There were six Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 games played on Saturday 14th January as well as a number of non- Schools’ Cup matches.
The Larne Grammar School team travelled to play Belfast High School in a game the home team dominated from the start.
The Belfast High School team, superbly captained by their impressive No 8, Ryan McGonigle, took the game to the Larne Grammar School team from the first whistle. The home team pressurised the Larne team who stood up well defensively but were forced into giving away a number of penalties. The Belfast High School outhalf, Adam White, was accurate with his boot and converted three penalty kicks to give his team a 9-0 halftime lead. The Belfast High School team stepped the pace up in the second half winning quality ball in all aspects of play. A good exchange of passes, involving both forwards and backs, paved the way for Lewis Benson to run in the first try of the game early in the second half. Adam White added the conversion to put his team into a 16-0 lead. Adam then combined with Ryan Elliott in the Belfast High School midfield to open up the Larne Grammar School defence and send Jordan Garford in for a try. Adam White was unsuccessful with the conversion but his team had extended their lead to 21-0. From the restart the Belfast High School pack took the ball into Larne Grammar School territory. Ryan McGonigle rounded off a good passage of play to touch down for a try. Adam White converted the try to give his team a 28-0 lead. The Larne Grammar School team displayed great resilience in the face of adversity. They gained possession in their 22m area and attacked from deep. Good handling skills from their backs presented Houston Saunderson with the opportunity to put Sam McIlwaine into space. Sam showed good footwork to outpace the High School defence and touch down for a fine try. The conversion was missed but the Larne Grammar School team had points on the board. Adam White then rounded off a good phase of Belfast High School attack play when he crossed for a try. He converted his try to increase the Belfast High School to 35-5. The final try of the game came when the Belfast High School backrow replacement player, Johnnie Joffroy, scored under the posts. Adam White added the conversion to ensure it was the Belfast High School team that celebrated their well-deserved 42-5 victory at the final whistle.
Banbridge Academy 1st XV triumphed 10-3 over a dogged Omagh Academy in the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 2nd Rd on Saturday.
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The game was played at Omagh on a cold but perfect morning for rugby and both teams did their best to produce a fitting spectacle. Banbridge started the brighter and the first chance of points was a penalty attempt from outhalf, Marc Stevenson, which unfortunately drifted wide. However, sustained pressure from the Banbridge Academy pack meant that, after some good build up play, a move from the base of the scrum allowed right wing Rory Thompson to score in the corner. The conversion was missed but the Banbridge Academy team had a 5-0 lead. The half continued in the same vein with the Banbridge backs continually trying to out-strip the Omagh Academy defence. However, the defence was well-organised and held firm. The home team was rewarded with a 35th min penalty which Andy Allen converted with ease. This left the halftime score 5-3 in favour of Banbridge Academy. The second half started well for the visiting team. Twice Omagh made last gasp tackles to keep Banbridge from adding to their score but eventually the pressure told when the Banbridge Academy 2nd Row forward, Matthew Best, squeezed over the line for a vital score. This try was also unconverted but the visitors now had a 10-3 lead. As the half wore on Omagh threw everything at the Banbridge line but strong defence kept them at bay. Pressure relieving kicks from Marc Stevenson and scrum half, Aaron Kennedy, gave Banbridge some breathing space. Right to the whistle Omagh tried get back in the game but the Banbridge Academy defensive line held firm and the final whistle was greeted with jubilation from the Banbridge players and travelling support. It was a good all round performance from the Banbridge side but special mention must go to forwards Alex Thompson, David McKeown and captain, Colin McGregor who worked tirelessly all day in both attack and defence to ensure their 10-3 victory.
Dalriada made the long journey down to Enniskillen for their 2nd Round Northern Bank Ulster School’s Cup Game.
