Ulster Age Grade and Ulster Schools’ Round Up Saturday 6th September 2014. By Barney McGonigle

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There were three Ulster Age Grade games played on Friday 5th September and Saturday 6th September as well as some early season school friendly games played on Saturday 6th September.

The Ulster U20 team got the Inter-Provincial Age Grade proceedings of to a very positive start when they defeated a very dogged and determined Connacht U20 team by 27-7 at the Kingspan Stadium on Friday evening.

Played in front of an expectant crowd, the Ulster team struggled somewhat in the first half to get any real rhythm to their game. They had a number of opportunities to score tries but the final pass going astray allied to some questionable decision making ensured the Connacht line remained intact for the course of the first half.
Ulster did manage to take a 3-0 lead into the interval when Sean O’Hagan converted a penalty opportunity having been unfortunate with the boot on a number of occasions earlier in the game.
The second half was a different story. The Ulster U20 team emerged from the break and immediately took the ball into Connacht territory. Quick possession provided the opportunity for scrum half, Conor Young, to make a quick dart on the short side of a ruck, round the one remaining Connacht defender, to touch down for a great try. Sean O’Hagan added the extras to put the Ulster team into a 10-0 lead after just two minutes of the second half.
Connacht came back strongly and got some reward for their endeavours when their No 8, Stephen McVeigh, broke from the base of a scrum to touch down for a try. Aidan Moynihan added the extras to reduce the arrears to 10-7.
Back came Ulster with their midfield of Sean O’Hagan, Connor McKee and Sam Arnold getting through a lot of work. On twenty two minutes Adam Liddell took advantage of some poor defensive work from Connacht and bedazzled the opposition players to run in for a fine try. Sean O’Hagan added the conversion to see the Ulster team into a 17-7 lead.
Four minutes later this became 27-7 when Jack Owens finished of a flowing Ulster move to touch down for an unconverted try. Ulster continued to pressurise the Connacht defence and it came as little surprise when Ulster No 8, Lorcan Dow, controlled the ball well following a powerful Ulster scrum. He touched down for an unconverted try to leave the final score reading 27-7 in favour of the Ulster U20 team who got their Inter Provincial campaign of to a successful bonus point win.

Next up was the Ulster U19 team who hosted their Connacht counterparts on the pristine Belfast Harlequin’s pitch on Saturday 6th September.

The Ulster U19 team, current U19 Interprovincial Champions, got their defence of the title of to a good start with a hard earned 24-17 win.
Ulster controlled proceedings early in the game and took a 7-0 lead after ten minutes when Angus McCartney sent Jonny Rosborough away from his 22m area. Jonny’s power and pace ensured he outstripped a despairing Connacht defence to touch down for a try. Gareth Millar was successful with his conversion kick. Four minutes later this became 14-0 when Kieran Joyce made a telling midfield break before off-loading to Matthew Fisher who ran in for the touchdown. Gareth Millar added the conversion.
Connacht recovered from these setbacks and, at times, it took good Ulster defence to ensure their line remained intact. However, the Connacht team reduced the arrears to 14-3 just before the interval when Simon Keller was successful with a penalty kick.
Both teams emerged after the break to play a positive brand of rugby with the ball in hand at every opportunity. Twelve minutes into the second half the visitors got reward for their positive attitude when their centre, Andrew Lynch, ran in for a try. Simon Keller converted the try to reduce the Connacht arrears to 14-10.
The Connacht team was asking questions of the Ulster defence but the good work of Josh McElroy, Conall Boomer and Adam McBurney at the breakdown ensured the Connacht team could not get the quality possession they desired. Indeed, it was the Ulster team that scored the next two tries when Andrew Cardosi touched down for an unconverted try midway through the second period and Adam McBurney did likewise after twenty four minutes. These points ensured Ulster had a 24-10 lead going into the final ten minutes of the game.
Determined as ever, the Connacht team recorded the next score of the game when their winger, Patrick Daly, outmanoeuvred the Ulster defence to run in for a fine try. Simon Keller added the conversion to take the score to 24-17 with just minutes remaining. One last Connacht attack, which was quelled by the Ulster scramble defence, ensured it was a relieved Ulster U19 squad that celebrated a hard earned, but ultimately deserved, 24-17 bonus point win at the no-side whistle.

