderry College “Red Zone” and worked a play which finished with an unconverted try from Ryan McCarroll.  This was sufficient to ensure the 22-10 win for the Regent House at the end of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 2nd Round game.

Portadown College and Limavady Grammar School played out a thrilling Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 2nd Round Cup match which finished with the Limavady Grammar school team recording a 30-22 win. The Portadown College team started the game well and trook an early 3-0 lead when Niall Davidson was successful with a penalty kick. The Limavady Grammar School team responded in a positive manner and took play deep into Portadown College territory. They got rewarded for their hard work when Scott McLean converted a penalty to draw the sore level at 3-3. At this stage of the game the Portadown College team appeared sluggish in their approach. Limavady upped the pace and were in the ascendancy. Their pack was causing problems for the Portadown College team at set piece time while the Limavady Grammar School backs were thriving on the possession they were receiving. From a lineout, deep in Portadown College territory, the Limavady Grammar School team gained possession. The pack mauled the ball over the Portadown line and finished with a touch down from Jack Conor. Scott McLean added the conversion to put his team into a 10-3 lead. Shortly after this, the Limavady Grammar School lead was extended to 17-3 when quality ball from the pack was well used by the Limavady GS backs and Scott Patton touched down for a try which Scott McLean converted.  Scott McLean then converted a penalty to put his Limavady Grammar School, team into a 20-3 lead close to the break.  Good awareness from Niall Davidson pinned the opposition back close to their line. Possession was gained and a flowing backline attack was finished by Jordan Dowds who touched down for an unconverted try which reduced the deficit to 20-8 at the break.

The next score was going to be crucial! The Portadown College team started the second half strongly and a fine kick from Niall Davidson forced the Limavady GS team back deep in their half. Jacob McKeeman added to his growing reputation with try which was converted by Niall Davidson to reduce the arrears to 20-15. The game continued to flow with the backs from both teams looking more and more dangerous with the ball in hand. Mark Woods finished of a Limavady GS attack with an unconverted try to increase their lead to 25-15. Back came the Portadown College team with an effective interchange of play involving Michael Orr and Stewart Hodgen. Stewart finished with a try which Niall Davidson converted to leave the Limavady GS team in front by just 25-22 with ten minutes of the game remaining. Oliver Mullan then sealed the game for the Limavady Grammar School team when he ran in for an unconverted try close to the end of the game. That ensured a 30-22 win for the Limavady Grammar School team at the end of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 2nd Round game.

The Royal School, Armagh team hosted the Belfast High School team in a close fought Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 2nd Round game that ended with the RS Armagh team winning by 19-10. The first quarter of the game saw both teams sound each other out and there were no scores. That situation changed midway through the first half when the Belfast High School team scored an unconverted try to give them a 5-0 lead, a lead they held until the interval..

Early in the second half Chris Jennings, playing in his first Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup game, drew the score level at 5-5 when he touched down for an unconverted try. That score would have brought great memories back for his father, John, who scored a try for the Royal School, Armagh team in the 1977 Ulster Schools’ Cup Final!  Shortly after this the Belfast High School team had the opportunity to take the lead but a penalty attempt from Joel McBride hit the upright. The RS Armagh team stormed into a 12-5 lead when their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ team prop, Philip Matthews, trundled over the Belfast High School line to score a try. Michael Thompson added the conversion. Fifteen minutes later, a superb break from Matthew McSorley saw him outpace his opposite number cross the line for a try. Michael Thompson added the extras to see the RS Armagh team into a secure 19-5 lead. The RS Armagh coaching staff then replaced some key players and gave all their replacement players the opportunity for some game time. With the last play of the game James Creighton touched down for an unconverted try for the Belfast High School team. However, when the final whistle blew it was the Royal School, Armagh team that celebrated their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 2nd Round victory.

The Portora Royal School team was looking forward to reversing an early season set back against Banbridge Academy when they welcomed the Co Down team to Enniskillen for their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 2nd Round game, and reverse they did winning the game by 6-0. The Portora Royal School side started the match on the front foot with Adam Lendrum pinning the Banbridge Academy team back into their own half with his boot. The pressure paid off and Portora were awarded an early penalty which Adam Lendrum converted to put his team into a 3-0 lead with only a couple of minutes on the clock. Both teams played some attacking rugby with Jay Pinion and Ben Carson leading the way for the Banbridge Academy team. However, the defensive effort from both sides was tremendous there were no further first half points which ensured the Portora Royal School team took their 3-0 lead into the halftime break.

The home side kept the pressure on in the second half and enjoyed a territorial advantage for long periods of time. The Portora RS pack of forwards put in some sterling work and were held just short from scoring a superb try midway through the second period.. The pressure eventually paid off and Adam Lendrum converted a penalty opportunity to leave the score reading 6-0 in favour of his Portora team going in to the final few minutes of the game. The restart was gathered and, once more, the home team kept the pressure on ensuring the visiting team could not get out from their own half of the pitch. The defensive effort from the whole team, as well as some fantastic ball carrying by the forwards, saw the Portora side well deserved 6-0 winners over Banbridge Academy at the end of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 2nd Round game.

