Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Round Up Saturday 18th March 2017
The Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield final was played at the Queen’s University Arena on Monday 13th when Ballyclare High School and Down High School met in an entertaining game which the Down High School team won by 19-13. The game was played in front of a huge gallery of enthusiastic supporters on a pitch ideal suited to running rugby.
The Down High School team took a 7-0 lead when Harry Hitchens, who had shown a clean pair of heels to Ballyclare High School defenders on a number of occasions in the opening exchanges, eventually broke clear and touched down for a try which Greg Hutley converted. This lead was extended to 12-0 when the Down High School forwards and backs combined to send Harry McConnell in for an unconverted try. Towards the end of the first half some positive Ballyclare High School play was rewarded when they forced Down High School into conceding a penalty. Adam Clarke stepped up to convert the penalty to leave the scoreboard reading 12-3 in favour of the Down High School team at the interval.
The Ballyclare High School team had the wind in their backs in the course of the second half. Initially they made good use of the wind in the opening stages of the second period of play. They gained some possession linked to territorial advantage mainly through some great work from their prop, Jonny Crockett, who displayed some impressive skills with his ball carrying, passing and off-loading in the tackle. This provided the opportunity for Jake McVicker to combine with Adam Clarke who cut a great line before running in for a try. The conversion was unsuccessful but the Ballyclare High School deficit had been reduced to 12-8. The Down High School team came back strongly and took play deep into Ballyclare High School territory. Alex Martin stole a Ballyclare High School lineout and, from the resultant driven maul, Michael Harper drove the ball over the Ballyclare line. Greg Huntley added the conversion to give the Down High School team a 19-8 lead. Ballyclare High School fought valiantly to get back into the game but the Down High School defence held firm. Both teams made judicious use of their replacements bench and, with the final play of the game, the Ballyclare High School No 8, James Nelson, touched down for an unconverted try to leave the final score reading 19-13 in favour of the Down High School team.
After the game John McKibbin, President of the Ulster Branch and member of the IRFU, congratulated both teams on reaching the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield final, thanked the players for all their hard work during the season and for their positive input to the entertaining game, thanked the coaches and the parents of the players for their all their hard work and support throughout the season, thanked the referee, Christopher Lough, and his assistants, for the manner in which they controlled the game, thanked Queen’s University for the provision of such excellent facilities and hosting the game and thanked the Danske Bank for their continued support of Ulster Schools’ Rugby. John then presented Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield medals to all the players and the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield to Claytan Milligan, captain, of the victorious Down High School team.
On Wednesday 15th March the annual Gary Clarke Memorial Cup competition took place under the floodlights at Lurgan Rugby Club when Banbridge Academy, Lurgan College, Friends’ School, Lisburn and Portadown College played out a series of games in a round robin tournament. Lurgan College drew 0-0 with Friends’ School in the group stage before going on to defeat Portadown College by 10-7 and Banbridge Academy by 10-0. Jack Dunn scored a try against Potadown College with Scott Wilson adding a conversion as well as a penalty. Dylan Nelson scored the Portadown try with Matthew Neill adding the conversion. Lurgan College fielded six Year 11 pupils against Banbridge Academy, who were also playing with a very young team, with Luke Forsyth and Mark Wilson scoring the tries in the game.
Friends’ School had David Newell, Chris Nesbitt and Bradley Mulholland to thank for scoring tries in their 19-3 win against Banbridge Academy. Ben McCaughey kicked two conversions in that game before going on to score a try, as well as kick the conversion, in the Friends’ School 7-0 win against Portadown College
The final game in the competition saw Lurgan College take on Friends’ School. This game went down to the wire with a last minute drop goal from Ben McCaughey securing a 3-0 win for the Friends’ School, Lisburn team.
All the players involved would like to thank Lurgan Rugby Club for organising the games and hosting the tournament.
Friday 17th March saw the “Blue Riband” event of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Rugby calendar take place at the Kingspan Stadium when the Royal Belfast Academical Institution team met the Methodist College, Belfast team in the final of the 2016/17 Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup.
