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Academy are on the march

BRA 31 - Grosvenor GS 14

By Jonathan Bradley

With the top-seeded teams entering at the third round stage, the Danske Bank Schools' Cup favourites were largely kept apart in Saturday's draw.

There will, however, be a pair of games featuring two of the top eight when the competition resumes in the first weekend of February with Ballymena Academy meeting last season's beaten finalists Wallace and champions RBAI hosting Coleraine Grammar in what will be a first Schools' Cup tie for the north coast side since a merger last year.

Much-fancied Campbell College will travel to Friends while the competition's most successful side, Methodist College, host Rainey Endowed.

Four of this weekend's round two winners were rewarded with last-16 ties against unseeded opposition.

Dalriada, who beat Omagh Academy, will host Foyle College after the Londonderry school overcame Antrim Grammar, while Ballyclare High's reward for a late win over Royal School Dungannon is a visit from Bangor Grammar, themselves winners over Limavady Grammar, in the third round.

Regent House, the narrowest of Saturday's winners following a 14-13 triumph over Portora, will face 2014 finalists Sullivan and the last of the seeds, Down High School, take on Belfast Royal Academy at home.

The north Belfast outfit earned the trip to Mount Crescent with a 31-14 win over Grosvenor Grammar at Roughfort.

Grosvenor had taken the lead early through a well-worked backline move that was finished off, and then converted, by full-back Daniel Martin.

With Michael Wilson becoming increasingly prominent for the hosts, however, much of the remainder of the half was played in Grosvenor's '22' thanks to an exemplary display of tactical kicking.

Wilson kicked a trio of penalties to give his side a 9-7 lead after a quarter of an hour had elapsed - and Grosvenor would not find themselves ahead again for the remainder of the contest.

BRA produced two quickfire tries in the corner, one from Jack Burton and the other by Francis Collins, with one conversion from Wilson nudging the scoreboard to 21-7 as the half-time whistle sounded.

The game was soon killed as a contest with a second converted score from Burton arriving just after the interval.

Not to be discouraged, however, Grosvenor stuck to their task well and notched a fine consolation through Jack Mahon late on that was converted by Adam Skelton.

A final penalty from Wilson rounded out BRA's scoring for a final score of 31-14.

Grosvenor coach Andy Gibson admitted that he could have no complaints about the result.

"The game was won from their great tactical kicking and their greater physicality and aggression, particularly at the breakdown," he said afterwards.

"We couldn't get any phase play going to put them under pressure.

"They kicked fantastically throughout and they controlled the game brilliantly.

"We really struggled to get out of that corner and any time we tried to exit they put us right back down there again and put a lot of pressure on us.

"We're in the Bowl now and we're away to Portadown College.

"I think we were beaten by the better team on the day and we can have no complaints about the result.

"It was still disappointing nonetheless as we've had such a good season.

"Since we played them earlier in the season they've moved on a level. We've moved on too but not as far.

"They'll be a handful for anybody in the competition if they continue to play like that."

BRA head coach David Creighton was thrilled with the way his side remained calm despite facing an early deficit.

"The game didn't start too well for us obviously with going down early on but we managed to keep our composure well," he commented.

"A couple of penalties to just bring it back to 7-6 settled us down a bit and we were able to take it from there and press ahead.

"It's always so important to keep that scoreboard ticking over and edging over; thankfully we were able to do that and then we scored tries at the right times.

"We're really pleased with how we played and the final result because we know that Grosvenor Grammar are a good side.

"The boys took a while to build but our preparation was good and it'll have to be good again when we're going to Downpatrick in the next round.

"They're one of the top seeds in the competition and they've certainly got a good team.

"We'll look at them now over the next few weeks and just make sure we're prepared as best we can."

Third round draw

Regent House v Sullivan Upper

Ballyclare HS v Bangor GS

Foyle College v Dalriada

Friends' School v Campbell College

Down HS v BRA

Ballymena Academy v Wallace HS

Methodist College v Rainey Endowed

RBAI v Coleraine GS

The fixtures will be played on Saturday, February 6

Belfast Telegraph


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