The Grosvenor Grammar School, team hosted Omagh Academy in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 2nd Round game at the Cameronian Drive venue. The Omagh Academy team, playing their first Danske Bank Ulkster Schools’ game of the season,  won the game by 20-5 but it was the Grosvenor GS team that got the first points on the board. The Omagh Academy team started well and caused problems for the Grosvenor GS team with their well-organised driven maul tactic. The Grosvenor GS defence stood strong and eventually they turned Omagh Academy possession over which enabled them to clear their line. They were awarded a series of penalties which took them close to the Omagh Academy line. A well-organised Grosvenor Grammar School lineout move ended with Andrew Boyd crossing the Omagh line to touch down for an unconverted try to give his team a 5-0 lead. Omagh recovered and grew into the game from that point on, They quickly regained possession and put Grosvenor under a great deal of pressure. This resulted in the home side conceding a penalty which was taken quickly and recycled well. Adam Stephenson broke through the Grosvenor Grammar School defence to touch down for an unconverted try and pull the score back to 5-5.  There were no further scores in the remainder of the first half.

The second half began where the first half left off with Omagh Academy managing to pin the home side back into their 22m area. Once again, the Grosvenor GS defence wilted under the pressure and they conceded another penalty. Stuart Ballentine stepped up to convert the penalty kick successfully and give the visitors an 8-5 lead. This gave Omagh Academy the confidence to attack with the ball in hand. This approach was rewarded with an unconverted try from Andrew Monteith to give his team a 13-5 lead. Then Adam Stephenson touched down for his second try of the game. Stuart Ballentine converted the try to increase the Omagh Academy lead to 20-5 which was how it remained until the end of the game. This Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 2nd Round victory by the Omagh Academy team was built around the performance of their pack where Josh McKinley managed the lineout to perfection! James Longwell excelled in the loose and he was well assisted by Matthew Clyde and Ethan McKeown both of whom put in strong performances. Stuart Ballantine managed the game well from the outhalf position. He got great support from Andrew Monteith and Adam Stephenson in the centre positions.

As well as the eight Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 2nd Round matches, there were three Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy games played on Saturday 24th January.

Lurgan College hosted a very committed Strabane Academy team that put on a very spirited performance before they succumbed to a 34-0 defeat. The Lurgan College team scored six tries in the game, two of which were converted. While the Lurgan College pack laid the foundations for the win it was the performance of Ryan Osbourne that really caught the eye. Ryan had been out of action for three months and really relished in the opportunities this game provided. James Mitchell, Ryan Emerson and Stephen Logan grabbed first half tries for the Lurgan College team. Scott Wilson added one conversion to give his team a 17-0 lead at the interval.

This pattern was replicated in the second half with Stephen Logan scoring a second try and Victor Makensie and Scott Wilson touching down for one apiece. Scott added one conversion to secure the 34-0 win for his Lurgan College team at the end of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy Quarter-Final game.

Wellington College hosted Friends’ School, Lisburn in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy Quarter-Final game. In a very close game, the Friends’ School team emerged as 11-10 winners.

Wellington College started the game brightly and took a 5-0 lead when they scored an unconverted try in the corner straight from the kick off. Having gone behind so early in the game, things weren’t looking good for the Lisburn side. However, after some spells of good attacking rugby, Friends’ won themselves a penalty on the Wellington 22m area. The penalty was converted by James McGucken to put Friends’ on the scoreboard and reduce the deficit to 5-3. Friends’ now looked the brighter of the two sides with most of the rugby being played in the Wellington half. Wellington found themselves with a lineout deep in their half. The ball was won and given to their out half. The Friends’ School 2nd Row forward, Gareth Hill, managed to charge down the attempted clearance kick which allowed fellow his fellow 2nd Row colleague, Bart Campbell, to dive on the ball and score a try. The conversion went just wide but the Friends’ School team now had an 8-5 lead. With Friends’ in the lead, things looked to be going their way, That was until the Wellington College hooker showed some blistering pace down the wing. He confused two Friends’ School defenders before going over in the corner for an unconverted try to put the Wellington College team into a 10-8 lead at halftime.

The second half saw both teams contest the game on an equal footing. As time wore on Wellington found themselves encamped in the Friends’ 22m area for a good period of time. Try as they might, they could not get the points to extend their lead. With ten minutes to go, Friends’ got themselves a penalty on the Wellington 10m line. James McGucken stepped up and calmly slotted the kick home to give the Friends’ School team the narrowest of leads with the scoreboard reading 11-10. Wellington were now running out of time but couldn’t break the Friends’ defence. Wellington had a series of scrums but, thanks to a resistant Friends’ School pack, they could not capitalise. With thirty seconds to go Wellington won a penalty and sent the ball into the corner, The Friends’ forwards disrupted the line out and the ball fell into the hands of the Friends’ School captain, Steven Kay. Steven sent the ball well out of touch to send the Lisburn team into the semi-finals of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy with their hard earned 11-10 victory.

