Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Round Up Saturday 19th September 2015 by Barney McGonigle

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Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Round Up Saturday 19th September 2015
There were two midweek games played in the lead up to the last of the Age Grade Interprovincial games as well as an almost full list of school friendly games on Saturday 19th September
Banbridge Academy hosted the Royal School, Armagh team in a midweek game the RS Armagh team won by 33-5. The home started the game well and took a 3-0 lead when Ben Thompson was successful with a penalty kick midway through the first half. The RS Armagh team responded positively and took a 5-3 lead five minutes later when Matthew Killic ran in for an unconverted try. Coming up to the interval the Banbridge Academy team was pressurising the RS Armagh line but a breakaway try from William Hazelton, to which he added the conversion, gave the visitors a 12-3 lead at the break.
Despite the best efforts of Banbridge Academy players such as Peter Heaney, Ben Russell and Ben Thompson, there was little they could do to prevent the RS Armagh team from scoring three second half tries. Matthew Killic touched down for his second try of the game after forty five minutes, Peter Wilson touched down after fifty minutes and Peter Grant capped a fine personal performance with a try on the stroke of full time. William Hazelton converted all three tries to ensure his Royal School; Armagh team finished the game as 33-3 winners.
Methodist College, Belfast and Down High School were missing front line players due to calls up to the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ and the Ulster U19 teams when the teams met in a midweek fixture at Pirrie Park. In a closely contested encounter the Down High School team made the Methodist College “Select” xv team work hard for their 17-11 victory. The young Down High School team all played well but there were notable performances from Harry McCormick in the front row, Lewis Canning and Matthew Porter in the backrow, Charlie Power in the centre and Year 12 winger, Ronan Patterson.
The Down High School team missed an early penalty opportunity before the Methody team opened their account with an unconverted try to give them a 5-0 lead. The try came about when consistent pressure from the MCB pack eventually created an overlap opportunity which the backline exploited and Hugh Gibbons got the touch down. The Down High School team reduced the deficit to 5-3 when Paddy Browne converted a penalty opportunity. Close to halftime a well-organised Methodist College driven maul secured a try through Owen Winters, which was converted by Louis Lowry, to give the home team a 12-3 halftime lead.
Fifteen minutes into the second half the Down HS winger, Marcus Graham, showed great pace to finish off a well-constructed backline attack and touch down for an unconverted try to take the score to 12-8 in favour of the home team. A few minutes later a second Paddy Browne penalty saw the score board reading 12-11. However, the potential for a shock result was averted when clinical MCB attack play caused confusion in the Down High School ranks. Kane Doherty took advantage of the confusion to run in for an unconverted try and secure a 17-11 victory for the Methodist College team.
The Ulster U20 team played the last of their U20 Interprovincial games when they faced a strong Leinster U20 team at Donnybrook on the evening of Friday 11th September. Having lost narrowly against Munster U20’s, and heavily against Connacht U20’s, this was an opportunity for the Ulster boys to rescue what has been a disappointing season in terms of results. Despite losing the game by 31-12 there was enough about the Ulster performance to suggest the hard work put in by both the players and management over the summer period had resulted in the members of the squad developing as talented rugby players.
The game started off at a frenetic pace with the Leinster team willing to attack at every opportunity. The Ulster defence held firm but the team did find it difficult to get their hands on the ball for any considerable period of time. Fifteen minutes into the game the Ulster team did manage to get some quality possession in the Leinster 22m area. They pressurised the Leinster team into giving away a penalty which the Ulster team put into touch. From the resultant 5m set piece, the Ulster pack launched a series of driven mauls at the Leinster line. Over exuberance from the Ulster pack resulted in them giving away a penalty and the Leinster team was allowed off the hook. The Ulster team was forced back to defend their line and, following a Leinster 5m lineout, a driven maul was finished off when the Leinster flanker, Will Connors, scrambled over the Ulster line to touch down for a try. Matthew Gilsenan converted the try to give the home team a 7-0 lead after twenty eight minutes. Seven minutes later a similar scenario resulted in the Ulster team giving away a penalty try when a player entered and collapsed a driven maul. Matthew Gilsenan converted the try to give his team a 14-0 lead and the Ulster team was temporarily reduced to fourteen men. With the last play of the first half the Leinster lead was extended to 17-0 when Matthew Gilsenan converted a penalty following another Ulster infringement.
