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Debutants Dromore show their top quality to bounce back and earn a replay against Banbridge

Banbridge Academy 8 Dromore High School 8

By Ronnie Ingram

Dromore High impressed in their first ever game in the Danske Bank Schools' Cup, earning a 8-8 draw against Banbridge Academy and a replay on Wednesday afternoon.

The visitors started strongly and should have gone ahead early on, but the ball was dropped over the Banbridge line.

Dromore coach Josh Pentland said: "We dominated the possession during that period with the line-out working well and Aaron Lyttle (below) and second-row forward Richard Dickson putting in a tremendous amount of work.

"Excellent ball carrying by No.8 Ben Heath and intelligent kicking by out-half Reuben Cobb set up a number of chances."

Scrum-half Rhys Dale was a continuous threat but for all their territorial advantage they only led 3-0 at the interval from a Ben Martin penalty.

Banbridge coach Brian Leslie must have given his team a stern talk at half-time as the roles were reversed after the restart. They were much the better team and won the majority of possession. Dromore held their slim advantage until the final 16 minutes when the home side executed a fine try.

Leslie said: "We were held up a couple of times over their line but after a number of phases hooker Timmy Beattie crashed over in the corner. During the half we had 80 per cent of the territory. I thought we had a try earlier when the ball appeared to be grounded at the base of the posts but full credit to Dromore, who defended stoutly.

"A couple of minutes later we were 8-3 ahead with a penalty from our out-half Ross Cartmill and then there were only minutes remaining."

Dromore never gave up, however, and fully warranted their draw.

Captain Ben Martin broke through the home defence and the reward was a penalty which resulted in a line-out close to the home line.

A short throw caught Banbridge napping as Lyttle found Dickson, who passed back for the prop to crash over in the corner. Martin just missed the conversion but the home team were given a late chance to snatch victory but the penalty attempt missed.

Leslie is looking forward to the replay. He said: "If we can continue where we left off I'll be happy. We are away from home which makes it more difficult.

"I thought the work rate of our No.8 Angus Corlett was magnificent and full-back Robbie Little, who was out of action for four weeks due to concussion, never missed a tackle. It was a great advert for rugby. I was amazed by the number of fans from both schools."

The replay winners will have a home tie against Enniskillen Royal in the third round.

Belfast Telegraph

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