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Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Round Up Saturday 22nd February 2014

Monday, 24 February 2014

During the half term break some schools took the time to play a Danske Bank Ulster School’s’ Medallion Shield replay, a Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Plate game as well as a Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 2ndxv Plate game.

In the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Shield Quarter-Final replay the very determined Down High School Medallion team was delighted to record a well-deserved 15-12 win against Methodist College. The teams had played out a 5-5 draw in their first quarter-final encounter. Andrew McCullough put the Down High School team into a 7-0 lead with a try that was converted by Patrick Brown. This seemed to spur the Methody team into action and they scored a converted try, as well as an unconverted try, to take a 12-7 lead at the interval.

The Down High School team was undeterred by this and turned round to control the game in the second half. Zac Ward scored an excellent unconverted try to draw the game level at 12-12. The Down team continued to pressurise the visitors who inevitably gave away a penalty at a crucial time in the game. Up stepped Patrick Brown who converted the penalty to give his team a 15-12 lead. The Down High School team controlled the game until the final whistle ensuring they would be the team to go through, for the first time, to the Semi-Final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Shield.

The Semi-Finals of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Shield will see Royal Belfast Academical Institution play Sullivan Upper at Pirrie Park on Saturday 1stMarch while Ballymena Academy will play Down High School at Osbourne Park on Saturday 1st March.

In the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Plate competition, Omagh Academy defeated Dalriada School by 25-12.

In the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 2ndxv Plate competition, Coleraine Academical Institution defeated Ballyclare High School by 48-5. Foyle and Londonderry College 2ndxv recorded a 14-7 win against Lurgan College in the same competition.

There were four Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Quarter-Final, four Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield Quarter-Final and two Danske Ulster Schools’ Bowl Semi-Final games played on Saturday 22nd February.

The Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Quarter-Final game featuring Royal Belfast Academical Institution and Methodist College, Belfast was played in front of a huge crowd of enthusiastic supporters at Osbourne Park. The game, which was billed as the “Match of the Day”, was won narrowly by 8-6 by the Methodist College team. However, it was the RBAI team that controlled both territory and possession for large parts of the game and, in many ways, will be wondering how they managed to lose the game? They started the game strongly and took play deep into the Methody 22m area, on a number of occasions, early in the game. Rory Bell and Rory Campbell were at the centre of all that was positive from the Inst attack and the Methody defence seemed to be struggling at this stage. This pressure presented the home team with the opportunity to take the lead ten minutes into the game but a penalty kick attempt was missed. The Belfast Inst team had a second attempt some twelve minutes later but, once again, the penalty kick was missed. This seemed to give the Methody team a degree of confidence and they took play into Inst territory with their driving maul tactic paying dividends. The Methody backline, on occasions, was able to ask questions of the Belfast Inst defence but found that Rory Bell, Rory Campbell and Frazer Wright were in no mood to let anything through. That was until the thirty third minute of the first half when another Methody driven maul, with Michael Lagan, Steven Weir and Alex Thompson playing leading roles, was held up over the Belfast Inst line. Methody won the resultant scrum with their backrow going through a number of picks and drives. Quick ball was eventually produced which was used wisely by Josh Bingham. He produced a great pass to put Conor McKee in for an unconverted try and give his team a 5-0 lead at the break.

The Belfast Inst team continued to dominate proceedings in the opening exchanges of the second half and this early pressure paid off. The Methody team was penalised and Frazer Wright was successful with his penalty kick to reduce the arrears to 5-3, five minutes into the second half. Their backline was attacking at every opportunity with inside centre, Rory Bell, causing problems for the Methody defence. His hard work led to another Methody infringement but, somehow, the resultant kick was missed. However, the Methody team infringed from the restart and Frazer Wright was successful with his kick to give his team a deserved 6-5 lead sixteen minutes into the second half. However, this did not seem to faze the Methody team. They took play deep into Belfast Inst territory with Ireland U19 centre, Conor McKee, causing problems for the home team defence. His sublime off-load almost led to a Methodist College try. The Inst defence held them out but was penalised for a player working from an off-side position. Josh Bingham converted the penalty to put his team into a somewhat unlikely 8-6 lead going into the final quarter of the game. The Belfast Inst team attacked at every opportunity but missed two further penalty opportunities which could have won the game. However, it was not to be for the Royal Belfast Academical Institution team. Instead, it was the Methodist College team that celebrated their hard earned Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Quarter-Final victory, by 8-6, at the no-side whistle.

