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Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 3rd Round Previews Saturday 26th January 2013

Friday, 25 January 2013

There are Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 3rd Round games scheduled for Saturday 26th January.

COLERAINE AI v OMAGH ACADEMY, 11.00am

Coleraine Academical Institution will meet Omagh Academy at the Castlerock Road venue. The hosts had a slow start to the season, losing a number of games including one against a young Omagh Academy team.

Despite losing that their previous encounter, Coleraine will see themselves as favourites to take the spoils in this Schools’ Cup game. They have lost 10 of their 17 games this season but will have a number of players returning from injury for this game.

Richard Beggs has returned to his coaching duties and will see the skills and abilities that his Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ outhalf, Conor Shiels, brings to the team as being vital if the team is to progress. Conor gets good support from his scrum half and captain, Peter Kidd, a player who is keen to attack at every opportunity.

Mark Gordon, Danny McAlister and the team vice-captain, Nick Logan, bring a lot to the pack. Thomas Pethwick is a strong second row but there could be a doubt over his availability due to an injury received in a recent game. If the Coleraine AI team is at full strength they should have enough talent on hand to beat their opponents.

However, they would be foolish to in any way underestimate the Omagh Academy team. Over the years in the Schools’ Cup competition, Omagh teams have defeated many of the more fancied teams both home and away! This current squad of Omagh players has the ability to play both a tighter game as well as a more free flowing game.

Team coach, Ross Hunter, assisted by Stewart McCain and Stephen McLaine, has instilled a very positive attitude into the team. They have recorded some impressive wins this season especially against Coleraine AI, Royal School, Dungannon and Portora Royal School.

They can call upon the services such as the Longwell twins, Adam and Scott, nephews of Gary Longwell, as well as the White brothers, Richard and Robert. These c players are all RDS members as is their hard running centre, Scott Hemphill. They will travel to Coleraine, where they recorded their early season win, in a very positive frame of mind. They will travel as underdogs but that will not worry this talented Omagh Academy team.

PORTADOWN COLLEGE v BANGOR GRAMMAR, 10.30am

Portadown College will host Bangor Grammar School with both teams entering the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup at this stage. With home advantage, the Portadown College coach, Andrew Symington, assisted by Stephen McDowell, will be keen to see the team progress to round 4, one stage further than last season. The team has had a relatively successful season so far, losing only 5 of the 17 matches played.

They are an experienced team, well led by their hard working captain, Ryan Calvert. Ryan gets good support from senior players such as Jonny Burns, Matthew Goodland, Ross Purvis and Jordan Elliott. Ben Matchett brings Ulster Schools’ representative honours to the team and he has the ability to bring the best out of young emerging talent such as Jason Lau and Niall Davidson. Thomas Trouton has scored a few tries this season and Ryan Turner has impressed with his clever work in the Portadown College backrow.

The Bangor team has had some impressive wins this season. Victories against Sullivan Upper, Belfast Royal Academy and Foyle College display the ability of the team. However, defeats to teams such as Methodist College, Limavady Grammar School, Wallace High School and Ballyclare High School would suggest they have still some way to go in their attempts to return to the ‘top table’ of Ulster Schools’ rugby.

They have a number of talented players at their disposal. Coach, Jason Morgan, and his assistant, David Graham, will see the representative experience of players such as Max Montgomery and Andrew Shaw, as vital if the team is to progress beyond the third ound. Despite not playing in their representative positions, these players are part of a very strong Bangor GS backrow trio.

Matthew Hamilton is a Regional Development Squad player, while Andrew Mellon brings strength and pace to the Bangor GS back division when he transfers his Irish Schools’ Athletics 400m prowess to the rugby pitch. This is a hard game to predict but home advantage could be seen as vital.

BRA v CARRICKFERGUS GRAMMAR, 11.00am

Belfast Royal Academy will see themselves as clear favourites when they entertain their near neighbours from Carrickfergus Grammar School in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup third round clash at Roughfort. BRA started the season well recording some good results, particularly wins against Ballyclare High School and Coleraine AI. The team, coached by Chris McCarey, assisted by David Creighton, has gone on to win 13 of their 17 games.

Daniel Dass and Stuart Martin, in the backrow, bring Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ experience to the team. Captain Mark Wylie is a very attack minded centre who has displayed great skills in both attack and defence in the course of the season. He likes nothing more than to create space for his winger, Jordan Hylton, who is an Irish Schools’ sprint champion. Daniel McFadden and Jordan Carlisle, as well as being good rugby players, are Ulster Schools’ Cricketers.

The Torrens brothers, Chris and Jonny, form an effective lock partnership, while Sam Lindsay and Stephen Craig will both be able to give an insight into the opposition, having spent their formative academic and sporting years at Carrickfergus Grammar.

