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Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Round Up Saturday 2nd September 2017

Monday, 4 September 2017

With the new school year starting in the course of the week there were games played on Saturday 2nd September.
Prior to this the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ team travelled to play Munster Schools in Thomond Park, Limerick on Monday 28th August in the first of four Inter Provincial games scheduled to take place in late August/early September. The Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ squad had been working over the course of the summer period with Kieran Campbell, Bryan Young and John Creighton involved as the team coaches. They had prepared for the Inter Pro series with games against Saracen’s Academy and Gloucester Academy U18 teams. The Ulster team played 4×20 minute sessions against the Saracen’s Academy, losing out in dreadful conditions by 3 tries – 2 tries. This was followed by a trip to Gloucester where a closely contested game finished as a 24-24 draw.

The team travelled to Thomond Park for the encounter against Munster Schools in a very positive frame of mind. Everyone involved knew it would be another closely contested game and so it proved to be with the team losing out to their Munster counterparts by 10-9. Munster took an early 3-0 lead with a successful fourth minute penalty. Nathan Doak levelled the score at 3-3 when he was successful with a penalty two minutes later. Six minutes later the Ulster team spurned a golden try scoring opportunity when the ball was spilled with the Munster try line at their mercy. Four minutes later Nathan Doak gave the Ulster team a 6-3 lead when he converted a penalty opportunity. A loose Ulster pass was then intercepted by Munster who finished off with a converted try to give the home team a 10-6 lead just before the interval.

The second half was another evenly contested affair with Nathan Doak converting his third penalty of the game to reduce the Ulster arears to 10-9 with just nine minutes of the game remaining. Ulster piled on the pressure in the remaining minutes and had opportunities to win the game. However, the Munster defence remained intact and the home team celebrated their hard earned 10-9 victory when the no-side whistle sounded.
Ballyclare High School hosted the Glenalmond College 1stxv at the Rashee Road venue where the teams played out a 3×20 minute midweek training game. The first session saw the Ballyclare HS team score three tries through Ross Herron, Ewan Watson and Ross Peterson.
The second session saw Josh Cowan score two tries for the home team with the Glenalmond team scoring two tries as well.

The final session saw the Ballyclare HS team score one try through Ross Patterson with the Glenalmond team scoring a try with the last play of the game. This format saw both teams use extended panels of players which proved beneficial for the coaching staff in both schools as well as being enjoyable for all the players involved.
Glenalmond then went on to play the Royal School, Armagh team on Thursday 31st August in a game the Royal School team won by 15-5. Benji Boyd converted a penalty opportunity for the RS Armagh team with Matthew Reaney scoring an unconverted try in the early stages of the game. A Jonny Agnew try, converted by Zac Thompson, then secured the 15-5 win for the Royal School, Armagh team.

On Friday 1st September an Ulster U20/Academy Development team travelled to Limerick to play against a much more experienced Munster Academy team. A number of the Munster players had played for the full Munster team and the young Ulster team made the hosts work hard for their 29-21 victory. The Ulster team took a 7-0 lead in the first minute of the game when Rory Butler cut a great line to outpace the home defence and touch down for a try. Michael Lowry added the conversion. Ulster continued to pressurise the home defence and six minutes later increased their lead to 10-0 when Michael Lowry converted a penalty opportunity. Midway through the first half the Munster team got their first points of the game when Conor Fitzgerald converted a penalty opportunity. The Ulster team continued to dominate proceedings in all areas of the pitch and took a 13-3 lead into the break when Michael Lowry converted another penalty just before the interval.

