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Methody can maintain grip on southerners

By Niall Crozier

Belfast’s Methodist College and RBAI will host prestigious southern opponents in schools’ rugby friendlies tomorrow morning.

Peter Melia-coached Christian Brother’s College, Cork are coming to Pirrie Park to face a Methody side that so far this season has proved too good for rivals from Leinster and Munster.

Much of the credit for that goes to the pack in which James Harrison, Dan Kerr, Oliver McCollum, Ryan Annett and Peter Logan (below) have shone in providing possession for backs like Matthew McFall, Peter Colhoun and Marc Gribben to exploit.

Over at Osborne Park, RBAI’s guests will be Dubliners, St Michael’s College.

With Blackrock College’s scalp already in the bag, the hosts will fancy their chances against their southern visitors. With players of the calibre of Kevin McLean, Nathan Dougan, Michael Kilpatrick and Zach Welshman in the line-up, that certainly is a distinct possibility.

BRA, meanwhile, travel to Banbridge for a meeting of more than academic interest.

Hosts Banbridge Academy will hope that Michael Runciman, Chrissy Craig, Andrew McConnell, Tom Jess, Bradley Martin and company are able to counter the talents of BRA’s Ryan Clarke, Matthew Robinson, Eoin Devlin, Stuart Olding, Robbie Jamison et al.

Still-unbeaten Ballyclare HS — the only school in Ulster able to boast a 100 per cent record — should extend that excellent run at the expense of Belfast HS.

Ballyclare’s forwards have provided the platform on which this success has been built, with hooker Marc Logan and No 8 Jonny Darling to the fore and fly-half Jonny Holmes and wing Peter Kennedy prominent among those making the most of the service they have laid on.

Tomorrow morning also sees an all-Lisburn derby as Friends host neighbours Wallace HS.

Cal McIlwaine, Jordan Heatley, Daniel Henry, Chris Taylor, David Scott and Nathan McClatchey provide six good reasons for Wallace’s belief that they hold sway, though with Friends hoping to welcome back Jonny MacCorkell, Rory McIvor and Jamie Robinson, their backs could prosper.

RS Dungannon are away to Regent House and following their fine win over Bangor GS, the visitors will travel to Newtownards with a wholly justifiable degree of confidence of felling another North Down side.

Another of the Royal Schools, Armagh, also take to the road — in their case en route to Belfast, where Grosvenor GS await.

Mark Foster, Scott Irvine and Peter Davidson were Grosvenor’s stand-out players in the drawn Graham Trophy final against Banbridge Academy and they will need to be at their best again if they are to thwart RSA.

Sullivan Upper host the well-balanced Down HS, who are likely to prove too strong for the Holywood lads.

Rainey ES’s guests are Carrickfergus GS, whose former mentor Chris Campbell now coaches the Magherafelt school and so should know plenty about the opposition.

Again, a home win is the likely outcome.

Coleraine AI, who have lost their way in recent times, will seek to bounce back against Bangor GS.

Larne GS, still buzzing after beating neighbouring Carrickfergus GS, entertain Cambridge House, who look good enough to prick the hosts’ balloon, while Omagh Academy’s host Portadown College.

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