The Carrick GS team has gained the confidence of a win the second round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. The defeated a very spirited Lurgan College side in that game and their coach, Gareth McClintock, who is assisted by Stephen Martin, will hope the confidence gained will stand his charges in good stead as they travel to Roughfort.

Kris Berry, Christian Robinson, Joel Bell, Adam Fittis and Reece Berry all played well in the last round. The Belfast Royal Academy team should not, in any way, underestimate the ability of these players. In Adam Urqhart and Robin O’Callaghan, Carrick has two very hard working forwards; both love to get the ball in their hands and drive at the opposition. Robert has scored a lot of tries throughout the season, including one against Lurgan College in the Schools’ Cup and five in a game earlier in the season. These players will have the potential to make the Belfast Royal Academy team think but it would be a major upset if the home side does not win.

GOSVENOR GRAMMAR v DALRIADA, 10.45am

Grosvenor Grammar School will host a Dalriada team that has already beaten them this season. The Grosvenor team, coached by Ireland cricket legend, Kyle McCallan, will impress upon his squad that this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup third round game will be an ideal opportunity to reverse that early season result.

Kyle, and fellow coach Gary Hunter, feel that recent performances by their charges have warranted the players feeling confident about the outcome of this game. Their victory against a full strength Ulster U18 Club team was particularly pleasing. They are a young team, with only six players returning from their Schools’ Cup campaign last season.

Steven Marshall is team captain and he forms part of an effective backrow trio alongside the hard working Sam Purdon and Michael Young. Matthew Allen was involved with the Ulster U19 squad during the summer and he is an experienced prop with a penchant for scoring tries. Stewart Baillie, Scott Adams and Peter Davison have the ability to take advantage of any weaknesses in the opposition defence. The will show no fears going into this game.

The Dalriada team has a new coach at the helm this season. David Doherty worked with Belfast Harlequins 1st XV prior to taking up an appointment in the Physical Education Department in Dalriada. David is assisted by Neil Bedos who is a stalwart of the local Ballymoney Rugby Club.

Like Grosvenor, they are a relatively young side. Timmy Emmerson is a very talented player who displays great maturity as team captain; he has led by example both on and off the pitch. Fullback Ewan Strang is an RDS member who is keen to attack with the ball in hand. Ewan is a strong defender as well and provides great inspiration for his team mates with his performances.

This game could be won and lost at the breakdown where the Dalriada team, like their counterparts, has a very effective loose forward combination. Jonny Allen, Dave McKeeman and Henry Loan will enjoy that particular aspect of the game.

RS DUNGANNON v BELFAST HS, 10.45am

Royal School Dungannon coach, Keith Patton, had to remind his players at half time in their last Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup match that they had to overcome the Cup nerves and get into the game in the second half. Thankfully, his players listened to him and they emerged as eventual winners from that game.

Against Belfast High School, in their fourth round encounter, they will have to be on top of their game from the outset. The RS Dungannon captain, Jacob McCammon, scored the vital try in that game and he would be delighted to score a few more on Saturday. Jacob received great support from David Leyburn, an all-action flanker, as well as the talented Jack Milligan, in the course of that game.

Home advantage counts for a lot in any game but in particular for Schools’ Cup games. Royal School Dungannon is a venue where visitors receive a great welcome off the pitch and a hard game on it.

Belfast High School, with Michael Rainey back in charge of coaching duties, have made quite a few teams sit up and take notice in the course of the season so far. They are a young team with the tendency to attack at every opportunity.

They have talented players throughout the team. Lewis Benson, their lock forward, brings representative experience to the team as does their five try hero of the second round, centre Jordan Garford. Other players that Dungannon will have to closely monitor are Robbie Reid, Joel McBride and Jordan’s fellow centre, Adam White.

The Belfast High School team have confidence in their ability to compete on an equal footing with other teams and will carry that confidence into this game on Saturday.

FOYLE COLLEGE v DOWN HS, 11.30am

Foyle College had an exciting encounter with Portora Royal School in the previous round of the Schools’ Cup. At one stage they were 21-0 ahead and then allowed the Portora team to pin them back, and gain a foothold in the game, before emerging as eventual winners. If the same scenario was to be repeated against Down High School, they may not be as fortunate.

Coach, David Barnett, who is assisted by Ray Menown, will have instilled into his squad that pressure must be maintained for the duration of the game. Neil Burns and Ryan Curry, alongside Foyle captain Kyle Henderson, form a formidable midfield trio. They have combined to score a lot of points this season with Ryan running in a hat trick of tries against Portora.

Niall Adair and Ben Christie bring RDS experience to the game while the return of the talented Patrick Leeson from injury has been a major boost for his team mates. Once again, the Foyle team will see home advantage as being a major factor in their quest to reach the fourth round.

