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Schools' Cup: Jack Conlin's match-winning try took time to pay off

By Michael Sadlier

There were many key moments which helped define this win for Royal Belfast Academical Institution but the one which clearly stood out was Jack Conlin's mazy run which took him under the Wallace posts just short of the hour mark.

The winger had hit the line on an angled run off an inside pass from scrum-half TJ Morris and had proceeded to bamboozle the Wallace defence for what ultimately proved to be the crucial score in Inst's victory.

Not only that, but he had run in to dot the ball down under the posts which enabled Morris to land his second conversion of the day to put the Belfast side 14-10 in front which, of course, is how it ended.

And afterwards, Conlin revealed that it had been a planned move which had largely failed to deliver up until that particular moment.

It proved to be great timing for the plan to click, though the winger also revealed that his team-mates' somewhat exuberant celebration had, well, been a bit much for him after his solo run.

"I actually got jumped on by all of the boys and I'm in agony, not because of the match but because of that," Conlin said with a rather broad smile.

"We've actually been trying it on the park and it hasn't really been working and I suppose it was quite funny that it worked the one time we needed it to."

Inst's other try scorer happened to be their skipper Lewis McNamara - who got over in the first half - and he was still dealing with the huge emotional rush that lifting the famous trophy had brought him.

"It's absolutely amazing, I'm speechless - it's a dream come true," he said.

"We showed great character and we've shown it all year.

"I think we earned that and I think we deserved it as well for all the hard work we've done throughout the season."

McNamara also praised Morris for recovering from two early penalty misses - one pretty much right in front of the posts - to nail the two ultimately crucial conversions.

"Yes, TJ showed great composure to slot those kicks," the skipper added.

For director of rugby Daniel Soper, it was a huge personal achievement as well as being another important victory for the Belfast school who last got their hands on the trophy back in 2007 when Wallace were also their victims.

"I've been in this competition for quite some time," said Soper, referring to his time serving at Ballyclare High School which saw them lose to Methody in 2012.

"And that's the first time that I've touched the trophy so there is a certain amount of satisfaction for myself personally and certainly I know for the school - it's huge.

"Up until now, this year had been the first year that there had been no pupils at Inst from the time when the cup had previously been won.

"So that's pretty significant as it's not that often that that has been the case so hopefully it's the start of a few more," said the Kiwi who also heaped praise on fellow coach Richard Hedley.

"I'm very relieved," he admitted, "and I guess that was a good finish for the neutral.

"We got a lot of things right that we had planned and we did our homework and there were a lot of things that we were very pleased with.

"And credit to the boys, they hung in there and had great belief about them," he said referring to their defensive work in keeping Wallace at bay.

"We knew that Wallace were capable of scoring tries like they did but it turned out that we were fortunate that their scores were wide out (and were not converted) as it meant they had to chase a try (to win) in that last five minutes."

Belfast Telegraph

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