Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ squad 29 v Connacht U18’s 16 Report Saturday 22nd August 2015 by Barney McGonigle

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Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ squad v Connacht U18’s Saturday 22nd August 2015
On Saturday the 22nd August the Danske Bankl Ulster Schools’ U18 Schools squad travelled to play Connacht U18’s in a pre-season friendly fixture at Ashbourne Rugby Club. This was the first competitive action of the season for the Ulster squad, a squad that had been working hard at Newforge throughout the summer period. Kieran Campbell, the Ulster Rugby Academy Manager, assisted by his coaching staff of Alex Codling, Dan Soper and David Docherty, used the game as an opportunity for the players involved to show their worth in the course of the game which was played over a period of three twentyfive minute sessions. Both the Ulster and Connacht coaching teams using the occasion to give some game time to as many players as possible and to try out different combinations and positions.
Ulster started the game at a high pace and went through several phases after receiving the kick off to take play to within 5m of the Connacht line. Unfortunately a knock at a critical time saw a scrum awarded to Connacht. However, the Ulster pack disrupted the scrum enabling them to regain possession. Good use of the ball allowed the Ulster centre, Callum Smith (Coleraine GS), to score the opening try from short range and give his team a 5-0 lead.
Connacht reduced the deficit to 5-3 with a penalty on seven minutes. On thirteen minutes a break by scrum half, Jonny Stewart (Wallace HS), set up a ruck which created space for the same player to score Ulster’s second try. This try was converted by James Hume (RBAI) to give the Ulster Schools’ team a 12-3 lead.
Connacht responded with a penalty on fifteen minutes and then took the lead on twenty minutes. As Ulster attempted to move the ball wide it was intercepted by a Connacht centre who broke clear before passing inside to his left winger who was running a great support line. The Connacht player touched down for a converted try to put the Western Province into a 13-12 lead.
At the end of the first period an unconverted try by Josh Agnew (RS Armagh), after a Callum Smith break, restored the lead to 17-13 in favour of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ squad.
In the second period of play Ulster scored early on through Number 8, Zac Ward (Down HS). Zac was involved twice in the move before touching down for the try which was converted by Callum Smith to put the Ulster team into a 24-13 lead. Connacht responded with a further three points by way of a penalty to reduce the deficit to 24-16. The Connacht team had a number of opportunities to further reduce the arrears but their kicker was off target with a number of penalty attempts either side of the second interval.
Midway through the third period of play James Hume completed the scoring with an unconverted try which saw the Danske Bank Ulster Ulster Schools’ squad finish the game as deserved 29-16 winners.
The game proved to be a more than useful work out for the players and management alike. The Ulster team will now travel to take part in a Schools’ Tournament in Yorkshire over the Bank Holiday weekend.
This tournament will be seen as a vital outing in preparation for the forthcoming Schools’ Interprovincial game which will take place in September. The Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ team will play Leinster at Deramore Park on September 12th and then travel to Christian Brother’s College in Cork to play Munster on Saturday 19th September. Unfortunately Connacht find themselves unable to field a team in the Schools’ Inter Provincial series this season. Support for the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ games would be welcome.

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