The Ulster Schools’ team travelled to play Connacht Schools at Ballinasloe on Saturday 6th September.

The Ulster Schools’ team completed a very successful weekend for the Ulster Age Grade teams when they emerged from this contest as deserved 53-0 winners.
The Ulster Schools’ team controlled the game from the kick-off and took an early first minute lead when a midfield burst from Zach Jordan put Robert Lyttle in for a try which he converted to put the Ulster Schools’ team into a 7-0 lead.
Nine minutes later good pressure from an Ulster scrum forced the Connacht team into giving away a penalty. Robert Lyttle converted the penalty to give the Ulster Schools’ team a 10-0 lead.
Midway through the first half good attacking play from the Ulster backline created space for a Conor Field try. Robert Lyttle converted the try to put the Ulster Schools’ team into a 17-0 lead. Close to the break this scoreline was increased to 22-0 when Jonny McKeown broke down the left hand side of the pitch. Ben Pentland took possession and drove strongly to the Connacht line where Fergus Jemphrey gained possession to drive over for an unconverted try.
Just on half time the Ulster Schools’ team scored a try through Robert Lyttle which Matthew McDowell converted to see the Ulster Schools’ team into a 29-0 halftime lead.
It was more of the same in the second half. Ulster took advantage of a Connacht overthrow in the first minute of the second half when Ben Pentland gathered the ball to send Fergus Jemphrey in for a forty metre dash to touch down for his second try of the game. The try was unconverted but the Ulster team now had a 34-0 lead.
Thirteen minutes into the second half Conor Kelly broke out from his own 22m area to outpace a despairing home defence and run in for a try from a full eighty metres. Robert Lyttle added the extras to put the Ulster Schools’ team into an unassailable 41-0 lead.
The Ulster Schools’ team was not finished yet and midway through the second half Conor Field made a telling break which ended with good field position for the Ulster team. Ben O’Reilly took full advantage and ran in for a try which Matthew McDowell converted to see the Ulster team into a 48-0 lead.
The final try of the game came with just five minutes to go when Jack Howard won the race for the touchdown following a clever grubber kick from Joel McBride. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Ulster Schools’ team had emerged from the first of their Interprovincial games as successful 53-0 winners.

On Saturday 13th September the next of the Age Grade Interprovincials will take place when the Ulster U20’s team plays Leinster U20’s at the Kingspan Stadium, The Ulster U19’s team plays Leinster U19’s at Belfast Harlequin’s RFC and The Ulster Schools’ travels to Dublin at play Leinster Schools’ at St Mary’s College RFC at Templeville Road. Support would be greatly appreciated by the Ulster players at these games.

As well as the Age Grade Inter Provincial games a number of schools played training games, Tournament games and friendly games on Saturday 6th September.

Grosvenor Grammar School hosted their annual Ian H Graham Trophy competition with Wesley College, Grosvenor GS, Belfast Royal Academy, Rainey Endowed School and Banbridge Academy all featuring. Wesley College emerged as winners for the third year with Belfast Royal Academy finishing a close second. Good performances came from all schools with large squads of players taking part. For the Banbridge Academy team there were positive performances from players such as Michael McGaffin, Jonny Campbell, Daniel McElderry and Ben Carson. Mr Ian H Graham is convalescing following recent surgery. He was unable to be present to present the Trophy to Wesley College but the best wishes of all involved in this tournament, and indeed all involved with rugby in Ulster Schools, go to Ian for a full and speedy recovery.

Antrim Grammar School hosted a three school Round Robin Tournament involving Antrim GS, Carrickfergus Grammar School and Friends’ School, Lisburn.

The Carrick team defeated Antrim by 19-0 and drew with Friends’ School. The Friends’ School team defeated the Antrim Grammar School team by a comprehensive margin.. All teams used this to play extended squads with players such as Jake Porter, David Carse, Reece Berry, Kris Berry, Scott Henderson, Tom Gilpin, Joel White, Iain Woodside, Bradley Luney, Luke Baker, Philip McGuigan and Nathan Doherty all getting valuable experience for the Carrickfergus Grammar School team.

