Foyle College 13 Down HS 24
Down High came from behind to record a comfortable victory after their long journey to Foyle in Londonderry to secure a home draw with Ballyclare High.
A late try by TJ McCavera secured victory for the visitors.
John Gunson, the Down High coach, who scored the match winning try in the All-Ireland Senior Cup final a few years ago, knew it was going to be tight.
“It was tough going and Foyle played well. Our boys stuck together and we managed a victory.
“I thought Chris Gibson at scrum-half was an ideal link and No 8 Nathan Donnan was always in the action and strong in defence.
“We now look forward to a home tie against Ballyclare High.”
Foyle coach David Barnett thought his team kept to their task and could have won.
“We gifted them a couple of tries but some of our players had outstanding games. Flanker Patrick Leeson put in a lot of work and Neil Burns performed more than adequately when he moved from centre to out-half,” he said.
“Centre Kyle Henderson had to go off with a knee injury. This was his first game back after being in and out all season but he only lasted 20 minutes and his absence was a set-back.
“We gave them a tough game although they were the stronger at the close.”
There was little between the teams in the first half although Down took their chances and were 12-3 in front at the interval.
They went ahead when tight head prop Nathan Gibson crossed following a line-out and this gave the visitors the incentive to keep attacking.
Down increased their advantage when good work by Luca Rea created an opportunity for a good back move which resulted in centre Ricky Gill going over.
Just before the interval, Foyle mounted an attack and their reward was a Neil Burns try.
The home team started the second period strongly and following another Burns penalty they took a one point lead when centre Ryan Curry dashed through for Burns to goal.
Down soon regained the advantage when prop Kelvin Hamilton crashed over from five metres for a converted try and 19-13 lead.
The issue was put beyond doubt when McCavera ran down the wing and scored.