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Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Round Up Saturday 9th January 2016

Monday, 11 January 2016

There were several Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Shield matches, as well as one Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 3rdxv Plate match and two midweek 1stxv friendly games, played in the lead up to seven Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup matches, as well as a list of friendly fixtures, played on Friday 8th and Saturday 9th January. There was also one Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Shield match and one Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 3rdxv Cup match played on Saturday 9th January.

Three Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Shield games were played on Tuesday 5th January. Banbridge Academy defeated Antrim Grammar School by 27-0. Regent House defeated preliminary round winners, Wellington College, by 55-7 while Lurgan College lost to Larne Grammar School by 26-17.
Belfast High School played Omagh Academy in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Shield on Wednesday 6th January in a game the Omagh Academy team won by 34-7.
In the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 3rdxv Cup competition Sullivan Upper defeated Dalriada School by 29-0. Sullivan Upper will now play Royal Belfast Academical Institution 3rdxv in the quarter-final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 3rdxv Cup.

In a re-arranged 1stxv friendly game played on Wednesday 6th January Bangor Grammar School defeated Down High School by 12-9. The Down High School team was still missing one or two key players from their back division but they did manage to build up a 9-0 lead in the opening stages of the game when Charlie Power was successful with three penalty kicks. Close to the interval the Bangor Grammar School team scored an unconverted try through Matthew Agnew to reduce the arrears to 9-5 at the break.
Bangor GS missed an early penalty opportunity at the start of the second period of play but it was not long before they scored the decisive try. Tight Head prop, Martin Withers, took advantage of good work from his forwards to touch down for the try. Zack Kerr was successful with the conversion kick to see the Bangor GS team into a 12-9 lead. The Down High School team might have snatched a draw in the closing stages of the game but a penalty kick opportunity fell short. This ensured it was the Bangor Grammar School team that finished the game as 12-9 winners.
Royal Belfast Academical Institution made the long journey to Cork on Wednesday 6th where they played Presentation Brother’s College, Cork. The Belfast Inst team put on a superb performance and, as a result, came away with an impressive 17-3 victory under their belts.

After warming up in perfect conditions the Irish winter returned with the game kicking off in wet and windy conditions. The Presentation Brother’s team started the stronger and although they dominated the first fifteen minutes of the game the Belfast Inst defence held on. The Belfast Inst team then got a foothold in the match and it was their “Man of the Match” winger, Mark Keane, who got the first score when he finished off a move in the left corner after a superb break down the middle of the pitch from their mobile prop, John Dickson. The try was not converted but the Belfast Inst team had taken a 5-0 lead. Both teams continued to pressure each other for the remainder of the half but the score remained 5-0 in favour of the visitors at half time.

The second half Belfast Inst were put into strong positions with some good tactical kicking and game management skills from half backs, Michael Lowry and Niall Armstrong. It was then through some continued pressure in the Pres Cork 22m area that resulted in a penalty try being awarded which James Hume converted to increase the Belfast Inst lead to 12-0. The Pres Cork team then had a period of sustained pressure and they were rewarded with a penalty, which they converted, to reduce the deficit to 12-3. The Royal Belfast Academical Institution team then hit straight back with some enterprising counter- attacking play. One such attack was finished off by captain, Conor Field, who scorched in for an unconverted try to secure the deserved 17-3 victory for his team.

This fixture has been played on an annual basis over a long period of time. This win was the first Royal Belfast Academical Institution success since 1997.
On Thursday 7th January Cambridge House played Friends’ School, Lisburn in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Shield game. The match finished as an 8-8 draw. The replay will take place on Tuesday 12th January at 2-45pm. The winners will travel to play Ballymena Academy on Saturday 16th January.
The first of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 1 games took place on Friday 8th January when Cambridge House Grammar School played Limavady Grammar School under the floodlights at Eaton Park, home of Ballymena Rugby Football Club.

On a perfect evening for a game of rugby a huge crowd gathered to witness a first class game which the Limavady Grammar School team eventually won by 27-13. The Cambridge House team started well and took an early 3-0 lead when James Bovill converted a penalty opportunity with a superb strike from the touchline. The Limavady Grammar School team recovered quickly from this early setback and took a 7-3 lead when Mark Woods took advantage of good handling skills from his backs to finish off with a try in the corner. Jim McCartney added the conversion. Minutes later a Jim McCartney penalty extended the Limavady Grammar School lead to 10-3. The Limavady team was now in the ascendancy and controlling territory and possession. The home team conceded a penalty close to their line and the Limavady team set out their intentions when they kicked the penalty into the corner. The resultant lineout was won and the subsequent driven maul was finished off when Gurpatap Sandhu touched down for a try. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Limavady Grammar School team took a 15-3 lead into the halftime break.