Omagh Academy hosted a Five-Team-Blitz involving teams from Omagh Academy, Portora Royal School, Royal School, Dungannon, Foyle and Londonderry College and Limavady Grammar School.

Results from the Blitz were Omagh Academy 5 Portora Royal School 5, Royal School, Dungannon 0 Foyle College 5, Omagh Academy 0 Royal School, Dungannon 5, Limavady GS 0 Portora RS 7, Omagh Academy 17 Limavady GS 0, Foyle College 3 Portora RS 0, Foyle College 8 Limavady GS 5, Portora RS 5 RS Dungannon 0, Omagh Academy 8 Foyle College 0, Royal School, Dungannon 10 Limavady GS 7. All teams involved used extended squads which will have a benefit in the weeks ahead. Young Omagh Academy players such as Dean Kane, Fintan Lagan and James Longwell made positive impressions with the experience of established players such as Adam Stephenson, Matthew Sproule, Stuart Ballentine, Ethan McKeown and Jake Cunningham shining through. All the players would like to thank the three Ulster Branch referees who made the activities such a success.

Portadown College and Lurgan College played out a training game by working on attacking and defensive situations from set piece and broken play scenarios.

The teams finished with a thirty minute game which the Lurgan team dominated. The Lurgan boys scored four tries with Harry Webb touching down twice, Jonny Hunter scoring an intercept try with is brother, Jamie, finishing off proceedings with a try of his own.

Ballyclare High School and Ballymena Academy played out an early season friendly with both teams missing players on Age Grade Rep duty.

The Ballyclare HS team won the game by 12-5. Ballyclare took a 5-0 twenty minutes into the first half when Jack Black took advantage of good work from his pack to run in for an unconverted try.
Both teams had opportunities for points from penalties in the first half but the kicking chances were missed. There were no further first half scores.
Five minutes into the second half Ballyclare charged down a kick and regained possession to score through Jordan Rainey. Outhalf, Owen Hutchinson, converted the try to see his team into a 12-0 lead.
Five minutes later the Ballymena Academy team reduced the arrears 12-5 when great continuity play presented Angus Kernohan with the opportunity to run in for an unconverted try.
Despite the best intentions of both teams there were no further scores leaving the Ballyclare High School team as 12-5 winners.

Belfast High School hosted Coleraine Academical Institution in a game the Coleraine AI team won by 17-11.

The visitors took a 5-0 lead early in the game when Ollie McDowell barged over from short range to touch down for an unconverted try. Twelve minutes later the teams drew level when the Belfast High School winger ran in for an unconverted try following a period of High School pressure in the Coleraine AI 22m area.
Despite the best attempts of both teams there were no further scores in the first half leaving the score at 5-5 at the interval.
Ten minutes into the second half the Belfast HS team took an 8-5 lead when they converted a penalty kick. Two minutes later the Belfast High School lead extended to 11-5 when they were once again successful with a penalty kick opportunity.
On fifty minutes Coleraine AI struck back with a well worked try. Callum Smith made a half break and off loaded to Andrew Wisener. From the ensuing ruck, Alastair Corbett made an excellent break and off loaded to winger, Daniel McCreadie. Daniel made good ground and popped the ball inside to Mac O’Neill. The big prop was stopped just short of the Belfast High School line but hooker, David Greatorex, was on hand to pick up and dived over the line for a try. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Coleraine AL team had reduced the arrears to 11-10.
The Coleraine AI team now started to dominate with Callum Smith controlling both territory and possession. On fifty five minutes the Coleraine 2nd Row, George McKeag made an excellent break just inside the Belfast HS half. In the next phase of play his 2nd row partner, James Bleakly, made greater inroads into Belfasdt HS territory with a powerful run only to be stopped just short of the line. Daniel McAllister and Ryan Gillan attempted to dive over from short range but were thwarted by a resolute defence. Oliver McDowell was unstoppable with a short range burst, and the blind side wing forward went over for his second try. Callum Smith converted to give his Coleraine AI team a 17-11 lead, a lead they held until the final whistle.

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