Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Round Up Saturday 15th September 2012. By Barney McGonigle

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The Royal School, Armagh team was not at full strength when they travelled to play Banbridge Academy in a midweek fixture. Darryl Morton was on Ulster Schools’ duty in Galway while Michael Hoey was involved in an Ulster U19 training session. However, the team was able to use the services of outhalf, Alistair Wright, for this game. Jonathan Morton, Daniel Ewart and John Dunne all scored one try each while Matthew Hooks touched down twice. Alistair Wright was successful with four of the five conversion attempts to see the RS Armagh team safely through with a 33-0 win. Michael Rolston was “Man of the Match” for his RS Armagh team while Calum Boardman impressed for the Banbridge Academy team.
Portora RS had recorded an impressive 34-10 win in their first game of the season against Foyle and Londonderry College. They entertained a Regent House team who were still in a state of shock having shipped some forty eight points in their previous game at home to Rainey Endowed. The Regent team travelled to Portora looking for an improved performance. They did play well but it was the Portora RS team that won the game by 19-17. CLICK HERE for pictures Robert Connor, Alistair Crawford and Nathan Richmond scored tries for the Portora team while team captain, James Stevenson was successful with two conversions.
Sullivan Upper travelled to Banbridge Academy and came away with a well-deserved 36-8 victory. The home team took an early 3-0 lead through a Paddy Hayes penalty but Sullivan responded with three first half tries, one of which was converted, to give them a 17-3 half time lead. Sullivan scored a fourth try, which was converted, early in the second half to increase their lead to 24-3. The home side then scored a try through their hard working No 8, Matthew Best to reduce the arrears to 24-8. In the closing stages of the game the Sullivan Upper team ran in two more tries. One was converted to leave the visitor’s worthy 36-8 winners. For the Banbridge Academy team Calum Boardman and Ethan Harbinson impressed with their performances.
Omagh Academy travelled to Coleraine for a fixture against the Coleraine AI team. The Omagh team took the lead when scrum half, Lloyd Kane, broke down the blind side of a ruck to put Adam Longwell in for a try. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Omagh Academy team had a 5-0 lead. The Coleraine AI team responded positively and scored two unconverted tries to give them a 10-5 half time lead. The Omagh Academy team started the second half strongly and Lloyd Kane intercepted a Coleraine AI pass to run in for a try under the posts. James Catterson was successful with his conversion attempt to put his team into a 12-10 lead. Lloyd Kane and Adam Longwell combined once again to send Adam in for his second try of the game. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Omagh team had a 17-10 lead. Despite the efforts of the Coleraine AI team in the last ten minutes of the game the Omagh Academy defence held firm and ensured an Omagh win by 17-10.
On Wednesday 12th Down High School welcomed Methodist College to Downpatrick. Both sides were missing a number of key players due to injury and interprovincial commitments. In the first half Down High attacked with flair and defended with fantastic resilience. A solid set piece up front provided a super platform for the backs to work their art. A number of early line breaks from Ricky Gill created definite scoring chances for the home side in opening 20 minutes but frequently the last pass didn’t go to hand. Around the 25 minute mark a creative piece of backs play brought about another line break which saw Luca Rea in support and taking the final pass for the first score of the game. Rea added the extras to his own try and give his team a 7-0 lead. As would be expected, Methody fought back hard after Rea’s try but Down High soaked up all the visitors threw at them and went into half time with a very pleasing 7-0 lead. Early in the second half Methody levelled the scores when a poor Down High clearance kick landed in the arms of the visitor’s full back who initiated a counter attack which ultimately led to a converted try. With fifteen minutes to go Down High regained their lead when full back, Ryan Smyth, received a kick deep in the hosts half, dummied a return kick and then fed the ball to Daniel Stanfield who rounded the chasing defence and ran 60 yards for a great individual effort. In the final 10 minutes the Down High side fatigued severely and leaked two converted tries, the latter of which saw their flanker Darren Cheung injured and the game stopped 5 minutes short. This left Methody 21-12 winners and a Down High side disappointed because they had come so close to an upset.
