Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Round Up Saturday 11th December 2010

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With the onset of a thaw following the extreme weather conditions experienced throughout the province, a number of schools did manage to host games on Saturday 11th December. The thaw did not come soon enough for the majority of games to take place but six venues were able to cope. Ground staff had worked hard in these venues to ensure the pitches were in good condition.
Nowhere more so than at Larne Grammar School where groundsman, Bobby Strain, had prepared an excellent playing surface in advance of the arrival of a very confident Cambridge House team. Despite having lost out on game time in recent weeks, both teams started the game playing very open rugby and setting the scene for an entertaining game with the Larne team displaying the good form that enabled them to defeat their local rivals from Carrickfergus Grammar School in their last game. The home team edged the opening exchanges with Billy Brown bringing his experience to bear, especially at the breakdown. Assisted by Ryan McAllister, the two players combined to pave the way for an unconverted Bryan Hamill try to give the Larne Grammar School team a 5-0 lead. Larne Grammar School pressure forced the Cambridge House team to give away penalties which. Philip Andrews was delighted to convert two of these opportunities to put his team into a deserved 11-0 half time lead. The Cambridge House team made a determined effort throughout the second half to get themselves back into the game. They launched a series of attacks through Matthew Harkness, Andrew Cundell, Timmy Small and Mark Payne. However, the Larne Grammar School defence was well organised with their captain, Ross Williamson and his second row partner, Mark Eastop, to the fore in thwarting the Cambridge House efforts. They were ably assisted by their back row colleagues, Ethan Kerr and Callum Paton, who turned over Cambridge House ball on a number of occasions thereby ensuring that it was the Larne Grammar School team who recorded their second successive home victory with an 11-0 win against the Cambridge House visitors.

