Academy scramble to Ravenhill showpiece
BRA 16 Wallace HS 12
Belfast Royal Academy booked their place in the Northern Bank Schools’ Cup final on St Patrick’s Day after a nail-biting finish to their semi-final win over Wallace High yesterday.
Academy won most of the possession throughout and kept their opponents inside their own territory for long periods but just could not turn that dominance into points against a robust Wallace defence.
The Belfast team started strongly but Wallace absorbed the pressure and then, on one of their few visits to their opponent's ‘22', ran in an excellent try. Andrew Gilmore ran through and converted before David Cartmill reduced the arrears with a penalty.
The Lisburn team struck back before the interval when, from a line-out, Stewart Evans drove over in the corner. Other outstanding forwards in the Wallace pack were flankers Rory Stewart and Colin Munn and No 8 Jamie Clements who all gave a lot.
The trend continued in the second period with Academy again controlling the play and Wallace showing plenty of competitiveness in defence.
Cartmill was in excellent kicking form and any indiscretions were punished.
He was on target with two penalties making the score 9-12 with ten minutes remaining.
Academy kept trying to break through the tenacious defence but then Wallace's David Scott was injured and had to leave the pitch.
That was a setback as he had been tackling strongly in the centre. Then Cartmill came close to scoring when he made 25 metres to within ten of the Wallace line but lacked support at the vital time.
That gave the Belfast team encouragement as their opponents looked as though they were tiring against the onslaught.
In injury time, after four or five phases Academy kept the ball tight and then spread it wide and, with the overlap, scrum-half Conor Spence, who had an outstanding game, passed to Stuart Olding and the out-half found Cartmill.
The strong running centre dashed through with little resistance to touch down and kick the conversion
After the game coach Chris McCarey was delighted.
“For our boys to come back from 3-12 down showed excellent composure,” he said.
“We built up the momentum in the second period but, at one stage, I thought the clock was going to run out.
“But full credit to Wallace who gave their all.”
The official man-of-the-match was Conor Spence but a special mention must go to David Cartmill who showed his all round ability and scored the vital try as well as contributing all his team's points.
BRA: J Buchanan, M Robinson, D Cartmill, M Glover, E Devlin, S Olding, C Spence, D McCallum, N Sinclair, A Martin, N O'Neill, C Leckey, T Vincent, R Clarke, J Henderson
Wallace High: A Hanley, J Heatley, D Scott, A Gilmore, C Matthews, M Godfrey, A McCollum, C Spence, C Taylor, K McCall, D Henry, S Evans, C Munn, R Stewart, J Clements
Referee: R Kerr