Coleraine Academical Institution had to work hard before they emerged as 10-9 winners against Ballyclare High School when the teams met in the Quarter-Final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup at the Castlerock Road venue. The Ballyclare High School team had the wind advantage in the first half and controlled the game in the opening quarter. Matthew McDowell was successful with a penalty kick to give his Ballyclare High School team a deserved 3-0 lead. From the restart Coleraine put in a sustained effort which proved difficult for the Ballyclare side to compete with. Multiple powerful runs from Coleraine AI forwards drew in the Ballyclare defence which allowed the Coleraine back three of Jake Scott, Brad Dempster and Johnny Crowe the opportunity to make good ground. This enabled the Coleraine AI side to play with the ball on the front foot and apply pressure to the Ballyclare defence for the first time in the game. Some great handling from the home back line resulted in number eight, Joel Stanbridge, making hard yards. He drew the last Ballyclare defender to great effect and passed to Mark Gordon who ran in to touch down for an unconverted try to give his Colerane AI team a 5-3 lead. The Ballyclare HS team captain, Matthew Brolly, asked his team for an all-out effort and they certainly did not disappoint. Ross Heyburn, Ross Johnston, their try scoring hero of the previous round,  Ryan McIlwaine, young No 8, Jack Magee and James Beattie all asked questions of the Coleraine AI defence at this stage of the game. Mathew McDowell was successful with his second penalty of the game to give the Ballyclare HS team a 6-5 lead. More Ballyclare HS pressure resulted in another Coleraine AI offence at the breakdown. Mathew McDowell was successful with his third penalty kick to see his team into a 9-5 lead at the break.

With the half time team talk ringing in their ears a different Coleraine side entered the second half. Now playing the game with greater intensity and at a much higher level Coleraine AI began to exert their dominance on their opponents. A great run from the Coleraine captain, Conor Shiels, in which he was stopped only a matter of feet from the Ballyclare line, led to a powerful carry from the supporting Coleraine AI prop Andy Moore. Andy took a number of Ballyclare High School players with him as he touched the ball down for an unconverted try to put his team into a 10-9 lead. Ballyclare High School recovered from this set back and laid siege on the Coleraine AI line. However, some great defending followed from Coleraine AI, with the pick of the tackling coming from Mark Gordon, who played outstandingly well with a “Man of the Match” performance. This prevented Ballyclare from regaining a foothold in the game. With only a matter of seconds remaining the home team was awarded a penalty kick. The kick was missed but it was irrelevant as the Coleraine AI team had done enough to record a hard earned 10-9 victory at the end of this tense Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Quarter-Final game.

Down High School hosted Sullivan Upper in front of a great crowd of supporters who witnessed the Down High School team play in a Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Quarter-Final game for the first time. In the opening exchanges it appeared the Down High School team was in no mood to respect the reputation of the opposition. They got among the Sullivan team and did not allow the Holywood boys to settle into any type of rhythm. However, despite putting points on the board via the trusty boot of Patrick Wright, the Down High School team was unable to maintain the pressure on the Sullivan Upper team and the Sullivan Upper team went on to win the game by 42-9. Once the Sullivan Upper team regained their composure after early setbacks, they scored three tries in the first half. Captain, Ross Todd, touched down for one try while David McMaster scored twice. Mark Adair added one conversion to give the Sullivan Upper team a 17-6 lead at the interval.

