Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Round Up Saturday 4th February 2012:

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There was one remaining Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 3 game played on Wednesday 1st February. The Cambridge House v Wellington College game had been postponed due to frost on Saturday 28th January but the game was re-organised quickly in line with the regulations of the competition.
The Cambridge House team started the game strongly dominating all aspects of play in the opening exchanges.

They took an early 3-0 lead when Timmy Small converted a penalty opportunity following a wellington College infringement at a ruck. The home team continued their positive start and with a good flow of quality possession available for them to use, they had the Wellington College defence working hard. After twenty five minutes of the first half, the Cambridge House pressure eventually was rewarded. Timmy Small made the initial break and, following good work from his forwards, linked with his brother, Philip who crashed over for a try. The try was not converted but the Cambridge House team had a comfortable 8-0 lead. The final few minutes of the first half saw the Wellington College team gain a territorial advantage but the well-organised Cambridge House defence ensured their line remained intact. There were no further scores in the first half ensuring the Cambridge House team held onto their 8-0 lead at the interval. The Cambridge House team, with Ryan Uprichard in outstanding form, continued to dominate the early stages of the second half. Wellington College lost their influential outhalf, Adam Webb, to a recurring shoulder problem but did manage to reduce the arrears to 8-3 when David Marshall converted a penalty opportunity. Cambridge House took play back deep into the Wellington College 22m area. The visitor’s defence with Michael Hamilton, James Hayes, Andrew Hanna and Sam Bridge defending superbly, held out until just five minutes from time when the Cambridge House team scored a try through Ryan Upritchard. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the home team now had a 13-3 lead. The Wellington College team lost the influential Josh Garnham and James Hayes to injury and was unfortunate not to score a try when the ball was dropped with the line at their mercy. Despite valiant effort from players such as Owen Jarvie and David Marshall, the visitors had no further opportunity to score and it was the Cambridge House team that celebrated their deserved 13-3 win at the final whistle. The Cambridge House team will now play Banbridge Academy in the 4th Round of the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup in Banbridge on Saturday 11th February.

With the 4th Round games of the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup due to be played on Saturday 11th February, a number of fixtures scheduled for Saturday 4th were cancelled. Some schools wanted to give players returning from injury a weekend off while others wanted to fine tune their preparations for the forthcoming games in the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup, Bowl and Trophy competitions.

Four games did take place with the closest encounter of the morning, involving RS Dungannon and Ballymena Academy, taking place on the WK Armstrong pitch at the Royal School.

The game was a competitive and entertaining contest, with both packs of forwards working hard to establish dominance at the breakdown. Ballymena Academy opened the scoring when Darren Geddis slotted a penalty in the 10th minute tyo give his team a 3-0 lead. The RS Dungannon team then enjoyed an extended period of possession which culminated in their left winger, Peter Cashel, chipping into space behind the Ballymena defence and winning the foot race to touch down for a fine individual try. The conversion was missed and the score stayed 5-3 in favour of the home team until just before the break when Darren Geddis was successful with his second penalty of the morning to give the Ballymena Academy team a 6-5 interval lead. Early in the second half, both sides had opportunities to put points on the board but neither was able to make the crucial yards over the opposition try-line. Andrew Clingan, Mark Wright and Stephen Rodgers worked hard in defence for the RS Dungannon team while Matthew Rea, George Hargy and Sam McNabney all impressed for the visitors. Ballymena Academy extended their lead to 9-5 midway through the second half with another Darren Geddis penalty. The game remained finely poised until the last few minutes when Ballymena Academy’s scrum half, Jack Fleming, broke clear and showed excellent pace to finish in the corner. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Ballymena Academy team had recorded a hard earned 14-5 victory.

Royal School, Armagh travelled to play Omagh Academy at the Campsie playing fields in Omagh.

