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Kerr dazzles as Methody set up Schools Cup final with hot rivals Inst

Methodist College 37 - Belfast Royal Academy 21

By Jonathan Bradley

The Danske Bank Schools' Cup final will again boast the province's fiercest rivalry after Methody overcame Belfast Royal Academy at Kingspan Stadium yesterday afternoon.

With back-to-back winners RBAI having already booked their place in the decider in Monday's first semi, we had the tantalising prospect of the competition's two most successful sides meeting in the St Patrick's Day showpiece and Methody kept up their end of the bargain, running in six tries, including a hat-trick for centre Paul Kerr.

Both sides made frequent visits to the opposition 22 but Methody, much like Inst the day before, displayed a far greater clinical edge after getting off to a dream start.

From an early scrum, Methody worked an opening for James McConnell to break the line before putting midfield partner Kerr over in the corner despite the attempted tackle of BRA captain Conor McAuley.

Kerr's conversion of his own score drifted beyond the far upright.

The BRA forwards were up for the battle though, with pressure from the pack forcing Methody into conceding a penalty that McAuley duly knocked over.

The 62-time finalists would score next though, Kerr again crossing the whitewash after more good work from out-half Thomas Armstrong.

This time he had no problem adding the extras and the same man struck a penalty on the 20-minute mark.

McAuley added another penalty but with Methody so clinical, three-pointers were never going to be enough.

And before the interval, Nicky Wells' side grabbed a third, and a third produced from a set move off a scrum, this time Johnny Jordan putting McConnell through.

With BRA still going for the posts, perhaps thinking the elements would be in their favour after the turn, another period of pressure for the underdogs ended in a McAuley penalty for the last score before half-time.

The first score after the break seemed crucial and it went to MCB when Thomas Gallagher scampered up the touchline and offloaded well out of the tackle to give Jordan a clean run through.

Gallagher would soon be in the bin though as BRA piled on the pressure close to the line.

After several phases, and being held up over the line, lock Bradley Luney eventually muscled his way over.

Back to a full complement, Methody had a gilt-edged chance to make the game safe with 10 minutes remaining but a handling error in the corner let BRA off the hook.

It would only be a short reprieve, however, as a bouncing ball in behind caused havoc in their back-line with Gallagher the beneficiary when his outstretched hand applied the scoring touch.

The coup de grace came in the final three minutes as Kerr completed a fine hat-trick.

While it was hardly fitting that his conversion missed, the try was a fine way to round off the day for the impressive centre.

BRA did answer back, even if it had little bearing on the outcome, but it was deserved for Matthew Dalton, who had been superb in the defeat.

McAuley converted with the last act of the game but it had long been decided that it would be Methody and captain Matty Loane facing their old enemies Inst on St Patrick's Day.

MCB: C Scollan; K Doherty. J McConnell, P Kerr, C Larmour; T Armstrong, J Jordan; A Cairns, J Trainor, B Crangle; H Gibbons. J Bingham; C Kelly, M Loane (capt), T Gallagher. Replacements: C Conn, D Moreli, C Fletcher, K McNaboe, C Kelly, M Neill, E McIlroy.

BRA: B Hassan, A Sabri, L Davidson, S Osborne, A Kane; J Burton, C McAuley (capt); K Scott, T Stewart, Nikki Ryan; C McCracken, B Luney; M Dalton, M Borne, T Gilpin. Replacements: J Lavery, O Minford, D Adams, A Keed, A Lyons, J Stubbs, D Logan.

 

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