The second half saw the Leinster lead increase to 24-0, in the first minute, when the Leinster captain, James Ryan, was awarded the touch down following a lineout driven over the Ulster line after yet another penalty infringement. Matthew Gilsenan added the extras. Ulster then started to play some of the rugby of which they were undoubtedly capable. A series of attacking plays ended with Andrew Shaw scrambling his way through a Leinster defensive maul to touch down for a try. Matthew McDowell converted the try to reduce the arrears to 24-7. Both teams were working hard in an attempt to play the game in a positive manner. At the start of the final quarter of the game the Leinster team turned the ball over and launched an attack down the blind side of the ruck. A clever combination of play involving Jimmy O’Brien, Nick Peters and Matthew Byrne ended with a Nick Peters try. Matthew Gilsenan converted the try to increase the Leinster lead to 31-7. Ulster now started to dominate possession but the Leinster team held the upper hand when it came to territory. The Ulster team simply could not get out of their half. That was until the final play of the game when replacement winger, Andrew McPhillips, was on the end of a series of plays and ran in for a try. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful which ensured it was the Leinster U20 team that finished the game as deserved 31-12 winners.
The Ulster U19 team met their Leinster U19 counterparts at Donnybrook on Saturday 19th September. The Ulster disappointment of narrowly losing their first game against Munster had been offset by an encouraging victory against Connacht in their last outing. There was a desire to finish off their season on a positive note with a good performance against Leinster.
However, despite a more than positive performance the team was devastated at the end of a game they lost by 23-13. It could have been so different an outcome! The Ulster team started the game well with strong runs and carries from players such as Zac Jordan, Josh Jordan and Andrew McGregor causing problems for the Leinster defence. One minute into the game the Ulster team had the opportunity to take an early lead but a penalty kick was missed. Five minutes into the game a strong run from Oisin Dowling ended with the Ulster team conceding a penalty. James McGowan made no mistake with his kick to put the Leinster team into a 3-0 lead. Four minutes later Ulster registered their first points when a clever off-load from Philip Matthews sent Josh Jordan in for a try. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Ulster team had a 5-3 lead. Leinster regained the lead some nine minutes later when Ulster conceded yet another penalty. James McGowan converted the kick to give his Leinster team a 6-5 lead. Three minutes later another Leinster penalty was converted by James McGowan to increase the Leinster lead to 9-5. Ulster then went on the attack and enterprising play forced Leinster into giving away a penalty. Paul Kerr stepped up to convert the penalty and the Ulster arrears had been reduced to 9-8. Close to the end of the first half the impressive Leinster centre, Jordan Larmour, outwitted the Ulster defence to run in for a try. James McGowan converted the try to give the Leinster team a 16-8 lead at the interval.
The first seven minutes of the second half saw the Ulster team asking questions of the Leinster defence only to be let down by an unerring ability to give penalties away at critical times. This allowed the Leinster team to clear their lines on a number of occasions. That was until the twelfth minute of the second period when a great Ulster attack was finished off by Jonny Haldane. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Ulster team was back in the game having reduced the deficit to 16-13. The next seven minutes saw the Ulster team get into good areas of the pitch only to lose the advantage by giving away penalties. Ulster then did get some territory only to see two lineouts lost and possession surrendered to the opposition. Leinster grew stronger and controlled the game for the next few minutes in terms of both territory and possession. However, the Ulster defence held strong and with five minutes remaining the Ulster team was asking big questions of the Leinster defence. Quick ball was gained and the Ulster team outflanked a despairing Leinster defence to cross the Leinster line only for the ball carrier to knock the ball forward in the act of touching it down. The Leinster team had escaped an almost certain defeat and with the final play of the game Jordan Larmour broke away to run in for a Leinster try. James McGowan converted the try and it was a relieved Leinster team that celebrated their hard earned 23-13 victory at the full time whistle.
