Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 Previews!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! By Barney McGonigle ~ 12 Teams, 6 Previews, 6 Will go Through!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! KO 10.30 This Saturday @ A Svchool Near You!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ~ RS Dungannon v Wellington C, Foyle C v Portora RS, Belfast HS v Banbridge A, Carrickfergus GS v Lurgan C, Antrim GS v Friends’, Regent H v Larne GS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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There are six Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 games scheduled to take place on Saturday 12th January 2013.

The Royal School, Dungannon team will host Wellington College on the WK Armstrong pitch at the Royal School.

The Dungannon team had a difficult start to the season due to the number of players unavailable for selection because of injury. However, the team worked hard under the astute coaching of Keith Patton, assisted by Gareth Lucas and Jonny Willis, to overcome their problems. With players returning from injury and a large number of younger players adapting to the demands of 1stxv rugby, the results started to come. The quality of the team came through strongly in a recent wins against Regent House and Down High School. The Down High School win was witnessed by a visiting Wellington College coach who cannot fail but to have been impressed with the RS Dungannon performance. Jacob McCammond leads his team well and receives great assistance from experienced players such as David Leyland, Matthew Montgomery and Jack Milligan.The Wellington College team has come into the second round of the cup for the first time in recent seasons. Previous to this they have entered at Round 1 and in the past few seasons have managed to go as far as Round 3. Can they get as far once again? They went on tour to Italy and the end of October and won two games against local opposition. These results have given the squad great confidence and they will approach the game in Dungannon with a positive mindset. Coach, Peter Chambers, assisted by Gareth Montgomery and Mark O’Connor, will rely heavily on the experience of team captain, Michael Hamilton who, despite being a full back, will play in the critical outhalf position. He will have talented players such as Kier Patterson, Owen Jarvie and Josh Garnham close to hand. If the Wellington forwards such as Sam Bridge, David Montgomery and Matthew Gowen can get a good supply of ball to their backline the RS Dungannon defence will have to be well-organised. This game is scheduled to kick off at 11-00am.

Foyle and Londonderry College host a Portora Royal School team they have played twice already this season.

On the first occasion the Portora RS won the game while the Foyle College team won the return match. The Foyle College coaching staff of David Barnett and Ian Menown has had to overcome loss of players to injury and Interprovincial representation earlier in the season. Things started slowly but the team displayed some great form in October when they went on an unbeaten run for six games. Neil Burns is an important player for the team as are Kyle Henderson, the team captain, Patrick Leeson and Ryan Curry. RDS players such as Niall Adair and Ben Christie will be expected to put in big performances in the Cup campaign. If the Foyle team clicks on the day, they could have too much for the Portora RS team to contain.
The Portora team, coached by Adrian Walker, started the season well recording some good wins against Regent House, Foyle College and Belfast High School. Since those early season wins, the young Portora team has struggled somewhat to achieve a series of positive results. They have a strong, mobile pack with Vice-Captain, Oliver Gamble, leading from the front. He gets good support from colleagues such as 2nd Row forward, Gary Thornton, an Irish Rower, John Clarke, son of Portora RS legend, Raymond, and Charles McClean and Eric Elliott in the back row. In the backs, Portora players to look out for are James Stevenson, Robert Connor and Nathan Richmond. All three are prolific try scorers and like nothing more than to get their hands on the ball. If they do, they might upset the odds in this game which is scheduled to kick off at 11-00am.

Belfast High School will host Banbridge Academy at the Shore Road venue in a game that is scheduled to kick off at 10-30 am.

The High School team is relatively young but a team that has recorded some excellent results in the course of the season so far. The have a number of representative players available for selection. Lewis Benson is a very athletic 2nd Row forward who will expect to get good possession from the lineouts while Jordan Garford is a strong ball carrying centre who also has an eye for a gap. The Banbridge defence will need to monitor him closely. Joel McBride, son of the former Ulster and Ireland backrow forward, Denis, is a very clever outhalf who displays great game management skills. Robbie Reid is another Belfast High School player who thrives with the ball in hand and has the ability to exploit even the smallest of gaps.
The Banbridge Academy team has a number of very talented players who feel they have not really achieved the results they should have this season. Calum Boardman and Tom Carlisle are two excellent props, with Calum having already been identified as a potential Ulster U19 player next season. Ross Williamson, in the 2nd Row, has been among the try scorers for his team this season while Rory Carson and Ethan Harbinson form an effective break away trio with team captain, David McKeown. Rory is a son of cricketing legend, Jimmy, and is joined in the squad by his brother Ben. Ethan is a son of former Ulster player, Bill. Daniel McElderry, the Banbridge Academy full back, will convert any penalty opportunities that come his way while Rory Thompson has scored a lot of tries already this season. However, it is Aaron Kennedy, whether he plays at scrum half or outhalf, the Belfast High School defence will need to watch. Aaron has been capped at Ulster Schools’ and Ulster U19 level and is an international Schools’ cricketer.
Belfast High School will see themselves as favourites to win this game but the Banbridge Academy team has the potential to cause an upset.

Carrickfergus Grammar School will host a Lurgan College team they defeated narrowly when the two teams met earlier in the season at the North Road venue.