The game started with Dalriada forcing the Portora back into their 22m area. Almost immediately there started a sustained period of pressure by the Dalriada pack. With captain, Mattie Glenn, and prop, Peter McCully, leading many of the drives, the Dalriada pack kept the ball for next ten minutes and on five occasions went over the try line only to be denied by a combination of good defence by the Portora forwards and some unfortunate errors by the visitors. Eventually, the ball was moved wide rather than driven on and the Dalriada full back, John Laughlin, brushed off two tacklers to score a try in the corner. The try was not converted but the Dalriada team had a 5-0 lead. It was only in the last five minutes of the first half that Portora got any decent possession and through a series of well driven line outs Portora pressurised the Dalriada line. Portora Royal School No.8, Norman Gamble, impressed in this phase. They went close to scoring off two five metre scrums but the Dalriada defence held firm to see the score board read 5-0 in favour of the Dalriada team at half time. The break brought a change in fortune for the home side and after some sloppy play by Dalriada, Portora drove deep into the 22m area. With quick phase possession the ball was moved to the right and the speedy Portora winger, Ben Forbes, cut through the Dalriada defence to score under the posts. Scrum half, Patrick McCleery, added the two points to give Portora a 7-5 lead. For the rest of the second half the game was played around the middle of the field with neither side able to make any kind of impact. On a rare Portora Royal School visit to the Dalriada 22m area, Patrick McCleery converted a penalty opportunity to give his team a 10-5 lead. On several occasions the Dalriada scrum began to exert some dominance through the endeavours of their impressive tight head prop forward, Andy McWilliams. However, at this stage the Portora Royal School defence held firm and the Dalriada team was not able to take advantage of their superiority at the scrum. The final minutes saw a tense finish with both sides looking for a moment of inspiration to seal a victory. Portora had possession but kicked it away and gave Dalriada a last gasp opportunity. It was the impressive Dalriada replacement, Ryan Malcolmson, who made 50 metres off a kick return that got Dalriada back into the Portora 22m area. With the referee calling the last play, the ball was moved wide and with an excellent long pass from Ryan Malcolmson, the ball found Ulster Schools’ sprinter, Jack Magee, on the Dalriada School right wing. Jack rounded the cover defence to score an unconverted try in the corner and seal at least a draw for Dalriada and give his team the chance of victory. However, the conversion attempt was unsuccessful and both sides will have to do it again next Saturday, with the replay at Dalriada, having played out an entertaining 10-10 draw in this game.
The Lurgan College v Cambridge House game was moved from the College Walk venue to Pollock Park, home of Lurgan Rugby Football Club.
This ensured that both teams were looking forward to a firm pitch and an opportunity to play some exciting rugby in this Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 game. The game started well for the home team when they dispossessed Cambridge House at a ruck and pressurised the visitor’s line with some hard running from their forwards. Aaron Carson, Des Bingham, Craig Lyttle and Cameron Lyness were working hard for the Lurgan College team in the opening exchanges. The Cambridge House defence held out but only until ten minutes into the game when they infringed at a ruck. This presented the opportunity for the Lurgan outhalf, Ben McIlwaine to step up and convert a simple penalty opportunity to give his team a well-deserved 3-0 lead. This seemed to waken the Cambridge House team up and there followed a period of intense play from both sides. This was dominated by both defences with big tackles coming from both sides. For Cambridge House, Ryan Uprichard, Cory Miller and Warren Beattie were in the thick of things and Andrew Whann in supreme form at fullback. Just before half time an infringement at a ruck by Lurgan College allowed, Timothy Small, the Cambridge captain, to kick his team close to the Lurgan line. From the ensuing lineout, the Cambridge pack drove over for a try which was touched down by Thomas McIlroy. The touchline conversion was narrowly missed but the Cambridge House team had a 5-3 lead which they maintained until the interval. The second half started with same intensity that the first half had had but the Cambridge House team was the first to add to their points when Timmy Small hit a penalty from 40 yards out to give his team an 8-3 lead. The same player was a constant threat to Lurgan but could not get clear of the Lurgan back row who worked hard throughout the game. With ten minutes to play, Daniel McCord and Andrew Hood replaced two Cambridge forwards and their impact was immediate. Andrew Hood carried the ball effectively and this was a major advantage to the Cambridge House side. Some good forward play enabled Timmy Small to release Stuart Gilmore down the blind side of a ruck. Stuart looked to be going all the way before a tremendous last ditch tackle stopped him just short of the Lurgan College line. The Cambridge House support was on hand and, after several phases, Timmy Small created some space for Corey Miller to put Ryan Uprichard over for a try in the corner. Timmy Small added the conversation from wide on the right to seal the win and guarantee Cambridge’s progress into the 3rd round of the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup with their hard earned 15-3 victory.
Friends’ School hosted a resurgent Wellington College team, a team that has grown in confidence as a result of their impressive Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 1st Round win at Antrim Grammar School.
