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Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 Previews

Friday, 11 January 2013

RS DUNGANNON v WELLINGTON COLLEGE, 11am

Royal School Dungannon, who have had a difficult start to the season due to the number of players unavailable, will host Wellington College on the WK Armstrong pitch. However, the team worked hard under the astute coaching of Keith Patton, assisted by Gareth Lucas and Jonny Willis, to overcome their problems. With players returning from injury and a large number of younger players adapting to the demands of 1st XV rugby, the results started to come.

The quality of the team came through strongly in a recent wins against Regent House and Down High School. The latter win was witnessed by a visiting Wellington College coach who must have been impressed with the Dungannon performance. Jacob McCammond leads his team well and receives great assistance from experienced players such as David Leyland, Matthew Montgomery and Jack Milligan.

The Wellington College team has come into the second round of the cup for the first time in recent seasons. Previous to this they have entered at Round 1 and in the past few seasons have managed to go as far as Round 3. Can they get as far once again? They went on tour to Italy and the end of October and won two games against local opposition. These results have given the squad great confidence and they will approach the game in Dungannon with a positive mindset.

Coach Peter Chambers, assisted by Gareth Montgomery and Mark O’Connor, will rely heavily on the experience of team captain Michael Hamilton, who despite being a fullback, will play in the critical outhalf position. He will have talented players such as Kier Patterson, Owen Jarvie and Josh Garnham close to hand. If the Wellington forwards such as Sam Bridge, David Montgomery and Matthew Gowen can get a good supply of ball to their backline, the RS Dungannon defence will have to be well-organised.

 

FOYLE COLLEGE v PORTORA RS, 11am

Foyle College host a Portora Royal School team they have played twice already this season. On the first occasion Portora won the game, while Foyle were successful in the return match. The Foyle College coaching staff of David Barnett and Ian Menown has had to overcome loss of players to injury and Inter-provincial representation earlier in the season. Things started slowly but the team displayed some great form in October when they went on an unbeaten run for six games.

Neil Burns is an important player for the team as are Kyle Henderson, the team captain, Patrick Leeson and Ryan Curry. Regional Development Squad players such as Niall Adair and Ben Christie will be expected to put in big performances in the Cup campaign. If the Foyle team clicks on the day, they could have too much for Portora to contain.

Portora, coached by Adrian Walker, started the season well and recorded some good wins against Regent House, Foyle College and Belfast High School. Since those early season wins, the young Portora team has struggled somewhat to achieve a series of positive results.

They have a strong, mobile pack with vice captain, Oliver Gamble, leading from the front. He gets good support from colleagues such as second row forward, Gary Thornton, an Irish rower, John Clarke, son of Portora legend, Raymond, as well as Charles McClean and Eric Elliott in the back row. In the backs, Portora players to look out for are James Stevenson, Robert Connor and Nathan Richmond. All three are prolific try scorers and like nothing more than to get their hands on the ball.

 

BELFAST HS v BANBRIDGE ACADEMY, 10.30am

Banbridge Academy will travel to play Belfast High School at the Shore Road venue on Saturday morning. The High School team is relatively young but a team that has recorded some excellent results in the course of the season so far. They have a number of representative players available for selection. Lewis Benson is a very athletic lock who will expect to get good possession from the lineouts, while Jordan Garford is a strong ball carrying centre who also has an eye for a gap. The Banbridge defence will need to monitor him closely. Joel McBride, son of the former Ulster and Ireland backrow forward, Denis, is a very clever outhalf who displays great game management skills. Robbie Reid is another Belfast High School player who thrives with the ball in hand and has the ability to exploit even the smallest of gaps.

The Banbridge team has a number of very talented players who feel they have not really achieved the results they should have this season. Calum Boardman and Tom Carlisle are two excellent props, with Calum having already been identified as a potential Ulster U19 player next season. Ross Williamson, in the second row, has been among the main try scorers for his team this season while Rory Carson and Ethan Harbinson form an effective break away trio with team captain David McKeown. Rory is a son of cricketing legend, Jimmy, and is joined in the squad by his brother Ben. Ethan is a son of former Ulster player, Bill.

Daniel McElderry, the Banbridge Academy fullback, will convert any penalty opportunities that come his way, while Rory Thompson has scored a lot of tries already this season. However, it is Aaron Kennedy, whether he plays at scrumhalf or outhalf, the Belfast High School defence will need to watch. Aaron has been capped at Ulster Schools’ and Ulster U19 level and is an Ireland Schools’ cricketer.

Belfast High School will see themselves as favourites to win this game but the Banbridge Academy team has the potential to cause an upset.

 

CARRICKFERGUS GS v LURGAN COLLEGE, 10.30am

Carrickfergus Grammar will host a Lurgan College team they defeated narrowly when the two teams met earlier in the season at the North Road venue. Coaches Gareth McClintock and Peter Martin realise their young team is full of potential. They have recorded some impressive results this season and will be looking for another one on Saturday. Joel Bell is team captain and he can rely on the emerging skills of Regional development Squad players such as fullback Christian Robinson, scrumhalf Michael Black and lock Scott Henderson.

