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Grosvenor up for the fight

Grosvenor GS 11-10 Bangor

By Michael Sadlier

It was a nerve-shredding encounter which was in the balance right to the end, but Grosvenor Grammar School's heroic defence kept Bangor Grammar at bay and deservedly earned the east Belfast school their place in the fourth round.

Grosvenor will have to wait to find out who they meet next and will be travelling to either Friends' School or making the longer journey to Coleraine Grammar after those sides drew 10-10 with the replay set for Wednesday.

In the other games, Dalriada beat Limavady 13-5 and now get to host Ballymena Academy, who enter the competition in round four, while BRA hammered Portadown College 41-8 and will entertain either Rainey Endowed or Regent House, who play on Wednesday after their clash was postponed.

Royal School Armagh's 17-7 victory at Royal School Dungannon sees them on the road to meet Enniskillen Royal, who got the better of Dromore by 25-7.

Ballyclare High School overcame Lurgan College 35-18 but must now deal with having to face formidable holders Royal Belfast Academical Institution at Osborne Park.

The remaining sides entering in round four see Down High School host Methodist College, Wallace entertain Omagh Academy and last year's defeated finalists Campbell College will play Sullivan Upper at Fox's Field.

Saturday's game at Grosvenor was a full-on display of endeavour and fortitude from both sides with a stand-out performance from the home team's inside centre Jos McConkey, whose power and accuracy with the tee played a key role, while Bangor's full-back Aaron Sexton was a constant threat.

There was also some great work going forward from Bangor No.8 Matthew Agnew and Grosvenor full-back Conor Kernohan won a big moment with his try-saving tackle on Sexton early in the second half along with centre Ryan Ashfield's crucial hit on the same player.

Indeed, special mention has to be made of how well Grosvenor's Mark Courtney played at out-half following pivotal player Daniel Martin's early departure through injury.

"We just kept believing and fighting," said Grosvenor coach Andrew Gibson. "I think the key difference was that we took the opportunities when they came.

"The boys fought so hard and defended for their lives."

A clearly disappointed Bangor coach Jason Morgan praised Grosvenor's greater hunger and the effort put in by his own squad who now play Limavady in the Schools' Bowl quarter-final.

"We had opportunities and didn't take them and Grosvenor had three opportunities and took them - that's cup rugby," he said.

On another day, Bangor would probably have done enough to win - they did come back from 8-0 down to lead 10-8 - but their ambition got the better of them when kickable points were on offer. But this in no way detracts from Grosvenor's commitment in taking their points and battening down the hatches after reclaiming the lead with 10 minutes left.

After McConkey had kicked Grosvenor into a 3-0 lead on 15 minutes, the home side put on a surge which saw lock Ben Davidson smash over before half-time.

Bangor came back with Kerr kicking a penalty early in the second half and then, after 56 minutes, the visitors turned down a kickable penalty for a scrum.

Agnew picked and his pass to Kerr saw the centre score with his conversion nudging Bangor in front by 10-8.

The momentum now looked to have left Grosvenor but an intercept by Nathan Chan took play deep into Bangor territory and after Sexton's high tackle, McConkey coolly slotted the penalty to herald the tense endgame which saw Grosvenor hold firm.

Results: Limavady GS 5 Dalriada 13, Grosvenor GS 11 Bangor GS 10, Portadown College 8-BRA 41, Friends' School 10 Coleraine GS 10 (replay Wednesday), RS Dungannon 7 RS Armagh 17, Rainey Endowed v Regent House postponed (Wednesday), Dromore HS 7 Enniskillen Royal GS 25, Lurgan College 18 Ballyclare HS 35

Round Four draw: Friends' School/Coleraine GS v Grosvenor GS, Dalriada v Ballymena Academy, Down High School v MCB, BRA v Rainey Endowed/Regent House, Wallace High School v Omagh Academy, Campbell College v Sullivan Upper, RBAI v Ballyclare HS, Enniskillen Royal GS v RS Armagh

Games to be played on Saturday, February 4

Belfast Telegraph

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