The Sullivan Upper team started the second half where they laid off in the first, on the attack. The Down High School did add three points from another Patrick Wright penalty to reduce the deficit to 17-9. Following this, it was strength and domination of the Sullivan Upper pack that paved the way for further tries. Josh Davidson, Chris Griffiths and a second try for the inspirational Ross Todd were chalked up on the score board. Mark Adair added two further conversions to leave the Sullivan Upper team as deserved 36-9 winners at the end of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Quarter-Final encounter. This victory sees a Sullivan Upper team take part in a Danske Bank Ulster Schoools’ Cup Semi-Final for the first time in the history of the school.

Campbell College and Wallace High School played out a most entertaining encounter when the teams met in the Quarter-Final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup at Fox’s Field. The Wallace High School team recorded a very close 12-10 victory against the Campbell College team. The Campbell College team started the game very strongly and had the Wallace High School defence on the back foot for long periods of time in the first half. Campbell College had opened up a 10-9 lead in the first half. One penalty and a converted try from Ireland U19 player, Jack Owens, accounted for the Campbell College points in the first half while the Wallace High School team responded with three Ryan Moore penalties.

The second half saw the Wallace High School team take control of the game with their pack attacking the opposition team at the set piece plays. This success allowed the Wallace HS half back partnership of Jonny Stewart and Ryan Moore to display good game management skills. They constantly pinned the Campbell College team back deep into their own territory which allowed the Wallace HS backs to attack the Campbell College line. Andrew Cardosi, Jacob Stockdale and Ben Finlay all came close but could not find a way through. However, the pressure was sufficient to cause the Campbell College team to give away penalties. Ryan Moore converted one of these second half penalties for the Wallace High School team which was enough to secure a narrow, but well-deserved, 12-10 victory at the end of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Quarter-Final game.

There were four Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield Quarter-Final games played on Saturday 22nd February.

Dalriada School recorded an impressive 22-0 win against Rainey Endowed School when the teams met in Ballymoney. The Ballymoney team controlled the possession and territory for large parts of the game and emerged as deserved winners. Despite repeated requests, no reports were received on this game!

In Ballymena, the Ballymena Academy team defeated Belfast High School by 31-14 in a hard fought game at the Old Galgorm Road venue. The Belfast High School team started the stronger of the two and took a deserved lead five minutes into the game. Jordan Garford picked a clever running line of a clever pass from Robbie Reid. The powerful Belfast HS centre made no mistake from fifteen minutes out and he ran in for a fine try. Robbie Reid added the conversion to give the Belfast High School team a 7-0 lead. Belfast High might have increased their lead further when a long range penalty attempt dropped agonisingly short. However, Andrew Magrath made no mistake with his first effort of the morning when he converted a penalty kick to reduce the deficit to 7-3. After this, Ballymena Academy began to exert their authority on the match and a well-executed Gary Small kick was eventually gathered by Justin Jolly who touched down below the Belfast High School posts.  Andrew Magrath was successful with his conversion kick to put his Mallymena Academy team into a 10-7 lead. Moments later, Ballymena Academy scored again when their young talented centre, Marcus Rea, powered his way over the Belfast High School line from close range. Andrew Magrath’s conversion took the score to 17 -7 as the half-time whistle sounded.

Early in the second half, Ballymena Academy threatened to add a crucial third score but Belfast High stayed in the game thanks to some excellent work in the lineout by Lewis Benson. Fifteen minutes into the second half, from an attacking scrum, Ballymena executed a play straight off the training park which culminated in a well-taken try by Jonny Rosborough. Andy Magrath converted the try and the Ballymena Academy lead increased to 24-7. A string of penalties conceded at the breakdown resulted in Ballymena losing a player to the sin bin, and, with ten minutes left on the clock, Belfast High School kept the game alive with an excellent converted try from Robbie Reid.  In the final five minutes, with the Shore Road boys trying to force the ball out of the tackle, a handling error was gathered by Andrew Magrath and the “Man of the Match” raced clear, from sixty metres out, to score and then convert his own try to leave the final score reading 31-14 to Ballymena Academy.

