Wright on cue for Down
Published 27/01/2014 | 01:31
Down HS 30 Lurgan College 0: Down High produced an assured performance in terrible conditions to advance to the third round of the Danske Bank Schools' Cup at the expense of Lurgan College on Saturday morning.
A mid-morning deluge ensured it was not a day to be a substitute or a spectator at Mount Crescent and it was the Downpatrick school who best adapted to the adverse weather with the kicking game of inside centre Patrick Wright proving particularly impressive.
Tries from Ryan Smith and Thomas Johnston had put the home side in a commanding lead before late scores from Nathan Gibson and Joseph Bingham added gloss.
They will now play the winner of the postponed tie between Rainey Endowed and Belfast Royal Academy in the last 16.
The school's Head of Rugby, Charlie Knox, was pleased with the performance and feels that his side can be a match for anyone in this competition.
He reflected: "We're very pleased with how we played, especially in that rain which didn't make it easy to play any rugby.
"We're a side that's maturing a lot and I think you could see that with how we played the conditions out there.
"We kicked at the right times and into the space well, and Patrick (Wright) who is a good kicker at the best of times, had a good game when it could have been difficult.
"We would obviously prefer a home draw but there are a lot of teams we feel are at a very similar level to ourselves.
"We'll not fear anyone in this competition, even the top eight, and playing with the underdog tag is something that suits us."
Despite the defeat, Lurgan College coach Geoff Caldwell remained proud of his side, who certainly added to the spectacle throughout despite not registering a point.
He said:"The score didn't really reflect the game after we gave them seven points in the first half and then a few late ones.
"We competed up front the whole way through and I feel sorry for the guys that it got away from them in the end but I couldn't ask any more from them against a good, good side.
"We have five or six fifth formers in our side and this will be great experience for them coming through.
"We're into the Bowl now so we have to take one game at a time and edge forward. We haven't talked about it before today but we'll be targeting two wins in that competition and we've shown today that we have the talent to do that."
The first quarter was an evenly matched affair, albeit with Down High enjoying more possession, with the only difference provided by a pair of confidently dispatched penalties from Wright despite the strong and swirling winds.
The key moment of the game would come in the 22nd minute when Down High's half-back pairing of Christopher Gibson and Niall Gregg combined to release Ryan Smith with the right wing rounding the corner and dotting down beneath the posts.
Again, Wright was accurate off the tee and the hosts would maintain that 13-point lead until the interval despite one strong break.
The Down High pack operated as a highly effective unit, ably led by Thomas Donnan despite the No 8 suffering with illness on the morning of the game, and there was reward for their efforts soon after the turn when they marched a rolling maul over the line to allow Thomas Johnston to touch down.
Johnston's fellow prop Nathan Gibson repeated the feat with a try of his own after a barnstorming run and the extras took the score to 25-0.
Late on, Down High added the final points of the day when Ian McCormick passed to Josh Bingham, who broke away to cross.