Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Round Up Saturday 22nd January 2011. Includes pictures from Bangor Grammar School v Friends’ School

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Once again the adverse weather conditions played havoc with the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup games. Only one of the eight Round 3 Cup games was played and none of the Trophy ¼ Final games was played.
The one game that escaped the adverse weather was the clash involving Bangor Grammar School at home to Friends’ School, Lisburn. The pitch at Ballymacormick Road was in good order with a large attendance of supporters from both teams at the game. Included among the supporters was ex Ulster and current Leinster scrum half, Isaac Boss. Isaac has developed a keen interest in Ulster Schools’ Rugby through his association with Friends’ School in the past two seasons. He was part of the successful Leinster team that won their Heineken European Cup game against Racing Metro in Paris on Friday evening. Despite travelling back to Dublin in the early hours of Saturday morning, nothing was going to stop Isaac travelling to the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ game in Bangor with the Friends’ School team.

Click Here For pictures of Bangor GS v Friends School, pictures can be viewed individually or as a slideshow

Click Here For pictures of Bangor GS v Friends School, courtesy of Ken Best

He can be assured of great support from the Friends’ School players when he turns out for the Irish Wolfhounds at Ravenhill on Friday 4th February. From the kick off the home team declared their positive intentions and took play directly into the Friends’ School 22m area. From a line out taken by Luke Dornan, the Bangor Grammar School back line moved the ball quickly through their hands. They created an overlap in the wide channels which was exploited eventually by the Bangor scrum half, Craig Harper. He outpaced the Friends’ School defence to touch down under the posts for the first try of the game. Stuart McCloskey stepped up to convert the try and give his team a 7-0 lead after only two minutes play. The Friends’ team responded positively to this early setback and put the home team under pressure. The Lisburn team spent the next ten minutes encamped in the Bangor 10m area. Positive play and control of possession forced the home team into giving away a series of penalties but the Friends’ team was unable to turn these opportunities into points. A change of tactics saw the Friends’ team work with the ball in hand with Rory McIvor, Paddy Pringle and Michael Cochrane asking questions of the home defence. These questions were answered in a very positive manner with Daniel Kennedy and Jake Onyekwelu putting in a number of vital tackles to ensure the home line remained intact. It was now the turn of the Bangor team to control the game. Their scrum and line out started to function properly enabling the home team to gain a territorial advantage in the lead up to the half time whistle. Despite losing their No 8, Jonny Gordon, to injury, the Bangor team was in the ascendancy. They had an opportunity to increase their lead when the Friends’ midfield was penalised for straying off side. Unusually, Stuart McCloskey missed the kick to leave the half time score at 7-0 in favour of the Bangor Grammar School team. The Bangor team started the second period of play very strongly. Stuart McCloskey, Michael Aspley and Daniel Kennedy all combined to take play deep into Friends’ School territory. Following an infringement at an ensuing ruck, the Bangor team was awarded a penalty. Stuart McCloskey was successful with his kick to put his team into a 10-0 lead. The Bangor team now started to play with increased confidence. Gareth Irvine and Craig Harper combined to create space on the blind side of a ruck to create space for the Bangor Grammar School right winger, Matthew Hamilton. Matthew displayed good strength and skills to score a try, despite a last ditch tackle from the Friends’ full back, Paul Anderson. Stuart McCloskey missed the conversion but his team had a 15-0 lead. Having established this comfortable cushion, the Bangor side took total control of the game. They denied the Friends’ pack any sort of worthwhile possession and their backs ran the ball in a determined and ambitious manner. This positive approach saw Stuart McCloskey exploit a gap in the Friends defence to break through and add a further try. The try was not converted but the Bangor team now had a 20-0 lead. Shortly after this, Bangor suffered a further setback when their inspirational captain, Darren Kelly, had to leave the pitch with a shoulder injury, to be replaced by James Leary. The positive Bangor approach continued and an excellent back line move saw left winger, Phil Harper, outpace the Friends’ defence to cross the line under the posts for a further try. Stuart McCloskey was successful with his conversion to extend the Bangor Grammar School lead to 27-0. The Friends’ team recovered from this 20 minute nightmare when very little went right, to establish some positive aspects to their play. The Friends’ pack, with Brice Bailie, Dean Howes and Joe Murphy to the fore, recycled ball effectively in the Bangor Grammar School 10m area. Good handling from young scrum half, Jonny Ravey and team captain Rory McIvor, opened up the Bangor defence enabling Paul Anderson to score in the corner. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Friends’ team had a score for their efforts. Shortly after this the Friends’ team reduced further the deficit to 27-12 when Desi Eastwood took advantage of good lines of running from Michael Cochrane to touch down under the Bangor Grammar School posts. Paul Anderson added the extras for his team. Not to be outdone, Bangor Grammar School roared back into the attack and following a very strong scrum, the Bangor scrum half, Craig Harper, capitalized on some poor technique by the Friends’ pack to gather a loose ball and sprint 50m to score his second try of the game. This second try was just reward for an excellent performance from the scrum half and capped an excellent second half display by the home team. The final whistle saw the Bangor Grammar School team celebrate their well-deserved victory in this physical Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Round 3 encounter while the Friends’ team reflected on a “what might have been” scenario. The Friends’ team will now enter the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Bowl competition while the Bangor Grammar School team will be in the draw for the 4th Round of the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup.
The 3rd Round games postponed in the Northern Bank Ulster Schools Cup on Saturday 22nd have been re-arranged as follows:-