Royal School, Armagh hosted a Limavady Grammar School team they had defeated by 29-20 in a recent non Schools’ Cup game. Unfortunately for the RS Armagh team, there was to be no repeat of that result as the Limavady Grammar School team won this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield Quarter-Final clash by 19-9. It was the Limavady team who started the better of the two teams with their back line stretching their Armagh counterparts on a number of occasions. However, Armagh, with the wind at their back, gradually came into the game and were awarded a penalty, after twelve minutes, when Limavady infringed in a ruck.  Matthew Hooks converted the penalty opportunity to put his side into a 3-0 lead. Limavady came back strongly and their pack, which was dominating both the line out and the loose exchanges, won a penalty on sixteen minutes. Scott McLean stepped up and drew the teams level at 3-3 with a well struck penalty kick. Limavady continued to dominate and centres, Michael Barr and Jamie Millar, both sliced through the Armagh defence as did wingers, Tom McClelland and Sam Neill. However, on each occasion the final passes went astray and potential try scoring opportunities were lost. The RS Armagh team regained a 6-3 lead, after twenty minutes, when Matthew Hooks was successful with another penalty kick attempt after a Limavady GS player was caught off side at the side of a ruck. Back came Limavady with full back, Joel Stirling, breaking clear. Once again, the final pass did not reach the intended target and another try scoring opportunity was lost. Armagh responded immediately and, after good field position was gained, Matthew Hooks extended the lead to 9-3 with a close range penalty in front of the posts. Limavady again replied with a penalty through Scott McLean right on half time after an Armagh player had pulled down the Limavady maul down.

The Limavady coaches had strong words with their pack at half time and this worked as the Limavady players increased their efforts and the intensity at which the game was played. They kept the ball for long periods and there was little Armagh could do to stop the barrage of attacks coming their way. Sustained pressure on the Armagh line was finally rewarded when Sam Mackey touched down for a try. The conversion was missed but the Limavady GS deficit had been reduced to 9-8. Limavady were well and truly dominant at this stage of the game and ten minutes later their scrum half, Ross Allen, nipped in for another Limavady GS. The conversion was missed but the Limavady GS team had a 13-9 lead. Despite the best efforts of RS Armagh players such as James Johnston and Matthew Hooks the Limavady GS team defence was well-organised and not prepared to give anything away. It was the Limavady GS team that had the final say in the outcome of the game when Scott McLean converted two penalty opportunities to leave the Limavady Grammar School team as deserved 19-9 winners of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield Quarter-Final game.

Regent House hosted North Down rivals, Bangor Grammar School, in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield Quarter-Final game at the Circular Road venue, a game the Bangor Grammar School team won by 26-10. Despite taking an early 3-0 lead with a penalty from their outhalf, the Regent House team found the Bangor Grammar School attack difficult to contain. From that stage on it was the Bangor Grammar School team in the ascendancy. They scored three tries through Ross McCloskey, Shay Brennan and Andrew Shaw. Ross McCloskey added two conversions to see his team into a 19-3 lead at the interval.

The second half was a much more evenly contested affair. The Regent House team stepped their performance up a couple of gears. They attacked with renewed vigour and caused problems for a Bangor Grammar School defence that, until this stage, had been relatively untroubled. The Regent team got some reward for their endeavours when they scored a converted try to reduce the deficit to 19-10. Following this, the Bangor Grammar School regained their hold on the game. Team captain, Phil Broderick, scored a fine try which was converted by Ross McCloskey to put the Bangor team into a 26-10 lead. Both teams kept playing positively for the remainder of the game but there were no further scores thus ensuring a 26-10 win for the Bangor Grammar School team.

