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Red-hot Inst delight Soper

R.B.A.I. 54 Ballyclare HS 0

By Michael Sadlier

It's hardly what both old rivals would have been wanting after gaining predictable access to the Danske Bank Ulster Schools' Cup quarter-finals, but holders Royal Belfast Academical Institution will now be facing off with Campbell College on February 18.

The most eye-catching outcome of the draw for the last eight means that Fox's Field will be the scene for a re-run of last year's final as cup favourites Inst bid to take the next step towards clinching the trophy for the third time in succession.

And Dan Soper's powerful squad will be preparing for what should be an epic battle with Campbell off the back of an eight-try pummelling of Ballyclare High School, who were swatted aside 54-0 at Osborne Park on Saturday morning as the champions made a clear statement of intent in their first game of this year's competition.

Campbell, also getting their initial taste of this season's cup in round four, have at least earned themselves a second home game after defeating Sullivan 29-5.

The other last-eight ties will see Friends' School hosting Belfast Royal Academy with the Lisburn squad having beaten Grosvenor 30-0 while the Academy put Rainey to the sword by 44-7.

Methodist College will be on the road again following their 15-8 victory at Down High to Royal School Armagh, who won 24-5 at Enniskillen Royal.

The other quarter-final will be between Wallace High School - who were 44-14 winners over Omagh Academy - and Ballymena Academy, who were victorious at Dalriada by 38-24.

An Inst victory had always looked the most likely outcome from Saturday's fourth-round meeting, but Ballyclare made life considerably easier for the tournament favourites by gifting them two early tries which saw the champions lead 14-0 after just five minutes.

And with players of the quality of scrum-half Rhys O'Donnell, centre James Hume and out-half Michael Lowry in the Inst backline, having an early presence on the scoreboard was always going to ensure that the home team were likely to run up a big score.

Hume ended the game with 17 points from a try and six conversions while Lowry scored two tries and O'Donnell one.

Though Ballyclare did apply pressure - full-back Aaron Coleman and prop Jack Black were their spearheads - they just couldn't match much in the way of accuracy to their clear ambition.

For Soper, though, it was a job well done as Inst begin to crank up their game for the quarter-finals.

"We had a couple of half chances in the first five minutes and we took them both," said the Kiwi, who formerly coached Ballyclare.

"I thought we started excellently and that put doubt in their minds.

"The efficiency in which we exited from deep in our territory was also excellent and we forced them to try and score from a long way out," added Soper, who also gave credit to the impact of his bench.

Ballyclare Director of Rugby Mike Orchin-McKeever praised his squad's efforts but had to admit that Inst were just too strong and clinical.

"I'm hugely proud of the boys," said the former Schools' Cup winner when a pupil at Inst.

"What we prepared for was what we got but knowing about it is one thing, being able to stop it is another.

"Credit to them (Inst), they were ruthless."

Inst led 28-0 at half-time with their early tries from Lowry and winger Niall Armstrong being added to by touchdowns from winger Zak Davidson and O'Donnell, all converted by Hume.

Ballyclare did then come back into the game but just couldn't find a way to get points and after Hume scored off turnover ball, converting his own effort, Inst dominated the remainder.

Lowry bagged his brace after Inst countered from a long kick and, yet again, Hume added the extras.

Full-back Joseph Finnegan then converted replacement Connor McCormick's score but was wide with the late try from sub Angus Adair.

Round 4 results: Friends' 30 Grosvenor 0, Dalriada 24 Ballymena Academy 38, Down High 8 MCB 15, BRA 44 Rainey 7, Wallace 44 Omagh Academy 14, Campbell 29 Sullivan 5, RBAI 54 Ballyclare 0, Enniskillen Royal 5 RS Armagh 24.

Quarter-finals: Campbell v RBAI, Friends' v BRA, RS Armagh v MCB, Wallace v Ballymena Academy.

Games to be played on Saturday, February 18.

Belfast Telegraph

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