Danske Bank Ulster Schools and Age Grade Report Saturday the 12 of Sept 2015 by Barney McGonigle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Round Up Saturday 12th September 2015
There was one midweek fixture, as well as a number of Age Grade Inter-Provincial games, in the lead up to an almost full list of schools’ fixtures on Saturday 12th September.
On Wednesday 9th Lurgan College invited their near neighbours from Portadown College to play a game in celebration of the opening of new Sports Pavilion facilities at the Lough Road venue.
The Lurgan College team had lost a number of players to injury and Ulster Schools’ commitments prior to the game. The Portadown College boys were eager to get their season off to a good start following a very productive pre-season period. They started strongly enjoying some early possession and controlling most of the early set pieces. Their early dominance paid off following a long period of patient play which saw right wing, Daniel Smith, pop up on the left to run in a very well worked team score. The conversion was missed but the Portadown team had a 5-0 lead. Captain and outhalf, Michael Orr, controlled the game very well making numerous good decisions throughout the game. It was Michael who made a decisive break late in the first half and eventually release his centre, Matthew Neill, to run in for a simple score. Michael Orr converted to put his team into a 12-0 lead. The Portadown team continued to press for their third try but the resolute Lurgan College defence held firm to ensure the Portadown College team took their 12-0 lead into the break.
Portadown made a number of changes at half time which seemed to disrupt their control of the game. Lurgan created a number of scoring chances early on but resolute Portadown defending, particularly from the back row trio of Sam Whyte, Stuart Hodgen and James Wright, ensured the Portadown line remained intact. The Portadown line out functioned well throughout the game and it was from one such line out that set up an attacking opportunity for their back line to use. A series of plays saw centre, James Hewitt, power through for Portadown’s third try. The conversion was unsuccessful but the Portadown College team had built up a 17-0 lead. Portadown were now in control of proceedings and, following a midfield attack, Ryan Daly managed to offload to substitute back row, Jordan Taylor, to score under the posts. Michael Orr converted the try to increase the Portadown lead to 24-0. The Lurgan College team rallied well towards the end of the match and managed to score a deserved consolation try out wide when their winger, Peter Beck, outpaced the opposition defence to touch down for an unconverted try which left the final score reading 24-5 in favour of the Portadown College team.
Carrickfergus Grammar School and Larne Grammar School played out a 3 x 20 minute training game on Friday 11th September. The Carrickfergus team has lost the great majority of their successful team from last season and will embark on a rebuilding schedule over the next two seasons. The Larne Grammar School team, captained by Al Black, was dominant in the first and third sessions of this training game while the Carrickfergus GS team got some reward for their endeavours in the second session. Al Black was ably supported by players such as Jack Hill, Sam Wood, Jonathan Glasgow, Stuart Hagan, Lee Haddock and Adam Maguire all of whom showed up well in the course of the game for the Larne Grammar school team. Despite their lack of experience at this level, the Carrickfergus team played with commitment and determination with players such as Nathan Doherty and Jeremy Addley causing problems for the Larne GS defence, particularly in the second session.
The Ulster U20 team travelled to Galway to play Connacht U20’s in the second of the U20 Inter Provincial games. Despite losing by one point against the Munster U20 team in their first outing, hopes were high that the team might get their campaign underway with a positive performance at the Sportsground. Alas, it was not to be! The Ulster team did take a 3-0 lead when Andrew Magrath struck a penalty with just five minutes on the clock. Following this, with the prevailing weather conditions impacting on both teams, the Ulster team displayed an unerring ability to give away penalties at critical times and in critical areas of the pitch. The Connacht team drew level at 3-3 when Simon Keller converted a penalty opportunity midway through the first period of play. Further Ulster ill-discipline presented Simon with another kickable penalty opportunity just before the interval. He was successful with his kick to send the Connacht U20 team into a 6-3 lead at the break.