Both the Ulster Clubs’ and Danske Bank Schools’ U18 team travelled to Cork to play their opposite numbers from Munster in the final Inter Pro games of the season.
At a resplendent Christian Brother’s School in Cork an adventurous Munster Schools XV defeated a disappointing Danske Bank Ulster Schools by 24-18 in the last of this season’s Schoolboy Inter Provincial games. Despite losing their last encounter, narrowly against Leinster Schools, hopes were high the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ team might come away with a positive performance against Munster Schools. However, in scoring three tries to nil Munster always looked the more dangerous side. An excellent 100% kicking game from Ulster centre, Callum Smith, kept his side in the game as he converted six penalties for various Munster indiscretions.
Ulster lost both wings to injury in the first half but it was really a creaking line out which was often Ulster’s downfall. The score fluctuated as Callum Smith kept Ulster in the game. Leading 9-7 at the start of the second half Ulster’s defence was breached and Munster regained the lead at 14-9. Two more Callum Smith penalties saw Ulster lead 15-14 with fifteen minutes to go. However the Munster out half scored an individual try, which he also converted, to put his team into a 21-15 lead. A yellow card to an Ulster forward for illegal play at the maul saw Munster increase their lead to 24-15. A sixth Callum Smith penalty brought Ulster to 24-18 with just minutes of the game remaining but Munster held out for a deserved win.
The Schools’ Interprovincial series this year was a close run contest with Connacht opting not to play in the Tournament. Only a few points separated all teams in all three games. Ulster will be disappointed with third place but in essence, could have won both games.
The Club U18 team experienced difficulties in getting much in the way of meaningful possession in the course of their match and lost the game by 24-7.
Tribute should be paid to the Management teams involved with all the Ulster Age Grade teams over the summer period. The coaching staff, led by the Ulster Academy Manager, Kieran Campbell, devoted considerable periods of time during June, July, August and September in preparing the teams for the warm up games as well as the Inter Pro games. They received considerable assistance from the Kit Managers, the S&C Department, the Physiotherapists, the Medical Officers and Managers attached to each team. The Ulster Rugby staff members in the Kingspan Stadium were of great assistance to each of the teams in organising the games, both home and away. The players in each of the squads put in a lot of work and effort and, despite results not going their way, will be aware of how much they have developed as players and, maybe more importantly, young men with a lot of potential for the future. A special word of thanks goes to the Parents and Guardians of all the players who have provided great support for the players throughout the summer and during the Inter Provincial games.
Quite a few Ulster Schools’ games were played on Saturday 19th September.
Sullivan Upper, despite losing players to the Age Grade Inter Pro games, still had enough in the pot to record a 38-5 victory against a gallant Banbridge Academy team. They had built up a 12-0 lead by the interval with tries from Matty Moran and Ruairi Meharg. Rory Kilpatrick added one conversion.
The Sullivan team controlled affairs for most the second half and scored four more tries. Matty Moran and Ruairi Meharg touched down for one more try apiece while Dan Braniff and Luke Coulter each scored one try. Rory Kilpatrick added three more conversions. The Banbridge Academy team, for whom Peter Heaney and Tom Lyttle impressed, got some compensation for their endeavours when their hooker, Timmy Beattie, crossed the Sullivan line for an unconverted try.
Down High School had two players away with the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ team when they hosted Grosvenor Grammar School. The Grosvenor GS team had built up a 7-0 lead by the break before going on to win the game by 21-5. The Grosvenor team started the game slowly and struggled to get to grips with the damp conditions. When they did get some territorial advantage a struggling lineout and basic handling errors meant they were unable to get the scoreboard moving. That was until Mark Johnston released Daniel Martin into some space and Daniel finished off with a try. Jonah McDowell converted the try to secure a 7-0 lead for the Grosvenor team at the break.