The Wellington College team got off to an excellent start when their scrum half, Andrew Hanna, charged down an attempted Friends’ School clearance kick and picked up the ball to score a try with just a minute of the game gone. Adam Webb converted the try to give his team an early 7-0 lead. The Friends’ School team responded positively to this setback with No 8, Dean Howes, powering his way through some slack Wellington College defence to touch down for a try. Ross Robinson added the conversion to level the score at 7-7. Minutes later Adam Webb put his Wellington team into the lead once again with a sweetly struck goal. The Friends’ team levelled the score at 10-10 with a successful Ross Robinson penalty after fifteen minutes of the first half. The Wellington College backrow, with David Marshall in excellent form, started to win the battle at the breakdown. This provided an opportunity for Owen Jarvie to show his pace and he did not disappoint, running in a try from the half way line. Adam Webb converted the try to see his team into a 17-10 lead. Sam Bridge touched down just before the interval for a try which Adam Webb converted to give the Wellington College team a 24-10 lead at halftime. The second half was evenly contested with the only score coming from Andrew Hanna who took advantage of a David Marshall charge down to scamper in for a try. The try was not converted but the Wellington College team had done enough to progress to the 3rd Round of the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup with their well-deserved 29-10 victory.
Rainey Endowed School hosted Carrickfergus Grammar School in front of a large crowd of enthusiastic supporters.
The Rainey Endowed team got off to the perfect start when the Carrickfergus Grammar School defence experienced difficulties in dealing with a Rainey box kick. The ball was dropped and then hacked through by the Rainey attack and eventually touched down by John Stewart for the first try of the game. Martin Connolly added the conversion to put the Rainey Endowed team into a 7-0 lead. The Rainey attack continued to pressurise the Carrickfergus Grammar School defence with Arran Murphy taking responsibility for putting his team into good attacking positions. The Rainey backs launched an attack which ended with a Chris Moffett try on the left wing. Martin Connolly was successful with his conversion kick to put his team into a 14-0 lead. The Rainey Endowed team was now playing with a great deal of confidence and attacked at every opportunity. Jamie Noble, Ryan Brown and Martin Connolly were asking questions of the Carrickfergus Grammar School defence and it was only a matter of time before the home team touched down for the third time. Jamie Noble was awarded the try which was not converted. Now leading by 19-0 the Rainey team had to work hard in defence as the Carrickfergus Grammar School team displayed great resilience and took play deep into Rainey Endowed territory. The visitors were rewarded with a penalty which Andrew Fulton converted to leave the scoreboard reading 19-3 at halftime. The start of the second half saw the Rainey Endowed team go on the attack. Rainey captain, Thomas Booth, and his backrow colleagues, Michael Dawson and Jonathan Lees, were causing all sorts of problems for the Carrickfergus Grammar School defenders. They were instrumental in producing quick ruck ball for their backs and it was the Rainey scrum half, Oisin Quinn, who took advantage of this. He scampered in for a try which Martin Connolly converted to increase the Rainey Endowed lead to 26-3. Martin proceeded to add two more penalties to increase that lead to 32-3. The Carrickfergus team worked really hard to prevent any more Rainey scores and lost the impressive Mattie Stewart to injury as he was defending his line. However, there was little they could do to prevent the last score of the game when Oisin Quinn took advantage of a great break from Arran Murphy to touch down for his second try of the game. Martin Connolly was successful with the conversion kick to see his team safely through this Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 game with a 39-3 win.
The draw for the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ 3rd Round took place at Belfast High School on Saturday 14th.
Mrs Lynn Gormley, Principal of Belfast High School and Mr Robert McClements, representing the Northern Bank, made the draws for the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy as well as for the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. Prior to the draw comment was made regarding the importance of the Schools’ Cup to the development of rugby in the Province. Fourteen of the victorious Ulster squad that defeated Leicester in the Heineken Cup game on Friday evening had played in the Ulster Schools’ Cup competition.
Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy Quarter-Final Draw.
Lurgan College v Omagh Academy
Larne Grammar School v Carrickfergus Grammar School
Portora RS /Dalriada v Antrim Grammar School
Friends’ School, Lisburn v Bye
These games are scheduled to be played on Saturday 28th January.
Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 3rd Round Draw
Belfast High School v Bangor Grammar School
Rainey Endowed School v Belfast Royal Academy
Grosvenor Grammar School v Sullivan Upper
Portadown College v Royal School, Dungannon
Down High School v Coleraine Academical Institution
Portora RS/Dalriada v Regent House
Foyle and Londonderry Coll v Banbridge Academy
Cambridge House v Wellington College
These games are scheduled to be played on Saturday 28th January.
In the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Shield Round 2 replay Omagh Academy and Friends’ School drew 5-5.
The game will be replayed, once again, at a neutral venue on Saturday 21st January. In the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ 2ndxv Competition Limavady Grammar School defeated Wallace High School by 10-6.
There was one midweek fixture played when Wallace High School hosted one of last season’s Leinster Schools’ Cup finalists, Cistercian College, Roscrea, in a floodlit game at Lisburn Rugby Club on Wednesday evening.
The game was played in front of a good crowd of supporters and the Cistercian team proved to be excellent opposition for the Wallace XV. Wallace High School started well but unforced errors led to them losing possession. The Cistercian College team took advantage of this and counter attacked from deep showing great pace as well as awareness. They scored a converted try to put themselves into a 7-0 lead. The physical size and power started to take a toll on the Wallace pack and the Roscrea backs ran in another try to take a 12-0 lead. The Wallace team responded positively and good work from Cal McIlwaine paved the way for a Peter Weir try. James McCallen added the conversion to reduce the arrears to 12-7. However, just before the interval the Cistercian team touched down for another converted try to take a 19-7 halftime lead. Wallace High School started the second half strongly and reduced the arrears to 19-10 when James McCallen was successful with a penalty opportunity. Roscrea responded with two tries, one of which was converted, to increase their lead to 31-10. The Wallace team displayed great character and scored the try of the game when a David Scott break from deep in his own half was carried on by Josh Ard who ran in for a try. James McCallen was successful with his conversion attempt to leave the final score reading 31-10 in favour of the Roscrea visitors. Both team were hosted at a post-match reception by Lisburn RFC and the thanks of both teams goes to the Lisburn Club for the use of facilities and the hosting of this hard fought and entertaining encounter.
A number of teams played non Schools’ Cup matches on Saturday 14th January.
Royal School, Armagh had a useful training run out on Friday afternoon against Presentation Brother’s, Cork.
The Cork team was in the Province to play against Royal Belfast Academical Institution on Saturday and used this session as an opportunity of running the long journey out of their systems. The RS Armagh team travelled to play Coleraine Academical Institution and came away from a scrappy game as 14-3 winners. Toby McAlpine, returning from the ski slopes, scored a first half try for the RS Armagh team as did Stuart Hooks. Mattie Clarke added two conversions to give his team a 14-0 lead. Mikey Poskitt reduced the arrears to 14-3 when he converted a penalty opportunity for the Coleraine AI team. The score remained at 14-3 until the interval. The Coleraine AI team displayed great commitment in the course of the second half and forced the RS Armagh team into making numerous errors. Despite a powerful performance from Thomas Johnston, the visitors could find no way through the home defence and there were no further scores in the course of the second half. This ensured a RS Armagh victory by 14-3.
Ballymena Academy hosted Regent House on Saturday 14th January ay the Old Calgorm Road venue.
The Ballymena Academy team scored through Nicholas Sterling with an unconverted try to take a 5-0 lead after fifteen minutes of play. Nathan Burns responded with a well struck penalty for Regent House after twenty five minutes to reduce the arrears to 5-3. A Matthew Rea try which was converted by Darren Geddis gave the home team a 12-3 lead which was increased to 15-3 when Darren Geddis kicked a penalty just before half time. Regent House started the 2nd half strongly and good work from their pack saw the Ballymena Academy team under pressure in the opening exchanges. Nathan Burns converted another penalty opportunity for Regent House to take the score to 15-6 five minutes into the second half. The Regent House defence had to work hard to thwart the Ballymena Academy attacks and they held firm until last play of the game when a lapse in concentration was exposed by Nicholas Sterling who ran in for his second try of the game. Darren Geddis added the conversion to leave the final score reading 22-6 in favour of the Ballymena Academy team.
Royal Belfast Academical Institution hosted the famous Presentation Brother’s College team from Cork.