The Royal Belfast Academical Institution team has made it three Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup titles in a row following a compelling final win over rivals Methodist College, Belfast at Kingspan Stadium on Friday afternoon. It was the reigning champions who had the opening scoring opportunity on three minutes but James Hume’s goal kick pulled wide to the left in the swirling wind. The first try of the game came on fifteen minutes for the holders when the Belfast Inst pack wore down the Methody defence before scrum-half, Rhys O’Donnell, sniped over from close range. James Hume made light of the wind, converting magnificently from the sideline to give his team a 7-0 lead. Belfast Inst’s second try came on twenty three minutes courtesy of a perfectly executed rolling maul with lock, David McCann, touching down over the whitewash for an unconverted try to open a 12-0 lead for the Royal Belfast Academical Institution team. A minute later Methody out-half, Thomas Armstrong, made a rare break into the Inst 22m area but his offload to Paul Kerr was judged to have gone forward. Methody did charge down as Inst attempted to clear but were then penalised for going over the top when Michael Lowry cleaned up the loose ball. Methody continued to dominate field position for the remainder of the first half and were rewarded with a try on thirty four minutes. After several phases of picks and drives from the Methody forwards, play was switched from right to left for winger Chris Larmour to dive over in the corner. Paul Kerr’s conversion attempt was struck well but drifted just wide. This ensured the Belfast Inst team took a leaving 12-5 lead into the halftime break.
Both sides were temporarily reduced to fourteen men in the opening ten minutes of the second half with one player from each team seeing yellow for high tackles. However, it was Methody who made the early ground. It looked like Chris Larmour was in for another try on forty seven minutes but he was denied by a superb combination tackle from fullback, Joseph Finnegan, and captain, Michael Lowry as he drove for the corner. Methody continued to control possession inside their opponent’s half and, when Bekfast Inst were penalised at the breakdown inside the 22m area, Paul Kerr gratefully accepted the simple penalty on fifty seven minutes closing the deficit to 12-8 as the forecasted rain finally started to come in. The score seemed to spark Belfast Inst back into life as they piled wave after wave of pressure on to the Methody defence deep inside the 22m area but the ball was eventually knocked forward. Methody chose to try and run the ball out from the resulting scrum but were forced down behind their own try line. However, Inst were unable to capitalise on the 5m put-in as the ball was knocked forward from the back of the scrum. Once again Methody neglected the option to kick and the Inst pressure contained their opponents inside their 22m area where they turned over possession once more with the game entering the final minutes. Belfast Inst used all their experience in the closing stages, holding on to possession in close quarters as the clock ticked past the seventy minute mark, before the ball was booted into the grandstand to spark the winning celebrations with the Royal Belfast Academical Institution team having secured their 12-8 victory .
Royal Belfast Academical Institution Team:
(15-9): Joseph Finnegan, Zak Davidson, James Hume, David Lyttle, Niall Armstrong, Michael Lowry (Capt), Rhys O’Donnell;
(1-8): Callum Reid, Neil Saulters, Matthew Nelson, Dermot Wallace, David McCann, Patrick Finnegan, Charlie Cloke, Yasser Omar.
Replacements (16-23): Connor McCormick, Pierce McLernon (for Wallace 48), Ethan Sloan, Bailey Gribben for (Nelson 55), Ethan Field (for McCann 66), Angus Adair (for Cloke 59), Robin McIlveen (for O’Donnell 68), Sam Fryers (for Lowry 47).
Methodist College, Belfast Team:
(15-9): Kane Doherty, Ethan McIlroy, James McConnell, Paul Kerr, Chris Larmour, Thomas Armstrong, Johnny Jordan;
(1-8): Daire Morelli, Josh Trainor, Ben Crangle, Jonah Bingham, Hugh Gibbons, Cameron Kelly, Matty Loane (Capt), Thomas Gallagher.
Replacements (16-23): Calum Conn, Emmanuel Gentry, Conor Fletcher, Kevin McNaboe (for Gallagher 68), Conor Kelly, Matthew Neill, Louis Millar (for McIlroy 66), Louis Lowry.
The Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ season will finish off in the next week after the Royal School, Armagh Medallion team plays the Friends’ School, Lisburn Medallion team in the final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Shield and the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Seven-a-Side competitions are held.
The Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Shield final is scheduled to take place at the Kingspan Stadium on Wednesday 22nd March at 2-30pm.
The final competition of the 2016/17 Ulster Schools’ season will take place at Campbell College, Belfast when the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Sevens Tournaments take place on Saturday 25th March.
Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Round Up Saturday 18th March 2017