Heavyweights reunited - Methody and Inst set to do battle again in tie of the round
There is a tantalising tie in store when the Danske Bank Schools’ Cup enters its quarter-final stage in two weeks time.
Methodist College and Royal Belfast Academical Institution, the two most successful sides in the history of the competition with 63 outright titles between them, will meet in the last eight after being paired together in Saturday’s draw.
Considered by many to be the two strongest teams in schools rugby this season, the Belfast rivals met at Ravenhill in the final last year with Methody proving victorious by a score of 20-5.
The holders advanced to quarter-finals with a 29-0 home victory over a brave Limavady Grammar side who made them work hard for the win.
The visitors had the better of the first half but, after taking the lead just before half-time, Nicky Wells' team ran away with the contest after the turn.
RBAI’s margin of victory was considerably smaller as they came through their tussle with Dalriada School in Ballymoney with a 14-7 win.
If they are to win their first title since 2007, however, they will have to become the first team to beat Methody in this competition since 2011. Richard Hedley’s side will be counting on home advantage and they are always a formidable proposition at Cranmore Park.
Down High School produced the story of the round as they advanced to the quarter-finals with a 6-5 win away to Rainey Endowed.
A pair of penalties was enough for the Co Down school who will be thrilled to come through a testing away trip to reach the last eight.
They will now welcome Sullivan, often cited as a dark horse to lift the trophy, to Mount Crescent after the north Down derby at Bangor Grammar ended in a comfortable 25-0 win for Willie Anderson’s side.
There was late elation for Ballyclare High School on Saturday as they advanced to the next round at the expense of Ballymena Academy thanks to a last-gasp try and conversion.
The reward for their final-play heroics is a quarter-final trip to Coleraine Academical Institution.
The nine-time champions enjoyed a far more relaxed conclusion to their third round tie as they beat Regent House at home by a score of 41-0.
Campbell College versus Royal School Armagh looked set to be the most competitive of the weekend’s ties but in the end the 2011 winners ended up with a 28-3 victory.
They will welcome Wallace High to Fox’s Field who beat Belfast High by a converted score, winning 20-13.
The eight losing teams from the third round will fall into the Danske Bank Subsidiary Shield, with the draw for that competition also made on Saturday.
Limavady, heartened by their display against Methody, have been handed another tough away fixture and will this time travel to Royal School Armagh.
Bangor Grammar, after losing to one local rival on Saturday, will now meet another as they were drawn to make the short trip to Newtownards for a contest with Regent House.
In the other two fixtures, Ballymena Academy will play host to Belfast High School while Rainey Endowed will travel to face Dalriada School.
All ties in both the Schools’ Cup and Subsidiary Shield will be played on Saturday, February 22.