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RBAI coach admits he's relishing a tough Schools' Cup final battle

By Jonathan Bradley

RBAI coach Daniel Soper admits that, whoever emerges from tomorrow's last four clash between Methody and Wallace High, his side will face a tough task in the Danske Bank Schools' Cup final on St Patrick's Day.

Speaking after the 29-time winners beat Coleraine AI at the Kingspan Stadium yesterday afternoon, he said: "A lot of people argue that maybe Wallace and Methody should have been the final because they're probably the two best teams in the province this year but that's the way the draw works out.

"It doesn't matter which one we play in the final, it's going to be a tough match so we've no preference. We're just happy to be here at the minute. We'll come and have a look on Thursday and see how the two of them go."

While the 10-6 win was perhaps not the competition's most engrossing of games - the only try coming after Michael Lowry released Callum McLaughlin - Soper feels that, at this stage, it is only the final score that is of paramount importance.

"It's just about the result," he said. "I thought the guys in the first half tried to play and our handling let us down. That was probably a little bit to do with what the conditions were like.

"It wasn't a great spectacle. I said to Richie (fellow coach Richard Hedley) when we were going in at half-time that there was only going to be one score in this game and it was going to be a score out of nothing.

"As it turned out, it was a turnover and Michael made the break from our own half."

Despite the loss, Soper's Coleraine AI counterpart, Richard Beggs, was proud of his players.

"I can't fault our performance at all, I thought we were absolutely superb," he said.

"Semi-finals come down to small margins and unfortunately we were on the wrong side.

"Fair play to Belfast Inst they took their opportunities whenever they had them but I'm immensely proud of our boys."

Beggs backed his side's decision to go wide in their final attack. The pack had moved through the phases well before the play was spread to the left and Inst were able to drive the move into touch.

Beggs, though, felt his side were right to go for the score when they did.

"We always encourage the boys that if they see an opportunity, to go for it and if you want to get to a final then at some stage you are going to have to roll the dice and give it a go. It just didn't work out unfortunately," he concluded.

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