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Limavady win in a close call

Belfast High School 16 Limavady GS 20

By Michael Sadlier

Limavady Grammar School's reward for their hard-fought victory at Belfast High School is to host last year's semi-finalists Dalriada in the third round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools' Cup on January 21.

It's certainly a formidable-looking challenge for Limavady - their opponents will arrive in the North West off the back of a 48-3 hammering of Larne Grammar - who would have undoubtedly preferred a more benign draw, but coach Chris Nash and his assistants will still go into their next game encouraged by their performance on the Shore Road.

Elsewhere, Banbridge Academy and Dromore High School will replay on Wednesday after the sides ended locked together at 8-8 in what was Dromore's first appearance in the competition.

Home advantage now goes to Dromore for the replay and the winner will then be at home to Enniskillen Royal Grammar School.

Friends' School Lisburn saw off Antrim Grammar School easily enough and host Coleraine Grammar School.

Portadown College - who hosted and defeated Wellington College 20-0 - will entertain Belfast Royal Academy while Regent House travel to Rainey in the wake of defeating Foyle College and Lurgan College's easy win over Strabane Academy sees them entertain Ballyclare High School.

The remainder of the draw pits Grosvenor Grammar against Bangor Grammar while the two Royal Schools - Dungannon and Armagh - meet in Tyrone.

In a game which could have gone either way, Limavady - with centre Jim McCartney kicking 10 points in an unblemished performance off the tee - prevailed thanks to having the edge in composure and accuracy to take points when they were on offer with No.8 David Brown making an impact.

It was a harsh enough result, though, on Belfast High who battled away as they came back from trailing 7-5 at half-time to briefly lead after a marvellously crafted try scored right at the start of the second half from their out-half and skipper Simon White.

However, turning down a number of kickable penalties, and conceding an early intercept score to Limavady out-half Jamie Young, were key moments.

"The guys played really well," said a delighted Limavady coach Chris Nash.

"High School put us under a lot of pressure so I'm absolutely delighted for the boys.

"Jim McCartney had a great game and when it came down to it he did the job for us," added Nash.

High School coach Mickey Rainey was philosophical after the narrow defeat.

"We fought back and we have a fair amount of possession and territory but we turned two penalties down and the boys wanted to go for the tries so fair enough," he said.

"Fair play to Limavady but it could have gone either way in the end."

Limavady were 7-0 up after just 11 minutes when Young latched on to a loose High School pass with McCartney making the conversion.

It took a while for High School to regather themselves - White missed a 22nd minute penalty - but they came back when lock Sam McBride got over in the corner.

White failed with the difficult conversion and the half ended with Limavady leading 7-5.

High School began the second half with an excellent regather of their own restart by number eight Ryan Gibson and shortly afterwards Carl Mullet's off-load put White through to score and, though he missed the conversion, the home side now led 10-7.

But the visitors then hit back with Brown powering over from close-in and McCartney adding the extras with the centre then kicking a penalty to put Limavady seven in front.

High School then ran a kickable penalty and got no return before White narrowed the lead with two penalties to cut Limavady's lead to one point.

That was as good as it got though as McCartney kicked his second penalty and the game ended with High School bottled up in their own half.

Results: Banbridge 8 Dromore 8 (replay Wednes), Friends 57 Antrim 7, Portadown 20 Wellington 0, Larne 3 Dalriada 48, Belfast HS 16 Limavady 20, Foyle 10 Regent 19, Lurgan 39 Strabane 0

Round 3: Rainey v Regent, Banbridge/Dromore v Enniskillen, Limavady v Dalriada, Grosvenor v Bangor, Lurgan v Ballyclare, Portadown v BRA, Dungannon v Armagh, Friends v Coleraine. Round 3 games to be played on Saturday Jan 21.

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