Portadown C 3 Bangor GS 20
Bangor Grammar earned a home tie in round four of the Danske Bank Schools’ Cup by seeing off Portadown College at Killicomaine Road.
The reward for the Seasiders, who won the cup three times in four seasons in the 1980s, is a February 9 visit from the winners of Belfast High’s clash with Royal School Dungannon, the pair meeting on Wednesday.
Bangor coach David Graham admitted that he had always expected the trip to Co Armagh to be difficult.
“This was a potential banana skin for us,” he said.
“We thought we should win but we knew it would be a tough task away from home, particularly with the conditions being so trying.
“Now we can look forward to the next round.
“We have already beaten Dungannon away and drawn with Belfast High so it should be close,” he said.
Portadown counterpart Andrew Symington was gracious in defeat. “Bangor were the better side with big abrasive forwards gaining more possession, especially in the second half. That made all the difference,” he conceded.
“We failed to use our backs as much as we'd hoped, but we had a dogged defence and our young team will have learnt a lot.
“There were four fifth years on our team and I thought Jonathan Burns played exceptionally well, especially his strong tackling,” he concluded.
While even the most partisan Portadown follower would concede that Bangor deserved their win, they would argue — with some justification — that the 17-point victory margin flattered.
Most of the first half was played in the middle third of the pitch so the interval score was just 3-3, Cameron Strutt kicking a penalty for Bangor and Niall Davidson replying for the hosts.
But in the second period Bangor gained more possession with their formidable back row much in evidence as the game wore on.
Strutt landed a second penalty and, after their error-strewn first period, the guests finally began to control proceedings
Bangor stole the ball at a line-out and put Portadown under pressure before full-back Michael Weir evaded a couple of tackles and went over under the posts enabling Ross McCloskey to add the simple goal points, the latter having come on after Strutt went off with a knee injury.
Indeed McCloskey wasted no time in making his presence felt at out-half with his intelligent kicking and accurate passing an increasingly important feature as the game wore on.
But while Portadown found it difficult to get out of their own territory, nevertheless they were still in the match until the latter stages when Bangor finally pulled clear courtesy of a score in the dying minutes.
That came when the ball was kicked through for Bangor players to give chase and fall on it.
The touchdown was a close call between Max Montgomery and Mathew Stockton, with both players appearing to get hands to the ball for the try that put Bangor out of sight and into the next round.