The Cambridge House team started the second half strongly and took play deep into Limavady territory. A Limavady infringement was punished when James Bovill was successful with his second penalty of the night to peg the score board back to 15-6. Limavady GS then played their way back down the pitch and set up camp in the Cambridge House 22m area. A series of well-constructed phase plays finished when David Mullen scored an unconverted try to increase the Limavady lead to 20-6. From the restart the game swung to the other end of the pitch. Sam Millar, the impressive Cambridge House centre, broke through the Limavady GS defence and ran a great line to finish off with a try under the opposition posts. James Bovill added the conversion to reduce the arrears to 20-13. The last ten minutes of the game saw both teams raise the level of excitement by attacking at every opportunity. The Cambridge House team looked as if they were about to score only to see a loose pass intercepted. Mark Woods ran the length of the pitch to score a try and put his team into a 25-13 lead. Jim McCartney added the extras to secure the winning 27-13 victory for the Limavady Grammar School team.

Both teams, as well as their enthusiastic supporters, would like to thank Ballymena Rugby Football Club for the use of facilities and hosting this very entertaining Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 1 game which was described by one eminent spectator from the Ballymena Rugby Club as being a great example of schoolboy rugby in the Province.

The remaining six Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 1 games all survived the horrendous weather conditions which hit some of the venues on Saturday 9th January.
The Larne Grammar School game against Royal School, Armagh was one such game with the conditions impacting on both sets of players. There was no shortage of determination and passion from either side but it was the RS Armagh team that dealt with the conditions more effectively. They won the game by 10-3 but the Larne Grammar School team made them work hard for their win. The first half saw the Royal School, Armagh team control both possession and territory for long periods of time. However, they were somewhat naïve in their approach and this played into the hands of a resilient Larne Grammar School defence with Barry McFaul, Adam Maguire, team captain Alistair Black and Matthew Magarel getting through a lot of work. The Larne Grammar were dogged any time they got possession and this doggedness was rewarded when Jonny Hyndman converted a penalty kick opportunity to give his team a 3-0 lead. As the weather conditions deteriorated both team found it difficult to control any possession they did manage to get. This ensured there were no further scores in the course of the first half and the Larne Grammar School team took their 3-0 lead into the break.

The second period of play saw the Royal School, Armagh team adapt their style of play to the conditions. The ball stayed closer to their pack and they started to take positive control of the possession they were getting. A clever move on the short side of a ruck was finished off with a try from their industrious prop, Jack Chapman. The difficult conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the RS Armagh team had taken a 5-3 lead. Further good control of possession took the RS Armagh team deep into the Larne GS 22m area. Once again the home defence proved to be dogged but there was little they could to prevent Archie McAlpine trundling over the Larne Grammar School whitewash following a series of “pick and go” drives from the RS Armagh pack for whom their hooker, Matthew Kilic, put in a “Man of the Match” performance. Archie touched down for an unconverted try to give his team a 10-3 lead. The Larne Grammar School mounted a series of challenges on the Royal School, Armagh line in the final few minutes of the game and thought they might have had the opportunity to draw the game only for what looked like a Jonny Hyndman intercept try to be disallowed. However, despite playing with real heart and passion, they could find no way through which was enough to ensure it was the Royal School, Armagh team that celebrated their hard earned victory at the end of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 1 match.

It was a case of a game of two halves when the Co-Armagh derby Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 1 game, featuring Lurgan College and Portadown College, took place at the Lough Road venue. Played in front of an enthusiastic crowd of spectators it was the Portadown College team that emerged eventually as 7-3 winners. The weather conditions were not at all favourable for either team at the start of the game. The Lurgan College team started off well and controlled territory and possession for long periods of time. The Portadown College team was on the back foot and looked very nervous in the early exchanges. The Lurgan College team, with their backrow trio of Mark Montgomery, Victor MacKenzie and the impressive Reuben McCreery getting through a lot of work, sat for long periods of time close to the opposition 22m but could not find any through the Portadown scramble defence. Fifteen minutes into the game The Lurgan College team took a deserved 3-0 lead when their talented full back, Robbie Norton, converted a penalty kick awarded after a Portadown infringement. The Portadown College team had the opportunity to draw the score level immediately after the restart but an attempted penalty kick was well off the mark. That was the last time in the first half the Portadown College team came close to the Lurgan College 22m area. The remainder of the half saw the Portadown College team defend the constant Lurgan College attacks led by their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ prop, Harry Simpson. However, the Portadown defenders were secure and the teams turned around at halftime with Lurgan College maintaining their 3-0 lead.

