Portadown College Rugby 7 v Down High Rugby 32!!!! 90 Action Shots!!!! + Report!!!

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Many thanks to Guy McCullough for the pictures!
This game took place at Chamber’s Park, home of Portadown RFC. The overhead, as well as underfoot, conditions were excellent and both teams attracted enthusiastic groups of supporters. Due to the half term break there were some players not available for selection for both teams while the Portadown College team lost David Busby to an injury picked up while working with the Ulster Rugby Sub Academy group. This injury robbed the Portadown College team of a key player in this critical game.
Both Down High School and Portadown College were disappointed at going out of the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup at the 3rd Round stage. However, they saw the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Bowl competition as an opportunity to extend their season and both teams could have seen themselves as potential winners of the Ulster Schools’ Bowl. As it turned out it was the Down High team that bounced back from their recent Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup disappointment to record a comprehensive 32-7 victory in the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Bowl competition against a Portadown College side that had beaten the Down High School team twice earlier in the season. Down High School kicked off playing into a slight breeze and had the better of the early exchanges. However, it was the Portadown College team who opened the scoring on fourteen minutes when Ryan Calvert sliced through weak Down High midfield defence to off-load cleverly to Michael Busby who touched down under the Down High School posts for a converted try and a 5-0 lead. Michael added the conversion to see his team into a 7-0 lead. Down High School hit back and worked their way back into the Portadown College 22m area. Good work from Chris Martin ensured quick ruck ball which enabled Ricky Gill to nip over from five metres to score the opening try for his Down High School team. Justin Rea added the conversion to level the scores at 7-7. Down High School further increased their lead just before half time when they moved the ball left to right from a scrum on half way line. The impressive Luc Bonnargent, whose father Patrice graced the same pitch in the blue of the Portadown Club team many seasons ago, made an excellent break fending off several would be tacklers before releasing Luca Rea to finish off an excellent move in the right hand corner. Justin Rea landed the conversion and Down High took a 14-7 lead into the interval. In the second half Down High School had the breeze in their favour and took advantage to keep the Portadown College team pinned for long periods of time in their own half. With forty five minutes gone Justin Rea increased the lead to 17-7 with a well struck penalty from forty metres following another impressive piece of attacking play from Luc Bonnargent. Five minutes later Justin was successful with a second penalty opportunity, after a Portadown College infringement 30 metres out to the left of the posts, to give his team a 20-7 lead. Portadown hit back and put together several phases to work their way deep into the Down High School 22m area. However, the visitor’s defence held firm and, just when it looked like the Portadown backline may have created a scoring opportunuity in the corner, Luca Rea intercepted a scoring pass and showed good pace to sprint seventy metres to touch down for his second try in the corner. The try was not converted but the Down High School team now had a 25-7 lead with just five minutes remaining on the clock. Down High School played controlled rugby to run down the clock down but were still able to extend their lead further when, with the last play of the match, Justin Rea received quick ball from a ruck ten metres out and cut through a tired Portadown College defence to score a try to the right of the posts. Justin converted his own try to take his personal tally to seventeen points and leave the final score reading 32-7 in favour of his Down High School team in this entertaining Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Bowl Quarter-Final game. Down High School will now travel to play Belfast Royal Academy in the Semi-Final of the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Bowl at the Roughfort playing fields on Saturday 25th February.
Both Portadown College and Down High School would like to thank the Portadown Rugby Club for the use of their facilities and hosting this game.

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