The Ulster team came out strongly at the start of the second half and set about taking the game to Connacht. They controlled all aspects of the game in the early stages of the second half but could not find any way through a resolute Connacht defence. Seven minutes into the second half the Ulster team lost possession in the opposition half and the Connacht team broke out of defence. Their impressive full back, Tim Carroll, caused problems with his direct lines of running and when he was tackled a clever off- load to his winger ended with Michael Boland touching down for a try. Simon Keller added the extras to increase the Connacht lead to 13-3. The Connacht team then took control of the game and, midway through the second half, they launched an attack from a 5m scrum. Tim Carroll caused more problems for the Ulster defence and he scored an unconverted try to increase the Connacht lead to 18-3. The early part of the final quarter of the game saw the Ulster team play to something like their undoubted potential and the got some reward for their endeavours when the pack took advantage of a Connacht prop being sent to the “bin” A well organised driven maul ended with team captain, Adam McBurney, touching down for an unconverted try to reduce the deficit to 18-8 with seven minutes remaining. However, the Ulster team was unable to build on this and it was the Connacht team that now took control for the remainder of the game. Two minutes later Simon Keller struck another penalty to increase the Connacht lead to 21-8. The Connacht team then put the result to rest when their hard working second row forward, Cillian Gallagher, scored a try, which Simon Keller converted, to leave the Connacht U20 team as deserved 28-8 winners at the end of this game.
The Ulster U19 met their Connacht counterparts at the Sportsground venue on Saturday 12th September. The Ulster team was disappointed with their narrow loss against Munster in their previous outing and set out to get some reward from this game. Captained by the impressive Marcus Rea from Ballymena Academy, the Ulster team wanted to set their stall out early. They did so and went on to record an impressive 45-18 win. Nine minutes into the game the Portora Royal School winger, Robert Balacoune, scored his first of four tries when he ran out from his own half to outpace the Connacht defence and touch down for the try. Paul Kerr added the conversion to put the Ulster team into a 7-0 lead. Seven minutes later, the Ulster pack took a scrum ball against the head. The dynamic back row trio of Marcus Rea, Zach Jordan and Jonny McKeown combined to send Jonny over the line for a try. Paul Kerr converted to put the Ulster team into a 14-0 lead. The spirited Connacht team responded immediately and caught Ulster unawares at the restart. The visitors were penalised and the Connacht outhalf, Luke Carty, stepped up to convert the resultant penalty and reduce the deficit to 14-3. Connacht lifted their game and started to ask questions of the Ulster defence. The Ulster defence, with the midfield trio of Paul Kerr, Josh Jordan and Calum McLaughlin getting through a lot of work, successfully withheld the waves of Connacht attacks. Indeed, it was the Ulster that got the next score when Robert Balacoune finished off a flowing move with his second try of the game. The conversion kick was unsuccessful but the Ulster team now had a 19-3 lead after twenty eight minutes. The Connacht team converted another penalty kick through Luke Carty to reduce the arrears to 19-6 but the Ulster team finished the half strongly when Andy McGregor finished a well worked counter attack with a try. Paul Kerr converted the try to give the Ulster team a deserved 26-6 lead at the interval.
The Ulster team started the second half in an impressive manner. They went on the attack and Robert Balacoune completed his “hat trick” of tries when he finished off a flowing attack, again from his own half. The conversion kick was unsuccessful but the Ulster lead was now 31-6 with just two minutes of the second half gone. The Connacht team was not going to sit back and got reward for their endeavours when the hard working Luke Carty ran in for an unconverted try to bring the scoreline to 31-11 seven minutes into the second period of play. Two minutes later the Ulster team scored another try when Josh Jordan crossed the Connacht line following a good interchange of play involving both forwards and backs. Paul Kerr added the extras to increase the Ulster lead to 38-11. Shortly after this Robert Balacoune scored his fourth try of the game, which Paul Kerr converted, to increase the Ulster lead to 45-11. For the next ten minutes the Connacht team took control of the game but got no change of an Ulster defence that worked hard to keep their line intact. The final quarter of the game saw both teams attempting to gain control of the ball but mistakes from both teams impacted on the game. With the last play of the game the Connacht team scored a try through Colm De Buitler which Luke Carty converted. This ensured it was the Ulster team that celebrated at the final whistle with a deserved 45-18 victory under their belts.