Twins, Kris and Reece Berry display a tremendous work ethic in both attack and defence during games while the Lurgan College team might wish to pay attention to the try scoring exploits of Robert O’Callaghan who has scored a few tries this season, including five in one game! The Carrick squad has worked hard in preparation for the Cup campaign. They travelled to Portugal for a training camp and matches. They will see themselves as favourites for this game.

The Lurgan College team will travel to Carrickfergus quietly confident they can pull off a shock result. They lost in the last minute of their previous game and the coaching staff of Neil Ross, the experienced Brian Hanna and Brian Faith, will be confident they have provided their charges with sufficient strategies to get the result they feel they are capable of.

Dean Wilson, the team captain, is a dynamic player who gained representative honours as an U17 player. Dean is equally at home in the back row as he is in the centre and player availability will impact on where he is selected. Mark McIlwaine is a talented centre who has been an RDS member. There is a strong link with Lurgan RFC where Mark’s father, Neil, has been a stalwart for many seasons as has Dickie Davis, father of the Lurgan College scrum half, Drew. Jack Harrison in the Lurgan College lock has a fine sporting pedigree as his father is the legendary Shane Harrison of Waringstown and Ireland cricketing fame. Brothers Matthew and Benjamin Gilbert are expected to start at fullback and second row respectively. The Lurgan College team is a young team, like their opponents. A lot will depend on which team can adapt to the demands of Schools’ Cup rugby on the day.

 

ANTRIM GS v FRIENDS’ SCHOOL, 11am

It will be a busy morning at Antrim Grammar School on Saturday 12th January. It is the school Open Morning and the 1st XV will host Friends’ School in the Schools’ Cup game. The Antrim Grammar School team, captained by hooker Adam Watt, will be confident of winning the game. There will be a large crowd of supporters in attendance and a win would see them in the draw for the third round of the Schools’ Cup for the first time in the history of the school (the Round 3 draw will take at Antrim Grammar School when all results are through).

Coach, Bryan Baguely, assisted by Michael Ferguson and Randalstown RFC’s Alistair Strange, will be hoping the importance of the occasion will not impact on the performance of his young players. All but five of the squad are due to return next season. They have recorded some good results this season and players such as flanker Mark Strange, outhalf Chris McColdrick and centre Matthew McWhinney, have been playing consistently well. The team has been boosted by the return of centre Jamie Orr and second row Adam Patterson, from injury. This could see the Antrim team assume the tag of favourites in this game

The Friends’ team has had a mixed season so far in terms of results. A recent good win against Lurgan College was dampened by a number of injuries which means some experienced players will miss the Schools’ Cup game. Team coach, Stephen Robinson, who is assisted by the evergreen Norman Gamble and Chris Henderson, will be hoping the loss of a number of players to injury will not impact too seriously on his players. Acting captain, Jack Ravey, brings a degree of representative experience to the team while his vice captain, Peter Ferguson, has played in big games for the Ireland Schools’ cricket team.

Dean Howes, Peter Simpson and Dylan Lewis have been regular try scorers in the course of the season while Zac Finlay has adapted well to the demands of senior schools rugby in recent games. Steven Cooke and Jack McMullan have returned to the playing fields following their recent success in a Friends’ School production of Joseph. They will hope for a starting place on Saturday.

 

REGENT HOUSE v LARNE GS, 10.30am

Regent House find themselves in the unusual position of coming into the Schools’ Cup at this stage. They host Danske Ulster Bank Schools’ Cup Round 1 winners, Larne Grammar School. The Regent House team has struggled in terms of consistency for most of the current season. They have had to contend with an unusually large number of injuries and losing games, they should have won, by the narrowest of margins. The Regent team has a number of quality players at their disposal. Scrum half, Gareth Wright, is the team captain. He has been a member of the U18 Development squad. His half back partner, Peter Eakin, is a talented player who has also excelled in his cricket career having played for Ulster and Ireland Schools as well as North Down 1st xi. Aaron Culbert is an exciting centre and the Larne Grammar School will need to monitor this trio closely. Regent House coaches, Eric Sinnamon, Peter Lowry and Steven Cole, will see their team as clear favourites to win the game and a recent win against a very good Omagh Academy team will confirm the Regent House status as favourites.

The Larne Grammar School team will come into the game confident they can cause an upset. They have come through a Schools’ Cup already and the experience gained could stand them in good stead. They won that game on the back of good performances from a dominant back row trio of Ethan Kerr, Connor Connolly and James Bell. Team captain Connor Weir leads from the front.

The back division is held together by their talented outhalf Sam McIlwaine, who can call upon the services of the Ringland brothers, Jack and Adam, nephews of the former Ulster, Ireland and Lion’s winger Trevor. Team coach, Jonny Lowe, who is assisted by Barry Kirkpatrick, Stephen Snoddy and Peter Dundee, knows it will be a tough task to win at the Circular Road venue. However, the Larne team, having come through their Round 1 encounter, will draw upon the experience that success generated and will hope to provide considerable opposition for the Regent House team.