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Queen's show their class to end Instonian's perfect record

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On the charge: Inst’s Patrick Bell puts Queen’s II under pressure

On the charge: Inst’s Patrick Bell puts Queen’s II under pressure

On the charge: Inst’s Patrick Bell puts Queen’s II under pressure

It was a memorable weekend for Queen's II, who advanced to the semi-finals of the McCrea Cup after handing Instonians their first loss of the season at Shaw's Bridge on Saturday.

Top of Kukri Qualifying One, and having already secured the Junior Cup back in December, the hosts entered the game as firm favourites but it was the students who advanced despite trailing 6-0 in the early stages and twice being reduced to 14 men thanks to yellow cards.

Speaking after the win, Queen's captain Andrew Kerr, who scored the only try of the game in the closing seconds, said: "They were unbeaten coming in so we knew we had to be wary of them and we knew we were going to have to put in a good performance.

"Thankfully we did that and we were able to put them away at the end.

"It doesn't help whenever you go down to 14 men for 20 minutes but the boys all believed and hung in there."

Just one win away from a run out at the Kingspan Stadium on April 8, Kerr was refusing to entertain thoughts of a showpiece final and concluded: "We have to focus on the semi-final first but it would be lovely to get there."

With their league campaign clearly the focus, Instonians head coach Wilbur Leacock took the opportunity to rest some frontline players, but the south Belfast men still managed to take an early lead.

There were only three minutes on the clock when out-half Fraser Wright slotted over a penalty awarded when Queen's strayed offside.

In the 10th minute, Wright doubled the lead with another penalty and matters worsened for the visitors straight from the restart.

Lock Matthew Doak needlessly took out an opponent in the air and the referee immediately flashed a yellow card.

However, Queen's remained resolute and although Instonians threatened, most notably through a break led by Michael Melville, the visitors would hold out despite their numerical disadvantage.

Inst lost centre Robbie Martin to injury, with lock Sebastiano Folla taking his place and prompting a reshuffle in the back-line, and Queen's halved the deficit on the half hour mark.

Robbie Reid missed an initial kick at goal after Instonians were pinged for not rolling away but, when the restart went out on the full and the hosts collapsed the resulting scrum, the out-half made no mistake with his second attempt.

Queen's were close to taking the lead shortly after when the bounce of a booming kick evaded Folla and locks Matthew Doak and Cathal Hannon almost combined for a try but Instonians got back.

A penalty at the breakdown allowed Reid to level the scores at 6-6 just before the break, although the No 10 was shown a yellow card moments later.

Wright, however, missed the resulting penalty to ensure that the game would be tied at half time.

The first chance of the second half went to Queen's but, with Reid still in the bin, kicking duties were handed to John Russell and his attempt off the tee was never threatening the posts.

When Reid did return, strong work from Connor McIlmurray at the scrum earned another penalty and the three points gave Queen's their first lead of the day.

In the final quarter, a high tackle from Ben Scott brought another penalty and Reid doubled the lead.

The out-half had a couple of opportunities to make it a two-score game but could not connect, while it was then Instonians' turn to play with 14 men when Paddy Marks was shown a yellow card.

With five minutes remaining, Reid did extend the advantage to nine after another scrum penalty.

Despite their dominance up front becoming more pronounced, Queen's were still attempting to play some expansive rugby in the back division and, when the game's only try arrived in the final moments, it was just reward.

Winger Andrew Butler embarked on another strong run and some clever interplay advanced the ball.

The chance looked to have gone when a pass didn't go to hand but captain Kerr scooped up the loose ball to cross underneath the posts.

Reid's chipped conversion rounded off the scoring and Queen's, along with Academy, Malone II and Cooke, can look forward to the semi-finals.

Belfast Telegraph