The Down High School team started the second half well. They were rewarded for their enterprising approach when Ronan Patterson ran in for an unconverted try ten minutes into the second period of play to reduce the arrears to 7-5. The Grosvenor team then started to get some quality possession which they used well. Good work from Josh McConkey saw the Grosvenor team get into the Down High School “Red Zone” Mark Johnston took advantage of this and ran in for a try, which was converted by Jonah McDowell, to give his team a 14-5 lead going into the final quarter of the game. Mark Johnston, Taylor Pollock, Josh McConkey and Daniel Martin all combined to put Ben Davis in for a try. Jonah McDowell was successful with his conversion to secure the 21-5 victory for the Grosvenor Grammar School team.
Friends’ School maintained their undefeated start to the season when they travelled to Cambridge House and came away with a 34-0 win. The Lisburn boys had built up a 17-0 lead by half time with tries from David Newell, Alex O’Brien and George Pringle. Ryan Hall added one conversion.
The second half was reflective of the first with the Friends’ School team scoring three more tries. Bart Campbell got the first one, Alex O’Brien then scored his second of the game and Curtis Dundas touched down for the third. David Stuart converted the final try to secure the 34-0 win for the Friends’ School, Lisburn team.
While this win should be attributed to the team work of the Friends’ School team there were fine individual performances from David Stuart, David Newell, Bart Campbell and Alex O’Brien who picked up the “Man of the Match” award.
With seven players on Ulster representative duty, and a handful more missing due to unavailability or injury, an experimental Ballymena Academy took the field against last year’s Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup winners, Royal Belfast Academical Institution, themselves missing several players involved in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ panel.
It was the home team who opened the scoring when winger, Ryan Gormley. perfectly timed an interception and showed pace to race in from fifty metres. Bruce Houston’s successful conversion made the score 7-0. Then RBAI began to dominate both territory and possession and some loose Ballymena kicking, combined with some excellent counter-attacking play, resulted in two quick scores for the visitors. John Dickson and Ethan Field, scored the tries, neither of which were converted, to give the RBAI team a 10-7 lead. Just before half-time, RBAI added a third unconverted try when the Belfast Inst captain, Conor Field, raced over in the corner, after some good work from the Inst pack, to give his team a 15-7 lead at the break.
Following an extended period of possession near the Ballymena line, RBAI increased the lead to 20–7 early in the second half with a try from Yasser Omar following several pick and drives. The Belfast school continued to dominate in the scrum but Ballymena Academy enjoyed the better of the lineout exchanges with Tim Savoury and Chris McLeister to the fore. Indeed, it was from a five-metre lineout that Ballymena scored their second try when James McClean touched down following a well-driven maul. Bruce Houston’s conversion brought Ballymena within one score but, at 20-14, RBAI increased their intensity and added a crucial converted try through Corrie Barrett. David Lyttle added the conversion to take the game beyond the reach of the home team at 27-14. A David Lyttle penalty, late in the game. stretched the RBAI lead further and an enjoyable game, played in front of a large crowd and refereed in the usual positive fashion by Mark Orr, ended at 30-14 to Royal Belfast Academical Institution.
Portadown College had a real test of their credentials when they travelled to play Bangor Grammar School. The Bangor team had suffered a heavy midweek defence against King’s Hospital School in Dublin but might have realistically been expected to win this encounter. However, it was not to be with the Portadown College team coming away with a deserved 14-10 victory.
Bangor Grammar School started the match the stronger of the teams but were unable to penetrate the well organised and disciplined Portadown College defence. Portadown remained calm throughout the early onslaught confident with their defensive structures. Both sides had opportunities to register early scores but both sides failed to execute the final pass. Bangor were first to score with a strong decisive break by their outhalf who cut back to evade the Portadown defence and release his support player to score an unconverted try under posts and give his team a 5-0 lead. This seemed to spur Portadown into action and, following a number of well organised phases No 8, Stewart Hodgen, crashed over from close in to level the at score at 5-5. Michael Orr then converted to give his team a7-5 lead, a lead they held until the break.