The Ulster team started the second half strongly but a blood injury to Michael Lowry and a leg muscle strain to the impressive Ballymena Academy schoolboy centre, Stewart Moore, forced the Ulster management into using replacement players earlier than intended. Within two minutes of these enforced changes the Munster team had scored two tries through Kevin O’Bryne and Shane Daly. David Johnston converted one of the tries to see the Munster team into a 15-13 lead. Midway through the half Callum Smith converted a penalty opportunity to see the Ulster team regain the lead with the score board reading 16-15 in their favour. In the 37th minute of the second half Jonny Stewart, the Ulster captain, finished off a superb series of plays with a try. The conversion attempt hit the upright but the Ulster team had a 21-15 lead going into the final few minutes of the game. However, the greater experience of the Munster team shone through in the closing stages of the game and tries from Sean Duffy and Gavin Coombes, both of which were converted by David Johnston, saw the Munster team finish the game as 29-21 winners.

Despite many schoolboy players from a range of schools being involved in two age grade Inter Provincial games on Saturday 2nd September a number of school matches took place.
Ballyclare High School hosted Ballymena Academy in a game the Ballyclare team won by 17-0. Adam Clarke and Ross Patterson both scored unconverted tries in the first half of the game which saw the home team into a 10-0 lead at the interval.
The points in the second half came from Owen Lockhart who converted his own try to secure the 17-0 victory for the Ballyclare High School team.

Bangor Grammar School, Regent House, Down High School and Friends’ School, Lisburn all had players missing due to the Inter Pro games when the teams met to play a series of round robin games at Bangor Grammar School. The Down High School team defeated Regent House by 14-0 with tries from Jack Carlisle and Alex Martin. Greg Hutley added both conversions.
Down High then went on to defeat Friends’ School by 5-0 with Ronan Patterson finishing off some patient phase play when he touched down for an unconverted try.
In their final game the Down High School team defeated Bangor Grammar School by 21-12. Tries from Alex Martin, Robin Wilson and Callum Dunn, all of which were converted by Greg Hutley, saw the Down High School team into a 21-0 lead. The Bangor Grammar School team scored two tries, one of which was converted, in the closing stages of the game.

Friends’ School, Lisburn defeated both Regent House and Bangor Grammar in their remaining two games. The score against Regent House was 21-0 with Ross Stewart, George Pringle and Bradley Mulholland each scoring a try. George then went on to convert all three. The Friends’ School team defeated Bangor Grammar School by 12-5 with Bradley Mulholland and Harry Reid each scoring a try. George Pringle added one conversion.
Antrim Grammar School hosted Carrickfergus Grammar School in a game the Antrim Grammar School team won by 26-5. Adam Pearce, Dylan Wood, Adam Mc Cullough and Callum McComb each scored a try for the Antrim Grammar School team with Ben McDonagh adding three conversions.

The annual IH Graham Trophy competition was hosted by Grosvenor Grammar School with teams from Grosvenor Grammar School, Banbridge Academy, Dromore High School, Belfast Royal Academy, Rainey Endowed School and Wesley College, Dublin all taking part in this prestigious event. The Wesley College team defeated Belfast Royal Academy team by 12-0 in the final and their captain was presented with the trophy by former King’s Scholar and President of the Ulster Branch, IRFU, Mr Ian H Graham. The Rainey ES team defeated the Grosvenor GS team by 10-7 in the final of the Subsidiary competition. The Rainey ES points came through tries from David Dripps and Bryan Hall. Ewan Renfrew scored the Grosvenor Grammar School points. Banbridge Academy defeated Dromore High School by 26-7 in the final of the Plate competition. The Banbridge Academy points came from Andy Denver, Jesse Knox, Matthew Robinson and Timothy Beattie.

The Royal School, Armagh team hosted Coleraine Grammar School in a 3×20 minute games scenario the Royal School team won by 35-0. In the games, where no conversions were taken, the RS Armagh team ran in seven tries. James Brown and Zac Thompson scored one try each in the first session, Charlie Worth and Jude Roberts one try each in the second with Zac Thompson, Jonny Agnew and Benji Boyd each touching down for a try in the third session.