It was a different Portadown College team in the second half. Their pack started to win some quality possession and their half back partnership of Brett Fleck and Michael Orr started to display some better game management skills. They pinned the Lurgan College team back into their 22m area and players such as Matthew Neill, James Hewitt and Peter McKeeman started to ask questions of the Lurgan College defence. Good work at the breakdown from James Wright and Stewart Hodgen eventually led to quality possession for the Portadown team. Nine minutes into the second period team captain, Michael Orr, gained some ground and put a clever grubber kick in behind the Lurgan College defence. Michael took advantage of hesitancy among the home defenders, regathered the ball and slid in for a try close to the posts. Michael was successful with his conversion kick to see his team into a 7-3 lead. After this the Lurgan College team had a number of opportunities to take play deeper into Portadown territory but a series of missed line kicks and spilt possession at critical times prevented them from doing so. There was now a degree of confidence developing within the Portadown College camp and they controlled the game for the rest of the second half. The Lurgan defence did manage to hold out and there were no further scores which ensured it was the Portadown College team that finished this closely contested Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 1 game as 7-3 winners.

Royal School, Dungannon hosted Carrickfergus Grammar School in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 1 encounter on the pristine WK Armstrong pitch at the Royal School. Having built up a 12-10 lead at the end of the first half the RS Dungannon team went on to win the game by 45-10. The Royal School team began the game well and were well in control in the opening exchanges of the game. Ten minutes into the game a great break from Aaron Perry was carried on and finished off by Matthew Smyth who ran in for a try. The conversion kick was unsuccessful but the RS Dungannon team had taken a 5-0 lead. The RS Dungannoin team continued to control the game but small errors proved costly. The Carrickfergus Grammar School team displayed great commitment in defence at this stage of the game. Their commitment was rewarded when they turned over RS Dungannon possession and broke out of defence. Fionn McCormack finished this off with a try, which he converted, to put the Carrickfergus GS team into a 7-5 lead. Further good pressure from the Carrickfergus GS team ended with the RS Dungannon team conceding a penalty. Fionn stepped up to confidently convert the penalty and increase the Carrickfergus Grammar School lead to 10-5. In the closing stages of the first half Joseph Cashel capitalised on some Carrickfergus Grammar School handling errors. He ran in for a try, which Aaron Nimmons converted, to see his Royal School, Dungannon team into a 12-10 lead at the interval.
The RS Dungannon team started the second half in a composed fashion. They scored two early tries through Adam Cranston and James Gamble with both tries being run in from close range. Adam Nimmons added one conversion to see his team into a 24-10 lead. Calvin Nelson then took advantage of a well-organised driven maul from outside the Carrickfergus GS 22m line to touch down for a try. Adam Perry added the extras to increase the RS Dungannon lead to 31-10. The home team now grew in confidence with players such as Peter Doran, David Cooper, Matthew Stockdale, Josh Patton and Nicholas Graham continually testing a determined Carrickfergus GS defence with their strong carries and elusive running. The RS Dungannon forwards made good ground with the ball in hand and took play close to the Carrickfergus GS 22m line. Quick release of the ball put Adam Perry into space and he displayed some clever foot work to finish off with a try, which he converted, to increase the Dungannon lead to 38-10. Angus Mok then took advantage of a charged down clearance kick to score the seventh try of the game. Adam Perry added the conversion to secure the 45-10 victory for the Royal School, Dungannon team against the gallant Carrickfergus Grammar School team at the end of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 1 game.

Wellington College, Belfast hosted Friends’ School, Lisburn in the first round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup with the Friends’ School team finishing the game as 22-3 winners. The build up to the game had suggested this would prove to be a tough encounter for both teams and so it proved to be. The first half, with rain pouring down, was a forward dominated game with both packs of forwards battling each other at scrum time, in the air at lineout time and on the ground at breakdown time. No quarter was asked or given for the duration of the game. The only score from the first half came from a penalty kick which was converted successfully by the Friends’ School outhalf, David Stewart, to give the Lisburn team a 3-0 lead. Friends’ ill-discipline cost them ground and possession at times in the course of the first half but their defence was well-organised. Clever work at the breakdown, allied to some big tackles from players such as Adam Milligan and Chris Nesbitt, ensured the Wellington attacks, which were intense, came to nothing. Even the hard lines ran by the impressive Wellington College No 8 and captain, Jason Lyons, came to nothing and it was the Friends’ School, Lisburn team that took their 3-0 lead into the halftime break.