However, a talented Down High School team stand in the way of progression. If the visitors can manage to overcome the self-imposed psychological barriers that seem to have been brought on by the Schools’ Cup competition in recent seasons, they have a number of talented players at their disposal that can stand up in any company. Coaches John Gunson and Charlie Knox, are still bewildered as to how their charges went out at the same stage last season when many observers tipped them for at least a quarter final spot.

Kelvin Hamilton and Thomas Donnan are experienced Ulster age grade players at Schools and U19 level respectively, and they bring a wealth of experience to the pack. They are ably assisted by players such as Darren Cheung and team captain, Callum Kerr. Ricky Gill, Patrick Wright, Luca Rea and Toni Rushe are exciting runners who are willing to take risks in attack. The Foyle defence will need to be mindful of the attacking powers of Ryan Smith as well.

The season started well for Down HS but they had some poor performances around the Christmas period with some frontline players missing due to injury. These players are now back in action and they will see themselves as favourites to win. A lot will depend on their psychological approach to the game.

REGENT HOUSE v RAINEY ENDOWED, 11.00am

Regent House found themselves in the unusual position of participating in the second round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup when they comprehensively defeated Larne Grammar School last time out. They now host Rainey Endowed at the Circular Road venue.

It has been a difficult season for the Regent House players who have seen a young and inexperienced team emerge in the course of the season. Team coaches, Eric Sinnamon and Peter Lowry, will instil into their players the need to progress on the back of their previous Schools’ Cup performance against Larne, as well as their recent excellent win against Omagh Academy.

They have scored tries for fun in recent games with players such as Rhys Thompson, Peter Eakin, Matthew Kane, Curtis McCartney, Aaron Culbert and Andy Currie getting their names on the score sheet. Gareth Wright, a dynamic scrum half, captains the Regent team. In Philip Patton, they have a very talented, hard working number 8 and he will be keen to add to his growing reputation on Saturday.

Rainey Endowed, over the years, has built up a fearsome reputation whether playing home or away in the Schools’ Cup. They are no respecters of reputation and they will travel to Regent House in a very positive frame of mind.

Their coach, Chris Campbell, assisted by Charlie Simpson, brings a wealthy of Schools’ Cup experience to his players both as a player, and previous winner, as well as a coach. Chris and Charlie will have their squad well organised and prepared for the game.

Michael Dawson, the captain, has played for both the Ulster Schools’ team as well as the Ulster U19 team in the past few seasons. Michael leads by example and gets good support from players such as Kieran Lynch, brothers Aaron and Conal Murphy. The latter is also an RDS squad member. They have had a successful season so far and they will believe they have a realistic chance of progressing into the last 16 of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup.

FRIENDS’ SCHOOL v LIMAVADY GRAMMAR, Wednesday 30th, 3.00pm

Friends’ School found themselves 8-0 down at half time against a very spirited Antrim Grammar School in their Danske Bank Schools’ Cup round 2 game. The Lisburn boys’ got themselves organised at the interval in that game and came out strongly with a second half performance that was sufficiently good for them to emerge as 12-8 winners and a place in the third round against the high flying Limavady Grammar School team.

However, this win came at a cost. Friends’ had already a lot of injuries to handle and the game against Antrim left them with even more. Thankfully, young players such as Zac Finlay and Peter Simpson have created a real impression since they have stepped up to the demands of 1st XV rugby.

Team coach, Stephen Robinson, assisted by Norman Gamble and Chris Henderson, knows that the his squad will have their backs to the wall on Saturday. He will hope that players such as Dylan Lewis, Dean Howes, Jack Ravey and Peter Ferguson can bring their experience to the fore to help the younger members of the squad through this difficult encounter.

Their opponents have experienced great success in the season to date. They started off with an all-conquering tour to South Africa and, since their return, have lost very few games. 18 of their squad took part in their Schools’ Cup campaign last season.

Head Coach, Stephen Barr, who is assisted by Chris Nash and Sam Vallelly, knows he has a talented group of players with which to work and they will see themselves as clear favourites to win this game. Rory Squires has played for the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ team and players such as Richard Boyd, Sam Mackey, Colt Callaghan, Jack McCool and team captain, Jamie W Millar, have been involved with RDS teams.

Michael Barr is a son of the Limavady coach, Stephen, while Scott McLean is a son of the Rainey Rugby Club legend, Arnie. The Limavady Grammar School team played in the final of the Subsidiary Shield last season. This season they hope to be contesting at least a spot in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Semi-Final.

There are three Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy matches scheduled for Saturday 26th January.

Wellington College v Larne Grammar School

Lurgan College v Antrim Grammar School

Banbridge Academy v Cambridge House School

Portora Royal School – BYE

The Draw for the fourth round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup, as well as the quarter finals of the Ulster Schools’ Bowl and the semi finals of the Ulster Schools’ Trophy, will take place at Portadown College following the third round games.