Meanwhile Belfast Harlequin’s RFC was the setting for the Schools’ Interprovincial game between the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ team and Leinster Schools. Having beaten Munster Schools last week, Leinster were looking for a victory which would give them the Championship title in this truncated tournament, with Connacht Schools withdrawing. The Leinster team won this closely contested game by 12-9 but not before the Ulster team had really put them to the test. Leinster kicked off towards the pavilion end and the first action saw Ulster lock, Alastair Burke (Ballyclare HS), hit a great line and make good ground before the ball was moved wide to RS Armagh winger, Josh Agnew, who scorched up his wing to gain valuable ground for his team. Subsequent pressure saw a succession of penalties to Ulster who kicked to the corner and continued to press, only to be curtailed by an Ulster forward going off his feet resulting in a penalty to Leinster who were thankful to clear their lines. The referee’s whistle dominated the next phases of the game where the Ulster scrum was beginning to dominate. One mighty surge put the Leinster 8 back four or five metres, strangely not penalised by the referee. This relentless pressure eventually told when the Ulster centre, Callum Smith, opened Ulster’s account with a well-directed penalty to give his team a 3-0 lead. Both sides showed great enterprise after this and a great driving maul by Leinster was just held out. The scrummage continued to give problems and a visibly mystified Leinster loose head prop, Cathal Duff, was yellow carded on the half time whistle.
Sullivan Upper winger, Chris Jordan came on for Ulster and almost scored with his first touch as he just put a foot in touch as he went for the corner. The scrum continued to be a constant source of strength for Ulster and another Leinster collapse resulted in Callum Smith kicking another penalty to give Ulster a deserved 6-0 lead early in the second half. Leinster came back and a penalty for hands in the ruck allowed a kickable penalty to Leinster, but fly half Byrne elected to find the corner. This decision was vindicated when the Leinster pack carried captain, Caelan Doris, over for the first try of the afternoon. The subsequent conversion was good and the Leinster now had a 7-6 lead. To add salt to the wounds, Ulster hooker, Alexander Clarke was yellow carded for allegedly bringing down the maul. Ulster Centre, Calum Smith, missed a long range penalty but was successful minutes later with an easier effort to put his team into a 9-7 lead. Ulster held out well with fourteen men and, when Alexander Clarke returned, the scrum pressure told again on Leinster when they were free-kicked twice and then penalised in the scrum. This time tight head Eoghan Clarke was yellow carded. However, Leinster came back and were rewarded with an eminently kickable penalty but fly-half Byrne missed badly. They continued to attack and poor management by Ulster resulted in an overlap which Leinster lock and captain, Caelan Doris, exploited to go over for his second try. The conversion was missed and Ulster attacked to no avail until referee Ken Imbusch blew for full time.
This will undoubtedly be a major disappointment to the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ players who were unable to convert their pressure into points. Leinster become Interprovincial Champions and Ulster travel to Cork next Saturday for the second place play off against Munster.
The Ulster U18 team put on a very brave performance against their Leinster counterparts at Rainey RFC and were devastated when the Leinster team won a 31-28 thriller with a successful last minute penalty kick.
The Age Grade Inter Provincial games impacted greatly on a number of teams who played schoolboy friendly fixtures on Saturday 12th September. Chief among these was the Ballymena Academy team who played Wallace High School. With more than half their team unavailable due to the Schools and U19 Inter Pro games the Ballymena Academy team will have been delighted to defeat last season’s Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup finalists by 10-3. That “doyen” of Ulster Rugby referees, Mark Orr, added considerably to the game by astute use of the advantage laws and both sets of players expressed their appreciation of the referee’s performance after the game. The game which was watched by a large group of supporters, including the recently appointed Chairman of the IRFU Rugby Committee, former King’s Scholar’s RFC, Ulster and Ireland player, Ian McIlrath, was played at a high intensity by both teams.
In a tightly-contested game, Ballymena Academy started the stronger and were unlucky not to score in the opening five minutes. A line break from Ryan Malcolm created space for Alan Small but the covering Wallace defence stopped the Ballymena centre just short of the line. Following a period of sustained pressure scrum half, Conor Cosgrove, spotted a gap to touch down for the opening try of the morning. Bruce Houston added the extras to put the home team into a 7-0 lead. As the first half progressed, Wallace High began to dominate possession but the well-organised Ballymena defence was a match for the Wallace team’s aggressive running. Just before the half-time whistle, Ballymena could have increased their lead but a ‘double movement’ in the process of touching down denied Azur Allison the score.