Wednesday 26th January 2011 Rainey Endowed School v Sullivan Upper 2-30pm
Saturday 29th January 2011
Larne Grammar School v Belfast High School 10-30am
Royal School, Dungannon v Coleraine Academical Institution 11-00am
Grosvenor Grammar School v Banbridge Academy 10-30am
Limavady Grammar School v Regent House 11-30am
Portadown College v Dalriada School 11-00am
Down High School v Foyle and Londonderry College 11-30am.
Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy ¼ Final Wednesday 26th January 2011
Omagh Academy v Cambridge House 2-30pm
Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy ¼ Final Saturday 29th January 2011
Lurgan College v Wellington College 10-30am
Antrim Grammar School v Portora Royal School 11-00am
Ballyclare High School travelled to Ashbourne RFC in the North Dublin suburbs to play against a very strong Clongowes Wood College team, a team that had been beaten by Campbell College in their last outing. Many observers of the Schools’ game in Leinster have tipped the Clongowes Wood College team for success in the 2011 Leinster Schools Cup competition so the game against them would be a good test for the Ballyclare High School team. The Leinster team started the game strongly and capitalised on Ballyclare handling errors to score three tries in the first 20 minutes. One of the tries was converted to give the Leinster lynch pins a 17-0 lead. However, the Ballyclare High School team responded very positively to the 17-0 deficit. Following good work from the Ballyclare High School pack at a lineout, the ball was driven towards the Clongowes line. Marc Logan forced his way over the Clongowes line for a well taken unconverted try. On the stroke of half time, good play from the Ballyclare back line created the space for the Ballyclare winger, Peter Ferguson, to score in the corner. Jonny Holmes was unsuccessful with the conversion attempt but his team had reduced the deficit to 17-10. Early in the second half saw the Clongowes Wood College pack dominate the set pieces, particularly the scrums. However, the Ballyclare pack worked hard to repel the good work of the Clongowes pack. They forced their way into the Clongowes Wood 10m area and got rewarded for their endeavours when Jonny Holmes converted a penalty opportunity to reduce the arrears to 17-13. Ballyclare proceeded to take the game to Clongowes but an unfortunate turn over enabled the Clongowes Wood back line to counter attack and score a try which was converted to put the Leinster team into a 24-13 lead with 15 minutes of the game remaining. The Ballyclare team was undeterred and scored a try through Jonny Darling with just minutes remaining. Jonny Holmes converted the try to take the score to 24-20 in favour of the Co Kildare team. Despite their best efforts, the Ballyclare High School team was unable to score any further points enabling the Clongowes team to record a 24-20 victory in this very entertaining game.
The Methodist College created a little piece of history when they travelled to and defeated the famous Colston’s College team in Bristol. The Methody team has recorded home wins against Colston’s College but it took the class of 2011 to record their first away win against their illustrious opponents from a school that can list players such as Ollie Barkley, Shane Geraghty, Jordan Crane, Lee Mears and Tom Varndell amongst an illustrious rugby playing Alumni. From the kick off the Methody pack retained the ball and, after a number of phases, worked their way into the Colston’s 22m area. This presented the opportunity for the Methodist College out half, Adam Berry, to open the scoring with a well taken drop goal to give his team the perfect start with a 3-0 lead. This early setback seemed to galvanise the Colston’s team and after a period of pressure the ball was moved wide to their right wing who crossed in the corner for an unconverted try which gave his Colston’s team a narrow 5-3 lead. From this point on the Methody team began to dominate by taking control of the set pieces and putting the Colston’s pack on to the back foot. After a period of pressure, Methody regained the lead when their No 8, Peter Logan, crossed for a try following a line out close to the Colston’s College line. Mark Gribben failed narrowly with his conversion attempt but his team had an 8-5 lead. Five minutes later Methody increased their lead when, after a number of phases, Adam Berry put centre Matthew McFaul clear to score close to the touchline. Mark Gribben converted the try with a well struck kick to extend Methody’s lead to 15-5. Ten minutes before half time both sides were temporarily reduced to 14 men when, after an incident involving a number of players, the referee sin binned the Colston’s loose head prop as well as Methody tight prop. This did not affect the impetus which Methody had built up and it was not long before they extended their lead when Mark Gribben beat a number of defenders to score a fine solo try. Mark converted his own try to see the score line read 22-5 to the Methodist College team. At this stage of the game the Methodist College team was well in control. Just before half time Year 12 prop, Ross Kane, barged his way over the Colston’s line following a quick piece of thinking by his scrum half, David McElhinney. Once again Mark Gribben was successful with his conversion leaving Methody 29-5 ahead at the break. The second half was a somewhat stop start affair as a result of numerous injuries and substitutions from both teams. The Colston’s College team was awarded a penalty 4 minutes after the restart but their penalty attempt missed by some distance. However, in the 50th minute they did manage to reduce the Methody lead when their No8 squeezed over in the corner for a try which went unconverted leaving the score at 29-10 to Methody. Shortly afterwards Methody had their Captain, Dan Kerr, sin binned for an indiscretion at the breakdown. He was soon joined on the touchline by a Colston’s player who was deemed to have committed a similar offence. Methody continued to press and went close to scoring on a number of occasions. Following a period of interplay between backs and forwards, Adam Berry found James Harrison in support. The mobile prop forward took full advantage and crossed for the last try of the game. Mark Gribben narrowly failed to convert the try leaving Methody winners by 34- 10 and enjoying their first victory against Colston’s College on English soil. The Methodist College players and coaching staff will see this game as an important part of their preparation for the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign and will be pleased with the general team performance. They will also be pleased with the all-round performance of their flanker, David Rea, who was making his debut on the Methodist College 1st xv team.

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