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Ballymena weather fierce Wallace storm

Wallace High School 17 - Ballymena Academy 21

By Ronnie Ingram

Ballymena Academy qualified to meet RBAI in the Schools’ Cup semi-final for the second successive season but had to withstand some Wallace High pressure in the final quarter before emerging victors in Lisburn.

Ulster Schools’ Angus Kernohan made an immense difference to the visitors’ performance when he came on for the final 10 minutes against Dalriada in the last round. The centre who had been out with a hamstring injury made an early impact when following constructive work by Alexander Clarke and Azur Allison he surged past a couple of defenders before going under the posts for Bruce Houston to add the points.

Wallace came back and exerted some pressure but the stout visiting defence held before an infringement at a scrum allowed Tom McKendry to reduce the arrears with a penalty.

Then it was the turn of Ballymena to gain the upper hand and their reward was a second try from Kernohan who has trained with Irish Schools.

From a scrum he took a hard line and made it under the posts again for Houston to convert.

Just after the restart Ballymena added a further seven points when their other representative centre Stewart Moore ran in for the third try which was also goaled.

Wallace launched attack after attack before Sam Cardosi crossed for the try which Conor Rankin goaled and that gave them renewed confidence.

The pack was rejuvenated and they gave their all resulting in another converted try from Josh Cardosi to bring them within four points.

The result was still in the balance but Ballymena held on to their advantage to qualify for Kingspan.

“We made a couple of changes and that allowed Wallace back into the tie,” said Gavin Murray, who coaches the team along with John Andrews.

“We were rather disjointed for a time and Wallace won possession and we just couldn’t win it back. They had the better of the play for quite a time but I must give credit to our defence.

“It was a competent all-round effort. We now face Inst and they are favourites but we are happy with the draw. We knew we would probably have to face them at some stage and we will be ready.”

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