The second half started in the same manner with the wet and dirty conditions calling on both packs to work hard. A strong run from Jason Lyons resulted in a yellow card for a Friends’ School player which put even more pressure on the Friends’ School defence. The Wellington College team became encamped in the Friends’ School 22m area. They forced numerous penalties but again, due to outstanding defence from the visitors, the Wellington College team could find no way over the Friends’ School whitewash. However, a penalty from the trusty boot of Jamie Hewitt was some reward for the Wellington College efforts and this kick drew the score level at 3-3. Friends’ came back with intent and, with Adam Scholfield taking a quick tap penalty, David Stewart was in a position to put his flanker, Kirk McGrady, over the Wellington College line for a try. David Stewart added the conversion to put the Friends’ School team into a 10-3 lead. This try appeared to have the effect of bringing a renewed sense of confidence to the Friends’ School team. They came straight back with renewed vigour and put pressure on the Wellington back three players with a series of superb box kicks. One such kick resulted in a dropped ball that ended up in the hands of George Pringle. George made great ground before off-loading to Curtis Dundas who outpaced a despairing Wellington College defence to score a timely try. Again, David Stewart was successful with his conversion to increase the Friends’ School lead to 17-3. In the last ten minutes of the game both teams used a number of replacement players. The Friends’ School attack maintained pressure on the Wellington College defence. This positive approach paid off when, in the dying minutes of the game, they kept applying pressure, Adam Milligan broke off the back of a maul to run in and touch down to score a try. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Friends’ School, Lisburn team had done enough to secure their 22-3 victory at the end of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 1 game.

Banbridge Academy and Antrim Grammar School played out a closely fought Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup first round game which the Antrim Grammar School team won by 16-15 with the last kick off the game. This was a cruel blow to the Banbridge team who can be very proud of their efforts throughout this exciting game,
Banbridge started the game the stronger of the teams. Seven minutes into the game a driving maul ended with prop, John Wilson, sneaking over in the corner to touch down for a try. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the home team had taken a 5-0 lead. The Antrim Grammar School team responded in a positive manner to this setback and, on twenty two minutes, Josh Battishill reduced the arrears to 5-3 with a well struck penalty. Just before the break the hard working Banbridge Academy flanker, Jonny Campbell, barged over the Antrim Grammar School line to score a try. The conversion kick was missed but the Banbridge Academy team had a 10-3 lead at the interval.

The second half started well for the Academy team with scrum half, Jordan Mount, running in a great score early on. Once again the conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Banbridge Academy team now had a 15-3 lead. Antrim Grammar School then set their stall out and responded almost immediately. Winger, Adam Johnston, scored a fine try, which Josh Battishill converted, to reduce the deficit to 15-10. On fifty five minutes Antrim Grammar School then closed the gap to two points with a penalty from Sam Gordon. Then, in the final play of the game and just as the Banbridge Academy team seemed to have turned the ball over and won the match, the referee awarded a penalty to Antrim following a Banbridge Academy player straying offside. Sam Gordon stepped up and coolly slotted the kick over the cross bar and between the uprights. The final whistle blew and the Antrim Grammar School team celebrated their 16-15 win at the end of this intriguing Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 1 tie.

Foyle and Londonderry College College made the trip to the Shore Road in Newtownabbbey for their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 1 game against Belfast High School. The Maiden City mem were delighted to return home as 21-7 winners at the end of the game. The game started off with the Belfast High School controlling a lot of the possession as well as the territory. However, despite this early pressure, the Belfast High School team could find no way through a determined and unyielding Foyle College defence. Somewhat against the run of play, but as a result of great Foyle line speed in defence, the first try of the game came about. The Foyle College defence forced the charge down of a Belfast High School kick and outhalf, Conal Gill, kicked the ball through. He regathered the ball at pace and outstripped the High School defence to score a try close to the posts. Matthew Orr stepped up to convert the try and give the Foyle and Londonderry College team 7-0 lead. The home team responded in a positive manner from this setback. They took the game deep into the Foyle College 22m area and got rewarded for their enterprise when their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ player, Tyler Arnold, touched down for a try. Simon White added the conversion to draw the score level at 7-7. The weather conditions now started to really impact on the game with both teams experiencing difficulties in controlling possession. The Foyle team defended well and were rewarded with two penalties at vital times. Matthew Orr converted both penalty opportunities to see his team into a 13-7 lead at halftime.

The Belfast High School team started the second half well but could still not manage to get any change out of the Foyle College defence. As conditions worsened the Foyle half backs then used their kicking skills with any possession they got to pin the Belfast High School team back. They forced the home team into conceding a penalty and Matthew Orr stepped up to convert the penalty to give his team a 16-7 lead. Foyle then continued to dominate possession and territory in the final quarter of the game. They were rewarded with a try when scrum half, Killene Thornton, put a great kick into the corner. There ensued a great chase by winger, Matthew Alford, who retrieved the ball. Matthew was tackled short of the line but he did superbly well to pop it up to the supporting Killene Thornton. Killene finished the play off with a try in the corner. The difficult conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Foyle and Londonderry College team had done enough to win this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup encounter by 21-7. “Man of the Match” was Year 12 student, No 8 Joel Smyth, who made great carries during the game and tackled his heart out for the duration.