Coach, Gareth McClintock, who is assisted by Peter Martin, realises the team is a young team but one that is full of potential. They have recorded some impressive results this season and will be looking for another one on Saturday. Joel Bell is team captain and he can rely on the emerging skills of RDS players such as full back, Christian Robinson, scrum half Michael Black and 2nd Row forward, Scott Henderson. Twins, Kris and Reece Berry display a tremendous work ethic in both attack and defence during games while the Lurgan College team might wish to pay attention to the try scoring exploits of Robert O’Callaghan who has scored a few tries this season, including five in one game! The Carrickfergus Grammar School squad has worked hard in preparation for the Cup campaign. They travelled to Portugal for a training camp and matches. They will see themselves as favourites for this game.
The Lurgan College team will travel to Carrickfergus quietly confident they can pull off a shock result. They lost in the last minute of their previous game and the coaching staff of Neil Ross, the experienced Brian Hanna and Brian Faith, will be confident they have provided their charges with sufficient strategies to get the result they feel they are capable of. Dean Wilson, the team captain, is a dynamic player who gained representative honours as an U17 player. Dean is equally at home in the back row as he is in the centre and player availability will impact on where he is selected. Mark McIlwaine is a talented centre who has been an RDS member. There is a strong link with Lurgan RFC where Mark’s father, Neil, has been a stalwart for many seasons as has Dickie Davis, father of the Lurgan College scrum half, Drew. Jack Harrison in the Lurgan College 2nd Row has a fine sporting pedigree as his father is the legendary Shane Harrison of Waringstown and Ireland cricketing fame. Brothers Matthew and Benjamin Gilbert are expected to start at full back and 2nd Row respectively. The Lurgan College team is a young team, like their opponents. A lot will depend on which team can adapt to the demands of Schools’ Cup rugby on the day. This game is scheduled to kick off at 10-30am.

It will be a busy morning at Antrim Grammar School on Saturday 12th January. It is the school Open Morning and the 1stxv will host Friends’ School in the Schools’ Cup game which is scheduled to kick off at 11-00am.

The Antrim Grammar School team, captained by hooker, Adam Watt, will be confident of winning the game. There will be a large crowd of supporters in attendance and a win would see them in the draw for the 3rd Round of the Schools’ Cup for the first time in the history of the school. (The draw for the 3rd Round will take at Antrim Grammar School when all results are through) Coach, Bryan Baguely, assisted by Michael Ferguson and Randalstown RFC’s Alistair Strange, will be hoping the importance of the occasion will not impact on the performance of his young players. All but five of the squad are due to return next season. They have recorded some good results this season and players such as flanker, Mark Strange, outhalf, Chris McColdrick and centre Matthew McWhinney, have been playing consistently well. The team has been boosted by the return of centre, Jamie Orr and 2nd Row, Adam Patterson, from injury. This could see the Antrim team assume the tag of favourites in this game
The Friends’ team has had a mixed season so far in terms of results. A recent good win against Lurgan College was dampened by a number of injuries which means some experienced players will miss the Schools’ Cup game. Team coach, Stephen Robinson, who is assisted by the evergreen Norman Gamble and Chris Henderson, will be hoping the loss of a number of players to injury will not impact too seriously on his players. Acting captain, Jack Ravey, brings a degree of representative experience to the team while his vice-captain, Peter Ferguson, has played in big games for the Ireland Schools’ cricket team. Dean Howes, Peter Simpson and Dylan Lewis have been regular try scorers in the course of the season while Zac Finlay has adapted well to the demands of senior schools’ rugby in recent games. Steven Cooke and Jack McMullan have returned to the playing fields following their recent success in a Friends’ School production of Joseph. They will hope for a starting place on Saturday.

Regent House find themselves in the unusual position of coming into the Schools’ Cup at this stage.

They host Danske Ulster Bank Schools’ Cup Round 1 winners, Larne Grammar School. The Regent House team has struggled in terms of consistency for most of the current season. They have had to contend with an unusually large number of injuries and losing games, they should have won, by the narrowest of margins. The Regent team has a number of quality players at their disposal. Scrum half, Gareth Wright, is the team captain. He has been a member of the U18 Development squad. His half back partner, Peter Eakin, is a talented player who has also excelled in his cricket career having played for Ulster and Ireland Schools as well as North Down 1st xi. Aaron Culbert is an exciting centre and the Larne Grammar School will need to monitor this trio closely. Regent House coaches, Eric Sinnamon, Peter Lowry and Steven Cole, will see their team as clear favourites to win the game and a recent win against a very good Omagh Academy team will confirm the Regent House status as favourites.
The Larne Grammar School team will come into the game confident they can cause an upset. They have come through a Schools’ Cup already and the experience gained could stand them in good stead. They won that game on the back of good performances from a dominant back row trio of Ethan Kerr, Connor Connolly and James Bell. Team captain, Connor Weir, leads from the front. The back division is held together by their talented outhalf, Sam McIlwaine, who can call upon the services of the Ringland brothers, Jack and Adam, nephews of the former Ulster, Ireland and Lion’s winger, Trevor. Team coach, Jonny Lowe, who is assisted by Barry Kirkpatrick, Stephen Snoddy and Peter Dundee, knows it will be a tough task to win at the Circular Road venue. However, the Larne team, having come through their Round 1 encounter, will draw upon the experience that success generated and will hope to provide considerable opposition for the Regent House team. This game is scheduled to kick off at 10-30am.
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