In the second half, both teams continued to show a willingness to keep the ball in hand and this, along with the positive refereeing, allowed for long periods of entertaining rugby. Midway through the half, Ballymena were awarded a kickable penalty and Bruce Houston made no mistake to increase the home team’s lead to 10-0. Late in the game, Wallace replied with a penalty but Ballymena Academy finished strongly as the score remained 10-3 until the final whistle sounded.
Friends’ School, Lisburn entertained the Royal School, Dungannon team in a game which saw the RS Dungannon team lose two players to U19 duty and the Friends’ School team lose three players to injury prior to the game. The players that came in did well for both teams in a game the Friends’ School team won by 28-14. Friends’ opened their scoring through Gareth Hill who ran in for a try, which was converted by Ryan Hall, to give the Friends’ School team a 7-0 lead. The RS Dungannon team responded with a try from Aaron Perry, which Peter Cranston converted, to draw the game level at 7-7. The Friends’ School team then regained the lead when Curtis Dundas, a member of the extended Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ pre-season panel, outwitted the opposition defence to run in for a try. Ryan Hall added the conversion to give the Friends; School team a 14-7 lead. Once again, the RS Dungannon team showed great determination and they drew the scores level when Peter Cranston dummied his way through the Friends’ School defence to touch down for a try which he converted himself. This ensured the teams were level at 14-14 at the break.
The Friends’ School team dominated proceedings for large parts of the second half and their enterprising approach was rewarded with tries from Adam Milligan and Ryan Hall. Ryan converted both tries to see his team into a 28-14 lead. The RS Dungannon team threw everything into attack in the final minutes of the game but could find no way through a well-organised Friends’ School defence. There were two Year 12 debutants on the Friends’ School team and both Ross Stewart and George Pringle caught the eye with their performances. The experience of players such as Adam Milligan and Ryan Hall also contributed greatly to the deserved 28-14 Friends’ School victory.
The Sullivan Upper team was missing a couple of players on Inter Pro duty when they played a Methodist College that was severely understrength due to representative calls up. In a fine game of schools’ rugby the Sullivan Upper team emerged as 12-10 winners.
Portora Royal School travelled to play Foyle and Londonderry College in a game the Portora team, despite their inexperience, won by 18-10. The Portora captain, Matthew McCabe, opened the scoring with an unconverted try to put his team into a 5-0 lead. The Foyle team replied with an unconverted try to draw the game level at 5-5. Portora RS regained the lead when their hard working prop, Jack Wilson, barged over the opposition line from close range to touch down for an unconverted try and give his team a 10-5 lead. Once again the Foyle team recovered and scored an unconverted try to leave the scoreboard reading 10-10 at the interval.
The Portora RS team raised their level of performance, especially in defence, in the course of the second half. They ensured their line remained intact and scored a third unconverted try through Andrew Khew to give them a 15-10 lead. Further Portora Royal School pressure resulted in them securing a penalty which Matthew Dane converted to secure the 18-10 victory against a spirited Foyle and Londonderry College team.
Grosvenor Grammar School played Dalriada School in a close encounter at the Cameronian Drive venue. In a game which ebbed and flowed at times it was the Dalriada team that emerged as 17-15 winners. Both teams took some team to settle into the game which was played in wet conditions. There were a lot of early mistakes but it was the Grosvenor GS team that struck first when full back, Daniel Martin, finished of some good work from his inside backs with an unconverted try in the corner twenty minutes into game. The Grosvenor team held unto this 5-0 lead until half time.
The Grosvenor backline was causing problems for the Dalriada team in the early stages of the second half. However, an attempted skip pass was intercepted by a Dalriada player who gratefully took the ball over the Grosvenor line to touchdown for a try. The try was converted and the Dalriada team had a 7-5 lead. Dalriada then increased this lead to 14-5 when they ran the ball from their own half to run in for a converted try. The Grosvenor team responded with a Daniel Martin penalty to reduce the arrears to 14-8. Shortly after this a cross field “kick pass” was gleefully accepted by Thomas Quinn who touched down for the try. Daniel Martin added the conversion to see his team into a 15-14 lead. With just one minute of the game remaining a Grosvenor infringement at a ruck resulted in a penalty opportunity for the Dalriada team. Angus Johnston stepped up to slot the ball over the bar and between the uprights to secure a 17-15 victory for his Dalriada team.
