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Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Methodist College beat Sullivan Upper 27-12 to seal a third consecutive Danske Bank Schools’ Cup success, their 37th in the history of the competition.

They scored five tries in all, including a first half brace from centre Conor McKee, to gain victory over a Sullivan team who were appearing in their first ever final.

Methody looked strongest early on and their formidable pack worked their way through a number of solid phases in the Sullivan 22. Scrumhalf Frazer Wallace eventually released the ball to Josh Bingham, who fed his Ireland U19s colleague McKee to crash over underneath the posts. Bingham converted for an early 7-0 lead.

McKee added a second shortly after when he intercepted a loose pass and darted in from 40 metres out to touch down. Bingham was unable to add the extras but his side now had a 12-0 lead with little over 15 minutes on the clock.

Sullivan then hit back with a well worked try from winger Chris Jordan. The move was initiated when Mark Adair sent captain Ross Todd through a gap in midfield and he brought play into the opposition 22. The ball was quickly recycled and loose forward Dave Cave sent Jordan clear to dive in on the left hand side.

However that 12-5 scoreline didn’t last long as Methody, playing their best rugby of the competition thus far, responded with a third try just before the break. Alastair McIvor crossed for an unconverted score following a superb break from Bingham.

Half time score: Methodist College 17 Sullivan Upper 5

The Holywood schoolboys showed much more urgency at the start of the second half and were rewarded before long. Michael Cartmill and Adair combined brilliantly to find fullback Johnny Betts in space and he made his way over the whitewash. Adair converted to reduce the arrears to 17-12.

But Methody regained control with a long period of possession and territory in the Sullivan half. That spell included a driving maul from which Ben O’Reilly broke free and produced a sublime offload for Josh Jordan to cross in the left hand corner. Bingham missed the conversion but his team now held a ten point advantage.

Methody showed their ruthlessness with a clinical fifth try in the last play of the game. A neat set move from a scrum saw the ball move through the hands of Saul Herdman, Wallace and Conor Kelly, allowing Rory Cairns a simple run in.

That score sealed a 37th Danske Bank Schools’ Cup success for Methody and captain Michael Lagan was presented with the trophy by Lynne Robinson, wife of Ulster Branch President John Robinson, in front of the jubilant fans.

Credit must be given to Todd and his teammates, along with Willie Anderson and the rest of his coaching staff, for contributing significantly to the tournament.

Final score: Methodist College 27 Sullivan Upper 12

(15-9): C Kelly; R Cairns, A McIvor, C McKee, J Jordan; J Bingham, F Wallace;
(1-8): B O’Reilly, S Weir, M Lagan (capt), A Livingstone, A Thompson; C Boomer, M McKinney, S Herdman;
(16-23): J McCreanor, D Coulter, A Kilpatrick, R Cullen, Z Jordan, J McCollum, W Diamond, G Millar.

(15-9): J Betts; C Jordan, D McMaster, M Cartmill, R Spence; M Adair, C McEwan;
(1-8): C McEvoy, M Crockford, C Griffiths, M Clarke, J Davidson, D Cave, A Baillie, R Todd (capt);
(16-23): J Houston, C Jeffrey, P Cooper, F Jemphrey, Z Berthenshaw, H Harper, D Gilbert, M Nesbitt.