In a hard fought, very close and physical encounter the Presentation College team won by 24-18. The visitors scored tries through Seamus Glynn, Philip O’Leary and Rory Scannell. Rory weighed in with a drop goal while Stephen Dinan added three conversions to account for the Presentation College points. Matthew Keane, Paddy Anderson and Ben Alexander all played well for the Royal Belfast Academical Institution team.
Grosvenor Grammar School travelled to Dublin to play Wesley College and came away with a well-deserved 21-7 win.
Nick Jones, Matthew Cahoon and Stuart Smyth all impressed with their performances for the Grosvenor Grammar School team.
Methodist College hosted a very talented Terenure College team at Pirrie Park.
The visitors had a big pack of forwards and an exciting set of backs. The Terenure team started well taking play deep into Methodist College territory and recorded the first points of the game when they kicked a penalty to give them a 3-0 lead after ten minutes. The Methody team recovered scored the first try of the game when Rory Winters took advantage of good work from his pack to run in for a try. Rudolph Benade converted the try to give his Methody team a 7-3 lead. The Methody team thought they had increased this lead few minutes later with another try only to be penalised for a “crossing” offence. Just before the halftime whistle the Terenure team scored a converted try to give them a 10-7 lead at the interval. Three minutes after the restart Rudolph Benade drew the scores level at 10-10 when he converted a penalty opportunity. Rudolph then put his team 13-10 ahead with another penalty seven minutes later. Terenure drew level at 13-13 with a penalty of their own and then regained the lead with a converted try midway through the second half to see the scoreboard read 20-13. The home team hit back immediately with a try from the hard working James Harrison. The try was not converted but the Methody team had reduced the arrears to 20-18. All out Methodist College attacks were thwarted by the Terenure College defence. Indeed, it was the visitors who had the final say in this entertaining game when they scored a converted try with the final play of the game to record a hard earned but well-deserved 27-18 victory.
Down High School travelled to Bangor on Saturday and, despite being starved of possession for long periods of time, they were resilient in defence and clinical when attacking opportunities presented themselves.
Ultimately, the Down High School team came away with another impressive victory. Down High had the best of the early attacks but Bangor had the first opportunity to open the scoring but failed with a straightforward penalty after ten minutes. Errors and lack of discipline by Down High presented Bangor with possession which they then retained for several phases but the visitors defence was outstanding with strong tackling and excellent organisation ensuring that the their line remained intact. With twenty five minutes gone Down High managed to get their hands on the ball and work their way up the field. When Bangor infringed at a ruck Justin Rea landed the resulting penalty to give Down High a 3 -0 lead. This triggered an excellent period from the visitors and after the hardworking Ben Hale won quick ball at a ruck, the Down High School backs moved the ball smartly to the left to create an overlap. Unfortunately for Luca Rea the referee was unable to confirm the touchdown due to a pile up of bodies in the in-goal area. Eventually, the Bangor Grammar team cleared their lines and were rewarded with a penalty which they successfully converted to leave the scoreline tied at 3-3 at halftime. The second half saw Down High play some of their best rugby of the season. They began to use the ball wisely and Justin Rea began to control the match with some fine kicking to the corners. Luc Bonnargent following up on one of these kicks tackled the Bangor Grammar School fullback and reclaimed the ball. This quick ball enabled the Down High backs to find the space to move quickly to the left where Ryan Smyth showed strength to finish with an unconverted try in the corner to take the score to 8-3. The Down High School forwards were beginning to gain the upper hand by competing hard in the rucks and mauls. Despite struggling in a few scrums, the Down High School pack was more than a match for the larger Bangor pack with Rob Long putting in his best performance of the season so far. He was well supported by Jamie Ross, Chris Martin and the rest of the pack. The try of the match came on fifty five minutes when Justin Rea made a break. As he was being tackled he flicked the ball to Kelvin Hamilton who made ground before offloading to Luca Rea who committed the last defender before popping the ball to Luc Bonnargent who finished the move with an unconverted try in the corner to extent the Down High lead to 13-3. The Down High School team was now in control and a Justin Rea penalty extended the lead to 16-3. With only seconds remaining on the clock the visitors were awarded another penalty inside the Bangor 22m area which they opted to kick for touch. From the resulting lineout the forwards worked a well-rehearsed catch and drive move which saw Sean Walsh score an unconverted try in the corner to leave the final score reading 21-3 in favour of the Down High School team.