Portadown College and Banbridge Academy played out a 3 x 20 minutes training game in which the Portadown team used nineteen players and the Banbridge Academy team used 27 players. Portadown started well but could not penetrate the Banbridge defence. Following a series of off side decisions Portadown found themselves deep inside their own territory against the run of play. Their defence held strong and, following a Banbridge infringement, Michael Orr cleared the line effectively to seal a line out on half way. From the resultant line out Portadown made good ground and, following a decisive break from captain, Michael Orr, their influential Number 8, Stuart Hodgen, crashed over for the opening try to give his team a 5-0 lead. This early score was quickly followed by a second as Portadown began to dominate the set pieces. Following a great turnover steal from Stewart Hodgen, Portadown attacked down the blind side to create an opportunity for their centre, Daniel Smith, to crash over a try which Michael Orr converted to give his team a 12-0 lead at the end of the first period of play.
The middle third saw no further score as both sides made a number of changes. Portadown threatened to score but Banbridge defence held firm.
In the third session Banbridge started the stronger and were quickly rewarded with a well worked score when Toby Baxter ran in for an unconverted try to take the score to 12-5. This seemed to spur Portadown into raising their game which resulted in some excellent positional kicking from Michael Orr. These kicks pinned Banbridge back deep inside their own half. Michael Orr converted a penalty opportunity following a Banbridge infringement at a ruck. This was followed closely by another Michael Orr penalty to secure an overall 18-5 win for the Portadown College team.
Ballyclare High School and Belfast Royal Academy were both impacted upon by the Age Grade Inter Pro games when the teams met in a game the Ballyclare High School team won by 13-6.
Rainey Endowed School and Regent House played out a thrilling game which the Regent House team won by 29-24. The Rainey team had built up a 12-5 lead by the break through tries from Adam Currie and Lorcan Quinn. Lorcan converted one of these tries to put his team into a 12-0 lead. Just before the break the Regent team scored an unconverted try to reduce the arrears to 12-5 at the break.
Early in the second half the Regent team scored their second unconverted try of the morning to close the gap to 12-10. Rainey responded with a second Adam Currie try, which was not converted, to increase their lead to 17-10. Regent then scored a third unconverted try to take the scoreboard to 17-15. Back came Rainey with a Neal Hastings try, which Lorcan Quinn converted, to increase the Rainey Endowed School lead to 24-15. Rainey then lost a couple of players to minor injuries and the Regent team took full advantage. They scored two converted tries, in the last four minutes of the game, to secure their 29-24 victory.
Omagh Academy made the journey to play Down High School in a game the Omagh Academy team won by 20-18. The Omagh team took some time to settle into the game and found themselves 8-0 down early on. Despite losing two players to Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ duty, the home team made effective use of their line out to score an unconverted try which was followed closely by a successful penalty kick. The Omagh Academy team then started to grow into the game with their set piece starting to get the upper hand at scrum time. Year 12 player, Glenn McKinley, took advantage of a well-organised set piece lineout and touched down for an unconverted try to reduce the deficit to 8-5 at the break.
Omagh got off to the best possible start early in the second half. James Longwell drove through would be tacklers to touch down for a try. Kyle Beattie converted the try to put the Omagh team into a 12-8 lead. Ryan Gibson then took advantage of good work from Neil Logan and Matthew Clyde to run in for a try in the corner. The try was not converted but the Omagh Academy lead was now 17-8. Kyle Beattie extended this to 20-8 when he converted a penalty opportunity with a drop kick having unsuccessfully tried to place the ball twice on the kicking tee! Down High School finished the game strongly and scored a converted try following a well-organised driven maul after a lineout. A penalty shortly after this took the scoreboard to 20-18 but it a case of “too little, too late” for the Down High School team as it was the Omagh Academy team that celebrated their hard earned 20-18 victory after the final whistle.
Royal Belfast Academical Institution defeated Belvedere College by 10-8, Campbell College lost at home to St Gerard’s College from Bray by 22-10, Coleraine Grammar School defeated Cambridge House by 10-0, Royal School, Armagh lost at home by 31-5 against Bangor Grammar School and Limavady Grammar School travelled to Belfast High School and won by 12-5.

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