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Schools' Cup: Show of strength gives RBAI final say

RBAI 20 Coleraine AI 8: The superior all-round strength of RBAI proved too much for Coleraine Inst as the Belfast boys secured a place in the Schools’ Cup final.

With a number of representative players in their line-up and with much bigger and stronger forwards, Belfast Inst got on top early on and never let go.

The 20-8 victory — which doesn’t really do Coleraine’s gutsy performance justice — sees RBAI reach the final for the 53rd time and they will now be aiming to emulate the class of 2007, who were the last time to take the cup back to the Belfast school, when they face the winners of the second semi-final between Ballyclare High and Campbell College in the St Patrick’s Day decider.

The Inst forwards prevented Coleraine from gaining enough possession for their wings to show their pace and the Belfast boys monopolised the possession for the first 15 minutes.

Coleraine did well to restrict them to just a single try during that time. Flanker Paddy Bell made the break before linking with Matthew Madill, who crossed the line to score.

They appeared to ease up after that, but then good forward work led to Matthew McGuigan being in the right place to drop a goal

McGuigan then missed a couple of difficult penalties attempts which allowed Coleraine to reduce the arrears with an Alan Clarke penalty.

Without the services of the injured Michael Poskitt Coleraine’s three-quarters had failed to make any kind of impact on the game.

Coleraine started to play their best rugby late in the first-half and Stuart McCaffrey, playing in the unfamiliar out-half position, performed adequately and set up many back movements.

A try at that stage would have brought them back into contention, but a couple of runs from Josh Murdock and David McIntyre led to nothing.

McGuigan missed a long penalty two minutes into the second period, but five minutes later prop Andrew Brown set up right wing Nathan Brown to go in.

Despite stretching their lead Inst were a bit unsettled and their play was littered with too many mistakes.

That prompted a change in the pack, with Ross Keane and Danny Clegg being brought into the action and the alterations certainly seemed to make a difference.

Madill showed his skills for out-half Gareth Lawlor to add Inst’s fourth try, but dogged Coleraine were not finished yet.

The unseeded side threw everything into attack and were duly rewarded with a late try.

Paddy Farrell linked with McCaffrey who left out the two centres for winger Clarke to gather and go in at the corner, but they couldn’t sustain their response and Inst held on for victory.

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