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BRA face hard task against Ballymena

By Ronnie Ingram

Published 19/02/2016

On the run: BRA’s Michael McCracken tries to escape Down High’s Lewis Finlay in the previous round of the Schools’ Cup
On the run: BRA’s Michael McCracken tries to escape Down High’s Lewis Finlay in the previous round of the Schools’ Cup

Ballymena Academy are a side brimming with talent, as they showed in their robust 12-3 triumph over a young but formidable Wallace High.

They had to be at their best against last season's beaten finalists and the same will be needed again to overcome a BRA side that enjoyed a straightforward 31-14 win over Grosvenor Grammar before a more challenging 13-7 victory at Down High.

Ballymena have an efficient half-back pairing in Michael Stronge and Bruce Houston, who have been given more than their share of possession from an exuberant pack that includes strong ball carriers in Josh Bill, Chris McLeister, Alexander Clarke and Jonny McKeown.

Their captain Marcus Rea, who has turned out for Ulster Under-19s, has proved his ability to lead and score tries. Their defence is also robust.

BRA entered the competition at the second round stage and gained a lot of confidence with that win in Downpatrick.

They had what some would deem a fortunate try when Tim Robinson showed plenty of initiative to follow up a missed penalty attempt and won the touchdown following a deflection.

To come away from Down High with a victory is no mean task but whether they can do it again at Ballymena is another matter. They will start as underdogs but the side well trained by David Creighton will fight right to the end.

They also have a strong halfback partnership in Scott McCauley and Conor McAuley and an accurate kicker in Michael Wilson who will punish any Ballymena indiscretions.

BALLYMENA ACADEMY: Davis Forsythe, Josh Bill, Matthew Moody, Joel Gocher, Scott Agnew, Alexander Clarke, Tim Savoury, Marcus Rea, Azur Allison, Jonathan McKeown, Andrew Hogg, Chris McLeister, Oisin Jordan, James McClean, Michael Stronge, Connor Cosgrove, Bruce Houston, Connor Agnew, Angus Kernohan, Jordan Foster, Mark Thompson, Conor Barkley, Tiarnan Martin, Ryan McKee, Alan Small, Conor Gallagher

BELFAST ROYAL ACADEMY: Kurtis Scott, Luke Auterson, Gareth McAdams, James Reid, James Lavery, Owen Minford, Matthew Borne, Tom Gilpin, Bradley Luney, Matthew Borne, Timothy Robinson, Cameron Brady, Cormac McCracken, Conor O'Neill, Jude Cowley, Jack Plackett, Scott McCauley , Conor McAuley, Francis Collins, Samuel Osborne, Lewis Davidson, Jason Stubbs, Jay McCrum, Jack Burton, Michael Wilson, James McMahon Beattie, Ethan Purcell, Abdullah Sabri, Joshua Hegarty,

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