When all the results were known, the draws for the Semi-Finals of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield and the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup were completed. The draws were overseen by Mr Ian H Graham, Chairman of the Ulster Schools’ Committee and drawn by Mr David Croft, representative of the Danske Bank and Mr Stephen Black, Principals’ Representative on the Ulster Branch, IRFU.

The outcomes of the draws are as follows:-

Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield Semi-Finals

Limavady Grammar School      v      Ballymena Academy

Dalriada School                       v       Bangor Grammar School

These games are scheduled to be played on Saturday 8th March

Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Semi-Finals

Methodist College, Belfast        v        Wallace High School

This game is scheduled to be played on Tuesday 4th March at Queen’s University RFC with a 2-30pm kick off.

Sullivan Upper School                 v         Coleraine Academical Institution

This game is scheduled to be played on Thursday 6th March at Queen’s University RFC with a 2-30pm kick off.

There were two Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Bowl Semi-Finals played on Saturday 22nd February.

Lurgan College travelled to play Foyle and Londonderry College in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Bowl Semi-Final. The game was played in difficult conditions which impacted on both teams but it was the Foyle College team that won the game by 10-0. The home team started the game well and gave the Lurgan College team no time to settle. The Foyle and Londonderry College team scored within three minutes of the start of the game when their prop forward, Christopher Love, ran in for an unconverted try having taken advantage of an excellent interchange of play involving both forwards and backs. Having this 5-0 lead encouraged the Foyle College team to attack the Lurgan College line at every opportunity. However, the Lurgan College team did have an opportunity to reduce the deficit but a penalty kick was missed. Foyle missed a penalty as well and there were no further first half scores.

Two minutes after the restart the Lurgan College team had another penalty opportunity but the ball was blown off the tee as the kicker made his run up! Neither team really threatened the other until the closing stages of the game when the Foyle outhalf, Alex McDonnell, took advantage of some slack defence in the Lurgan team. Alex ran in for an unconverted try but this was sufficient to secure a hard earned 10-0 win for the Foyle and Londonderry College team and, with it, a place in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Bowl Final.

In the second Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Bowl Final Banbridge Academy hosted Omagh Academy and, despite going 7-0 down early in the game, recovered to record a 14-12 victory.  The Omagh Academy team started the game strongly and attacked at every opportunity. They were rewarded with their enterprising approach when Stewart Allen gathered a charged down kick and ran in for a try. Stuart Ballentine converted the try to give the Omagh team a 7-0 lead. At this stage of the game the Banbridge Academy team regrouped and forced the Omagh academy team into giving away needless penalties. Despite missing two penalty kicks, the Banbridge Academy full back, Daniel McElderry, was eventually successful with one penalty attempt to reduce the arrears to 7-3. Omagh Academy recovered and were unfortunate not to score following a great break from Adam Stephenson. Unfortunately for the Omagh team, his final pass was intercepted by Nathan McKinley who took the chance to run in for an unconverted try which gave the Banbridge Academy team an 8-7 lead at the break.

The second half was error strewn but it was the Banbridge Academy team that got the  first points of the half when he kicked a penalty to put his team into an 11-7 lead. Omagh Academy responded with a great break from Lloyd Kane which was finished by Adam Stephenson with an unconverted try in the corner to give the Omagh team a 12-11 lead.  Both teams pushed on and the ability of the Omagh Academy to give penalties away at critical times proved costly. With just five minutes remaining the Omagh Academy team gave away yet another penalty. Daniel McElderry stepped up to stroke the ball  over the cross bar and between the uprights to secure a narrow 14-12 win for his Banbridge Academy team and, with it, a place in the final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Bowl competition.

The Final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Bowl competition will take place at Dungannon Rugby Club on Wednesday 5th March when Foyle and Londonderry College will play Banbridge Academy. This game is scheduled to kick off at 2-30pm.

The Final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy competition will take place at Banbridge Academy on Wednesday 26th February when Royal School, Dungannon will play Wellington College. This game is scheduled to kick off at 2-30pm.