Down High School travelled to play Grosvenor GS on Saturday and it was the Down High School team that took a 5-0 lead early in the game. The match was evenly balanced for the remainder of the first half and Grosvenor equalised when Daniel Mayhew touched down for his first try of the season. The Down High School team dominated proceedings in the second half and scored two tries, one of which was converted, to ensure a good 17-5 win. For the Grosvenor team Sam Purdon impressed with his hard work throughout the game as did Steven Marshall and Peter Davison.
Royal School, Dungannon, Wellington College and Larne Grammar School played in a mini tournament with each team playing two thirty minute games. The RS Dungannon team played Wellington College in the first game and dominated proceedings. However, they found the Wellington defence to be hard to break down and had just one try to show for their endeavours. Calum Bain scored the try following good work from his pack to see the RS Dungannon team win the game by 5-0. The RS Dungannon team then recorded a 12-0 win against Larne Grammar School. Jonny Wright and Scott McLean scored the tries with Jack Milligan adding one conversion. The Larne team played Wellington College and recorded an impressive 21-0 win. There were good performances from the entire team in this game but team captain, Corey Burleigh, and Connor Connelly stood out with their performances.
Friends’ School, Lisburn hosted Cambridge House and dominated proceedings from the start of the game. Tries from Ross Robinson and Dean Howes with a conversion and penalty from Ross put the Lisburn team into a 15-0 lead. The Cambridge House team reduced the arrears to 15-3 with a penalty just before half time. The home team continued to dominate proceedings in the second half and scored two more tries through Jason Hassard and Peter Ferguson. Ross Robinson converted one of the tries. The Cambridge House team displayed great commitment but found the Friends’ defence to be well-organised and unwilling to concede any more points. This ensured the Friends’ School team recorded a 27-3 win at the no-side whistle.
Royal School, Armagh maintained their unbeaten start to the season when the hosted St Gerard’s College from Bray in their annual fixture. The RS Armagh team dominated the proceedings in the first half and took a 10-0 half time lead. Gerard Trainor scored the try which was converted by Matthew Hooks. Matthew converted a penalty opportunity to account for the RS Armagh first half points. St Gerard’s stepped up their performance in the second and scored an unconverted try to leave the final score reading 10-5 in favour of the RS Armagh team. Matthew Hooks, John Dunne and James Johnston impressed with their performances but there was a stand- out performance from Year 12 player, Michael Thompson, who was making his debut on the RS Armagh 1stXV.
In a high scoring game Belfast High School recorded a 40-17 victory against near neighbours and close rivals, Carrickfergus Grammar School. The Carrickfergus team scored two first half tries through Christian Robinson. David Carse converted one try to see his team into a 12-10 half time lead. The second half saw the Belfast High School team raise the standard of their game. They score two early second half tries and then the game was interrupted for a short time. Rhys McConnell scored for the Carrickfergus GS team but the Belfast High School team had the last say with more tries in the final quarter to secure their 40-17 win.
Bangor travelled to play Portadown College for their 3rd game in a week on Saturday 15th September. Following a narrow loss to RS Armagh the Bangor GS played a mid- week North Down derby when Sullivan travelled to Bangor. With a very strong wind blowing straight down the pitch, conditions were not ideal for a game of running rugby. Unlike the previous week, the Bangor side can consider themselves to be fortunate in winning the game by 14-12. Bangor scored two tries through Matthew Hamilton who beat three Sullivan defenders to score under the posts, giving Michael Weir an easy conversion. Then Bangor GS winger Cameron Strutt showed great skill in finishing of a fine back line move.
The side showed several changes against Portadown as the coach looked at different permutations in the early stage of the season. Bangor opened the scoring early on when Captain for the day James Leary crossed under the posts to give Michael Weir an easy conversion. Shortly after this the home side reduced the deficit with a well taken penalty. A feature of the Bangor side this season has been their willingness to play running rugby and this was clearly evident throughout the game. Bangor scored further tries from Matthew Hamilton, his third of the season, Cameron Strutt, his second of the season, Matthew Stockton and Andrew Mellon. With Portadown adding a further penalty and an unconverted try, the game finished with Bangor winning by 27 – 13.