Antrim Grammar School and Larne Grammar school played out an exciting 13-13 draw when the teams met in the Quarter-Final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy.  The Larne Grammar School team got the game of to a good start and took an early 6-0 lead when Calum McKay was successful with two penalty opportunities. The Antrim Grammar School team responded in a very positive manner and took the game to the Larne team. This positive approach paid dividends when their fullback, Ben McKnight, burst through a gap in the Larne Grammar School defence to touch down for a try. The try was not converted but the Antrim team had reduced the arrears to 6-5, which was how the scoreline remained for the rest of the first half.

The Antrim Grammar School team maintained their attacking approach in the opening stages of the second half. Unfortunately, they turned over critical possession and the Larne Grammar school team took full advantage. Jonathan Glasgow outwitted the home defence to run in for a try. Calum McKay added the conversion to increase the Larne Grammar School lead to 13-5. The Antrim Grammar School team regained their focus and took play deep into Larne Grammar School territory. A series of lineouts took place and Daniel McGrandles forced his way over the Larne line to score a try. The conversion was missed but the Antrim team was back in the game with the score at 13-10 and just five minutes on the clock. Further pressure on the Larne Grammar School defence resulted in an Antrim Grammar School penalty. Sam Gordon stepped up and coolly slotted the kick to secure the 13-13 draw at the end of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy Quarter-Final game. The replay has been scheduled for Larne Grammar School on Wednesday 28th January with a 2-30pm kick off.

Following the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup and Trophy games, the draws for the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy Semi-Finals, the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Bowl Quarter-Finals and the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 3rd Round Games took place at Carrickfergus Grammar School.

The draws were conducted by Mr Robert McCullough, representing the Danske Bank, and Chris Webster, the Ulster Rugby Domestic Manager. The results of the draws were as follows:-

Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy Semi-Finals

  • Friends’ School, Lisburn v Lurgan College
  • Royal School Dungannon  v Antrim Grammar School / Larne Grammar School

Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Bowl Quarter-Finals

  • Dalriada School v Grosvenor Grammar School
  • Banbridge Academy v Portadown College
  • Foyle and Londonderry College v Belfast High School
  • Rainey Endowed School v Belfast Royal Academy

Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 3rd Round

  • Portora Royal School v Wallace High School
  • Ballymena Academy v Methodist College, Belfast
  • Down High School v Coleraine Academical Institution
  • Ballyclare High School v Bangor Grammar School
  • Limavady Grammar School v Royal School, Armagh
  • Royal Belfast Academical Institution v Regent House
  • Sullivan Upper v Campbell College, Belfast
  • Carrickfergus Grammar School v Omagh Academy

All these games are scheduled to take place on Saturday 7th February.

 

 

Two non-Ulster Schools’ Cup matches took place on Saturday 24th January.

Ballymena Academy hosted Methodist College, Belfast in a very close encounter from which the Methodist College team emerged as 22-20 winners. In an entertaining and fast-paced game, both teams enjoyed sustained periods of territorial domination. After fifteen minutes, Methodist College opened the scoring in typical fashion when their pack powered over from close range with Ben O’Reilly scoring the try. Robert Lyttle added the conversion to give his team a 7-0 lead. Robert then, ten minutes later increased the Methody lead to 10-0 with a well-struck penalty. Ballymena Academy rallied and full back, Dean Reynolds, beat several defenders, including a member of the MCB staff, on his way to scoring below the posts. Andrew Magrath’s conversion made the score 10-7. Methody gathered the ball from the restart and a Gareth Millar chip over the Ballymena backs saw Ali McIvor win the ball in the air and touch down below the posts. Robert Lyttle’s successful conversion increased the Methodist College lead to 17-7 at the interval.

The second half started with Methody further increasing their lead. An outstanding run out of defence by Robert Lyttle culminated with a clever off-load for Connor Kelly to score a try in the corner. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Methody lead had increased to 22-7. The remainder of the match was dominated by the home team. Ballymena turned down the chance of an easy penalty below the posts and were unsuccessful with their attempt to score quickly. Shortly afterwards, Marcus Rea muscled his way over the line to bring the score to 22-12.  Andrew Magrath missed the conversion, but added a penalty soon afterwards to make the score 22-15. With five minutes left on the clock, Andrew Magrath scored a try to reduce the deficit to two points. Unfortunately, the conversion was missed and the score remained 22-20 in favour of the Methodist College team until the end of the game.

Coleraine Academiocal Institution hosted Campbell College, Belfast in a game where both teams used extended squads as the coaches from both schools look towards finalising their squads for their forthcoming Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup games. The game was played over three twenty five minute periods. Coleraine AI won the first period 5-0, scoring a well worked try through full back Matthew Smyth. In this period, Matthew Norris, Alastair Corbett and Bruce Campbell impressed. Both teams made a number of changes for the second period which allowed the coaches to cast their eye over some fringe players. Some excellent performances from Gabriel Mawhinney, Andy Moore and Johnny Booth on the Coleraine AI team ensured the score in this period was 0-0. In the final session Coleraine AI conceded two tries, neither of which were converted, to leave the Campbell College team emerging as 10-5 winners at the end of the useful exercise.