Both sides started well in the second half but it was Portaown who scored first with a well worked shortened lineout which saw Stewart Hodgen run in for his second try. Michael Orr converted to put the Portadown College team into a 14-5 lead. Portadown continued to press for further tries but to no avail. It was Bangor who finished the stronger and they got some reward for their endeavours when they scored an unconverted try to reduce the arrears to 14-10. Bangor continued to press for the winner but resolute Portadown College defence held firm to claim an impressive 14-10 victory against a side that had started the season strongly in some of their earlier games.
Foyle and Londonderry College claimed the early season bragging rights in the North West when they recorded an impressive 48-15 win against their near neighbours from Limavady Grammar School. The Foyle team had built up a 22-10 lead by halftime with two tries from Reece Hughes and one from Matthew Alford. Matthew Orr added two conversions as well as a penalty. In reply the Limavady GS team scored two unconverted tries in the first half.
In the second half the Foyle team scored tries from Thomas Cole, Cameron McCracken, Matthew Orr and a second from Matthew Alford. Matthew Orr added three more conversions. The Limavady Grammar School try scored a second half consolation try which ensured the Foyle and Londonderry College team ended the game as 48-15 winners.
Omagh Academy entertained Coleraine Grammar School in a game the Omagh Academy team deservedly won by 14-0. Both teams started brightly but it was the Omagh Academy team that had the first opportunity to score points when they were awarded a kickable penalty. However, that opportunity was missed! Coleraine GS then dominated proceedings for the next ten minutes but could find no way through a resolute Omagh Academy defence in which Jonny Anderson and Luke Hanson were outstanding. Towards the end of the first half two more Omagh kickable penalty opportunities were missed and the scoreline was reading 0-0 at the break.
Early second half Omagh pressure on the Coleraine GS defence was rewarded when James Longwell stormed in for a try. Oscar Nelson added the conversion to see the Omagh Academy team into a 7-0 lead. Good work from Matthew Clyde and Nathan Sides was causing problems for the Coleraine GS set piece. They were finding it difficult to get out of their half. The Omagh Academy team sealed their victory when Neil Logan scored from close range. Oscar Nelson added the conversion to secure this well-deserved 14-0 victory against Coleraine Grammar school.
Regent House had a relatively comfortable 24-0 win over Portora Royal School when the teams met in Newtownards. All the points came in the first half with Dave Jameson and Ryan Caldwell scoring one try each and Aaron May scoring two tries. Robbie Johnston and Ryan Caldwell were successful with one conversion each.
Belfast Royal Academy recorded a 31-5 against Lurgan College in a game the spirited Lurgan College team, at times, made life difficult for their opponents. The BRA team had built up a 17-5 lead at the break with first half tries from Jay McCrum, Tom Gilpin and Michael Wilson. Michael Wilson added the conversion to his own try. The Lurgan points came from a well organised attack which was finished off by James Patterson when he dotted down for an unconverted try.
The Lurgan College team battled away in the course of the second half but there was little they could do to prevent the Belfast Royal Academy team scoring another fourteen points. Despite the game getting scrappy at times during the second period the BRA team scored two tries through Tom Gilpin and Lewis Davidson. Michael Wilson was successful with both conversions to secure the 31-5 win for the Belfast Royal Academy team.
Campbell College displayed great skills in their comprehensive win against Ballyclare High School. The Campbell team attacked at every opportunity and ran out as comfortable 50-3 winners at the end of the game.
No reports were received on the games involving Dalriada School and Rainey Endowed School and Carrickfergus Grammar School and Belfast High School.
Royal School, Dungannon, Wellington College and Larne Grammar School played out a three team tournament on the WK Armstrong Pitch in Dungannon.

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