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Methody win Northern Bank Schools’ Cup

Monday, 5 November 2012

Methodist College Belfast won their 33rd Northern Bank Schools’ Cup title after a 22-6 victory over Ballyclare High School at Ravenhill on Monday afternoon.

Methody, playing with a strong wind at their backs in the first half, went into half time 17-0 up courtesy of tries from captain Rory Winters, James Harrison and Conor McKee. Chris Gracey scored a fourth try minutes before the final whistle to complete the win, despite a spirited fight back from Ballyclare.

The Belfast side dominated proceedings from the start with Harrison prominent with his ball carrying. Impressive Methody fullback Patrick Colhoun almost scored in the corner in the opening ten minutes but was hauled into touch by Ballyclare winger Peter Ferguson.

But the pressure paid off and after a penalty was kicked to touch, Methody secured lineout ball and set up a driving maul which resulted in a score for Winters. Rudolf Benade was unable to add the extras as his kick curled past the post. Ballyclare had a few forays into the Methody half but they came to nothing.

Benade failed to stretch the lead as his penalty attempt was off target but an excellent break from Michael Lagan set up the second try after 20 minutes. The prop collected the ball from behind a ruck in midfield and burst through a gap before drawing Ballyclare fullback Johnny Holmes and supplying the final pass to fellow prop James Harrison. Harrison went in under the post, leaving Benade with the simple task of converting to give his team a 12-0 lead.

Methody were well in control at this stage as the wind prevented Ballyclare from gaining any meaningful territory. No 8 James Gallagher offloaded to Patrick Colhoun who straightened the line and beat four defenders but was dragged down metres short. The ball was recycled quickly and Ross Edgar brushed off a tackle before floating a long pass to Conor McKee who touched down in the corner. Benade again missed the conversion but his team went into the break 17-0 to the good.

In the opening minutes of the second half, Ballyclare wasted little time in showing they were not going to roll over as Johnny Holmes kicked a penalty to bring the score back to 17-3. The fullback added a second 3-pointer after 50 minutes to reduce the arrears to 17-6 and Dan Soper’s side were now in the ascendancy.

Five minutes later Methody second row Marc Campbell was sin binned for an illegal tackle as the favourites were put under increasing pressure. But resolute defending ensured Ballyclare were not to score any further points on the day. Instead, it was Methody who had the last word, as flanker Chris Gracey scored in the dying minutes to seal the win.

The victory represents a fourth Schools’ Cup success for Methody coach Nick Wells in seven years at the helm. Winters lifted the trophy to a great ovation as he thanked supporters for turning up and gave credit to Ballyclare HS for their valiant display.

BALLYCLARE HS TEAM (15-9): Jonathan HOLMES, Peter FERGUSON, Eddie McKEE, Jonny DOUGLAS, Andrew BUTLER, Jack IRVINE, Chris MILLAR
(1-8): Jonathan CRAIG, Marc LOGAN, Patrick REID, Matt DAILLY, Scott BARR, Jordan McKINSTRY, Grant BARTLEY (capt), Jonathan DARLING
REPLACEMENTS (16-23): Matt BROLLY, David LAWTHER, David KELLY, David ALLEN, Andrew EASTOP, James GREER, James BEATTIE, Jonny MEES

METHODY TEAM (15-9): Patrick COLHOUN, Elliot MOONEY, Mark GRIBBEN, Conor McKEE, Rudolph BENADE, Ross EDGAR, David McELHINNEY
(1-8): Michael LAGAN, Oliver McGOLDRICK, James HARRISON, Dan BINGHAM, Marc CAMPBELL, Chris GRACEY, Rory WINTERS (capt), James GALLAGHER
REPLACEMENTS (16-23): Steven WEIR, Scott DEVLIN, Kris DEAN, David REA, Matthew RAINEY, Josh BINGHAM, Adam LIDDELL, Richie McKEE