Enniskillen Royal Grammar School, Omagh Academy and Foyle and Londonderry College played out a series of Round Robin games in Enniskillen. The Enniskillen drew 7-7 with Foyle and Londonderry College in their first game. Reece Smyton scored a try which was converted by Craig Johnston. The Foyle College points came from Keelan Coyle.
The Enniskillen RGS team then went on to defeat Omagh Academy by 28-0. Jack Rutledge, Josh Kennedy, Angus Keys and Alex Holder scored the tries with Ewan Haire adding all four conversions.

The Royal School, Dungannon team travelled to play a 3×25 minute series of games against a very young Limavady Grammar School squad. Jono Shrestha, Nicholas Graham with four, Luke McMullan and David Maxwell were the RS Dungannon try scorers. Luke McMullan added four conversions to leave the Royal School, Dungannon team as 43-0 winners. For the Limavady Grammar School team Ben Reilly, Jon McMichael and Chris McKee all impressed with their performances.

Wallace High School set their early season stall out with an impressive 61-3 victory against St Gerard’s College from Bray. The Wallace team scored nine tries through Josh Cardosi, who touched down twice, Sam Cardosi, Peter McRoberts, Jack Ferguson, TL Bradley, Harry Long, John Bailie and Andy Reid. Jack Dillon was successful with eight out of nine conversions.

The Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ team hosted Leinster Schools in their first home Inter Pro game of the season at Campbell College. The Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ team felt they had left a potential victory behind them when they lost by 10-9 against Munster Schools at Thomond Park on Monday last. The squad was determined to put matters right and, when they played against Leinster Schools, the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ team won the game by 18-17. The Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ team started the game strongly and pressurised the Leinster defence. The Leinster defence was well-organised but eighteen minutes into the game the Ulster team took a 5-0 lead when full back, Ben McCaughey, finished off a flowing move with an unconverted try. Continued pressure from the home team forced the visitors into conceding a penalty, which Nathan Doak converted, to see the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ team into an 8-0 lead. Leinster responded with a Mick O’Gara penalty to reduce their arrears to 8-3.

However, the Ulster lead was increased to 11-3 when Nathan Doak was successful with another penalty kick. On the stroke of halftime the Danske Bank Ulster Schools‘ team increased their lead to 18-3 when their flying winger, Aaron Sexton, scorched in for a try which Nathan Doak converted.

The second half proved to be closely contested and the Leinster team worked hard to improve their situation. Fifteen minutes after the restart they got some reward for their enterprise when Cian Prendergast touched down for a try, converted by Mick O’Gara, to reduce the arrears to 18-10. Ten minutes later their impressive scrum half, Ben Murphy, ran in for a try, once again converted by Mick O’Gara, to reduce the deficit to 18-17. With just five minutes of the game remaining the Leinster team threw everything at the Ulster team. However, the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ captain, John McKee, ensured his players maintained their discipline and defensive skills which ensured the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ team celebrated their hard earned, but ultimately well-deserved, 18-17 win when the final whistle sounded.

Among the sizeable crowd which had gathered to watch the game were the Ulster Director of Rugby, Les Kiss, the Ulster Rugby CEO, Shane Logan, the Ulster Rugby Team Manager, Bryn Cunningham, as well as the Ulster Rugby Matchday Mangers, David Millar and Hugh McCaughey. Their support was greatly appreciated by all the young Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ team players as well as by the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ team management.

Next up in a busy weekend of Age Grade Inter Provincial games was the Ulster U19 team who had travelled to Galway where they met their Connacht counterparts on the famous Galway Sportsground pitch. The Ulster team had built up a 21-13 lead by the interval with tries from Jonny Hunter, David Lyttle and Azur Allison. Bruce Houston was successful with all three conversions. The Connacht team scored one try, which was converted, as well as two penalty kicks.

The second half saw the Connacht team control both possession and territory for most of the time. The Ulster defence was under severe pressure at times and eventually succumbed to let Connacht in for two tries in the final quarter of the game. Both conversion kicks were successful to leave the Connacht U19 team finish the game as 27-21 winners.