The visitors played into the wind in the first half and, despite a spirited performance from the Omagh Academy team, managed to control both possession and territory for long periods of time. Stuart Hooks opened the scoring for the RS Armagh team with an excellent individual try. The hard working Matthew Clarke then got in on the act with a try of his own. Shortly after this the RS Armagh wingers, Daniel Ewart and Daniel Reaney touched down for one try each. Alistair Wright added two conversions to take the RS Armagh tally to twenty four points. In response the home team, on rare visits into the opposition 22m area, had Greg Deazley to thank for converting two penalty opportunities. With the halftime score reading 24-6 in favour of the RS Armagh team, both teams decided to make use of their extended squad players. These players all made a good impression but there were no further scores in the course of the second half. Both teams were pleased to get a game in preparation for important Cup and Trophy games next weekend.

Foyle and Londonderry College recovered from the disappointment of their Schools’ Cup defeat by Banbridge Academy to overcome the spirited resistance provided by the Belfast High School team when the two sides met in the Maiden City.

The Foyle College team started strongly and got rewarded for their early endeavours when Jordan Cairns took advantage of good work from his pack to touch down for the first try of the game after fifteen minutes. Neil Burns added the conversion to put his team into a 7-0 lead. The Belfast High School team responded positively to this setback and, from the restart, took play deep into Foyle territory. Good work from the High School pack presented the opportunity for Scott Shaw to rumble over for a try. The conversion was missed but the Belfast High School team had reduced the arrears to 7-5. In the final quarter of the first half the Foyle team scored a try through Ryan Curry which was converted by Neil Burns to extend the Foyle lead to 14-5. The Belfast High School team responded immediately with an unconverted try from Robbie Reid to take the score to 14-10. On the stroke of halftime, Neil Burns successfully converted a penalty opportunity to give his team a 17-10 lead at the interval. The Foyle College team continued in the second half where they had finished the first half by pressurising the Belfast High School defence. Kyle Henderson scored a try which Neil Burns converted to give the home team a 24-10 lead. Neil Burns then sealed the game with another successful penalty kick to ensure a Foyle College win by 27-10.

The Portadown College team was devastated to lose their 3rd Round Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup match against RS Dungannon in the last minute of the game.

However, they showed no ill effects of that defeat when they travelled to play Friends’ School at the Magheralave Road venue in Lisburn. The visitors controlled the game from start to finish and gave the young Friends’ team a torrid time. Portadown College struggled to beat Friends just before Christmas but found no trouble this time around as they continued to perform their expansive approach to the game by running the ball at every opportunity. The Friends’ School team had no answer to the College backline attacking play, led ably by David Busby, who scored a hatrick of tries. From start to finish, the College team dominated the play, starving the young Friends side of any possession and creating phase after phase of play, ultimately ending with a penetrating run from one of the College backline. All in all the College side scored eight tries ably helped by the boot of Michael Busby who converted six as well as adding a penalty. This performance helped considerably to lift the spirits of the Portadown College squad following their Cup exit last week and sets them up for the tricky tie with Down High next week in the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Bowl. Noticeable performances came from Scott Jameson (Hooker), Ross Purvis (2nd Row), Andrew Richardson (open side), Michael Busby (centre), and Andrew Steele (Fullback). While the Friends’ School team lost heavily they can take some comfort from the performances of players such as Ross Robinson, Daniel Bell and, in particular, Dean Howes.

Wallace High School and Bangor Grammar School played out a series of controlled game situations which both players and coaches found useful as they finalise their preparations for their Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup games next weekend.

There were seven Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Shield Round 4 games played on Saturday 4th February. The results were as follows:-

Coleraine Academical Institution 18 Belfast Royal Academy 7

Sullivan Upper (Current Holders) 32 Ballyclare High School 3

Belfast High School 0 Royal Belfast Academical Inst 12

Portora Royal School 3 Regent House 0

Down High School 0 Campbell College 13

Royal School, Armagh 15 Dromore High School 15 (Replay TBC)

Ballymena Academy 5 Methodist College 15

Wallace High School v Dalriada Sch (Tuesday 7th February)

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