Rainey ES entertained Dalriada in the annual ‘Topping Cup’ game. Rainey encouraged by their convincing 48-0 win over Regent House last week were keen to retain the ‘Topping Cup’. Straight from the kick off Rainey went on the attack. Oisin Quinn and Gavin Wray made good breaks but were denied by sound Dalriada defence. Ten minutes into the game a neat kick by Arran Murphy created the first try. The ball bounced Rainey’s way and centre John Stewart followed up to take the ball and dive over the line to give Rainey a 5-0 lead. From the kick off an attack down the blindside led to Rainey’s second try. Kieran lynch chased an Oisin Quinn kick after good work by winger Odhran Mc Cloy. He then showed excellent footwork to score. Murphy converted to give Rainey a deserved 12-0 lead. For the rest of the half Rainey hammered the Dalriada defence but it stood firm. Samuel Hawe and Mark Kavanagh both worked themselves into good positions and came very close to scoring but the Dalriada defence kept them out. Half time: Rainey 12 Dalriada 0. Dalriada with the slight breeze at their backs came out in the second half on the offensive. For 15 minutes they were on top and stretched the Rainey defence. In the Rainey pack Jonathan Kyle and Eunan Shaw made endless tackles to keep them out. However, the pressure eventually told and Dalriada scored a converted try to make it 12-7. This try seemed to be a wake-up call for Rainey. They took the game by the ‘scruff of the neck’ and went back on the attack. Strong runs by Captain, Michael Dawson, and Jonathan Lees set many of their attacks up. One of these runs led to a penalty which was converted by Murphy to make the score 15-7. Dalriada now under pressure resorted to a kicking game, which full back Matthew Stewart deal with. He was sound at the back and counter attacked when given the opportunity. Up front, Michael Nevin and Timmy Maxwell were behind a lot of good work from the Rainey pack as the threatened the Dalriada line frequently. The game drew to a close with Rainey being denied a third try when a good break by Shaw and support by Quinn was denied by a forward pass. The final whistle went with Rainey winning 15-7 and retaining the ‘Topping Cup’. Dalriada made Rainey word very hard for this win. Although Rainey displayed a different style of rugby from last week, they played with real determination and excellent team spirit.
R.B.A.I. entertained Ballymena Academy on a bright and dry Saturday morning at Osborne Park. With both team were missing representative players, it was an opportunity for both sets of coaches to have a look at their extended squads.
The home team were first to register points after ten minutes. A turnover ball in the middle of the field was moved wide to the left and the R.B.A.I. full back cleverly kicked ahead and won the race to touch down in the corner. An excellent touchline conversion made the score 7 – 0.
Ballymena replied with a well-deserved score five minutes later. Scrum half, Oliver Simpson, broke clear from the base of the ruck and, though stopped just short of the line, recycled the ball to allow Duncan Maguire to power over. Andrew Magrath levelled the scores with his successful conversion and was successful again with a penalty just before half time to leave the Belfast school trailing 10 – 7 at the interval.
Ballymena Academy started the second half strongly and further increased their lead when a Brian Mulholland kick was eventually gathered by Josh McIlroy who touched down between the posts. Andrew Magrath again added the extras and, moments later, when Mulholland was stopped just inches short of the line, it seemed inevitable that the away team would add a further score.
However, the Belfast school rallied and, following an excellent break from their own half, the Inst centre was on hand to score in the corner. Another successful conversion attempt reduced the deficit to three points and, as the half progressed further, Ballymena continued to hold their lead into time-added-on. From an R.B.A.I. scrum on the Ballymena ten metre line, the home team retained possession through countless phases of ball retention and, with the last play of the game, finally created an overlap for the winning try in the right-hand corner. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the try had been enough to see R.B.A.I. win this exciting game by 19 – 17.
The sympathies of everyone associated with Ulster Schools’ Rugby go to the Spence family on the tragic loss of Nevin, his father and brother.

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