Wellington College hosted Lurgan College in the First Round of the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign. The Wellington pitch was in excellent condition and both teams took advantage of the playing surface to put on a great display of committed Schools’ Cup rugby. The Lurgan team was well organised in defence and ensured that their line remained intact despite the clear intentions of the Wellington team who were intent on attacking at every opportunity. In fact, it was the Lurgan team that took the lead when their captain, Josh McKay, kicked a penalty to give his team a 3-0 lead. Josh extended this lead to 6-0 when he converted a second penalty opportunity in the lead up to half time. Steven Marshall reduced the arrears to 6-3 when he converted a Wellington College penalty to leave the half time score at 6-3 in favour of the Lurgan College team. The Wellington team scored a try early in the second half through their second row, Kyle Walker. Adam Webb added the extras to put the home team into a 10-6 lead for the first time in the game. This lead was extended to 17-6 midway through the second period when the Wellington College No 8, Gareth McCaughey, capped a fine personal performance, with a well taken try which was converted by Adam Webb. The Lurgan team did not sit back but took the game to Wellington. Inspired by Josh McKay, Greg Lyness and Dean Wilson, the Lurgan team put the Wellington defence under pressure forcing the home defence to give away penalties. Josh McKay converted two penalties to reduce the arrears to 17-12 going into the final ten minutes of the game. The home team rode out the Lurgan storm and scored ten points in the final minutes of the game. Adam Webb kicked a penalty and converted a try from Kyle Agnew to see the Wellington College team through this intriguing Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup encounter by 27-12. The Wellington College team now go into the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Second Round draw while the Lurgan college team will hope for a good run in the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy competition.
CLICK HERE for a slideshow of pictures from Wellington College v Lurgan College
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The only undefeated team in Ulster Schools’ Rugby, Ballyclare High School, changed their fixture from the Rashee Road venue to the Shore Road in Belfast where they met Belfast High School. With neither side having been able to play or train properly in recent weeks, the first half of the game was riddled with errors from both teams. Despite the best intentions of both teams to play an attacking brand of rugby, the only score of the first half came through a Jonny Holmes penalty, to give his Ballyclare High School team a 3-0 half time lead. The Ballyclare High School found themselves continually wasting scoring opportunities in the early stages of the second half. However, in the final quarter of the game they eventually managed to put further points on the score board. No 8, Jonny Darling, right winger Andrew Butler, centre Jonny Douglas, 2nd Row Kirk Johnston, flanker Paddy Reid and left winger Chris McIntyre all chipped in with tries. Jonny Holmes added three conversions to see the final score read 39-0 in favour of the Ballyclare High School team.
Belfast Royal Academy hosted Banbridge Academy at the Roughfort playing fields on a pitch that once again, was in superb condition. In an evenly contested first half both teams were guilty of basic errors although they did attempt to play expansive rugby. There were no scores in the first half but the home team did start the second half strongly when they capitalised on Banbridge Academy mistakes which enabled Andrew McClements to go in for a try. Robbie Jamison added the conversion to put Belfast Royal Academy into a 7-0 lead. Further Belfast Royal Academy pressure paved the way for an unconverted try from the elusive Eoin Devlin to give his team a 12-0 lead. Ryan Clarke sealed the game for the home team with an excellent individual try. Robbie Jamison converted this try to give the Belfast Royal Academy team a deserved 19-0 win. The Banbridge Academy team was concerned regarding the number of basic mistakes they made in the course of the game but pleased with the performances of players such as Michael Runciman, Chrissy Craig and Hugo Harbinson in their back line.
Wallace High School decided to take part in a proposed triangular tournament hosted by Bangor Grammar School, rather than their scheduled fixture against Friends’ School. As it turned out the third team in the tournament had to withdraw so the trip to Bangor turned into a full Bangor Grammar School v Wallace High School fixture. Despite a three week enforced lay off, both teams played an exciting brand of rugby on a very dry pitch. Bangor Grammar School pressurised the Wallace defence early in the game and eventually took a 3-0 lead when Stuart McCloskey converted a penalty kick. The Wallace team responded positively to this setback and scored an unconverted try, through Nathan McClatchey, to put them into a 5-3 lead. Stewart Evans took advantage of a good Wallace High School lineout drive maul which the Bangor Grammar School pack failed to deal with. Stewart touched down for an unconverted try to give his team a 10-3 half time lead. The Wallace team continued to dominate the opening exchanges of the second half and scored another unconverted try through Dean Irvine to give them a 15-3 lead. David Scott then got in on the try scoring act for the visitors. He converted his own try to put the Lisburn team into a commanding 22-3 lead. Despite these setbacks, the Bangor team mounted a revival and following a series of picks and drives, their hard working second row forward, Luke Dornan, scored an unconverted try to reduce the arrears to 22-8. This gave the Bangor team great confidence and they were rewarded for their endeavours with another unconverted try, this time from Stuart McCloskey, to take the score to 22-13 in favour of The Wallace High School team. The Bangor team continued to dominate but it was the Wallace team that had the final say when Cal McIlwaine touched down for an unconverted try with the last play of the game to ensure a 27-13 victory for the Wallace High School team.
Both Royal Belfast Academical Institution and St Michael’s College from Dublin were a little ring rusty in the opening encounters when the two sides met at the Osbourne Park playing fields. The enforced lay off due to the adverse weather conditions had clearly impacted on both sets of players. Despite this, the Belfast Inst team was stronger in the lineout and at the breakdown while there appeared to be parity at scrum time. The Belfast Inst team was more physical in the early stages of the game and took a 5-0 lead when Nathan Browne took full advantage of a good interchange of play involving both forwards and backs to touch down for an unconverted try. Luke Mc Grath reduced the arrears to 5-3 when he converted a penalty for the St Michael’s College team. Gareth Lawlor gave the Belfast Inst team an 8-3 lead with a penalty and went on to bewilder the St Michael’s defence with a great dummy which allowed him the space to score under their posts. Gareth converted his own try to see the Belfast Inst team into the half time break with a 15-3 lead. The home team turned down penalty opportunities early in the second half to extend their lead, preferring to work off lineout options in the opposition 22m area. These decisions almost paid off when they had opened up the St Michael’s College defence only to knock the ball on with the line at their mercy. This seemed to galvanise the St Michael’s College team who played a very effective off- loading game which enabled them to bring their very effective back division into play. Fifteen minutes into the second half Mark Corballis score a try which Luke McGrath converted to take the score to 15-10 but still in favour of the Belfast Inst team. The same two players combined once again to see the St Michael’s team into a 17-15 lead with only minutes remaining. However, the Belfast Inst team displayed great courage and took the ball deep into St Michael’s College territory. The home team was awarded a penalty which they gave to their second half replacement player, Matthew McGuigan. Matthew stepped up, slotted the ball between the uprights and over the bar, to kick the penalty and see his Royal Belfast Academical Institution team through safely as 18-17 winners of this entertaining encounter.
All schools are reminded that the Ulster Schools’ Irish Rugby Football Union Charitable Trust Week should have been in full swing in the past week. Some schools have already contributed to this most worthy of causes and all schools are reminded that contributions should be sent to:-
Mr John Wilson, Principal, Larne Grammar School, 4-6 Lower Cairncastle Road, Larne, Co Antrim, BT40 1PQ as soon as possible and preferably before the end of the current term.

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