Kirkpatrick brace helps Sullivan get over the line
Belfast Royal Academy 19 Sullivan Upper 25
The reward for overcoming Belfast Royal Academy at a bitterly cold Roughfort has given Sullivan Upper a home tie with Down High School in the fourth round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools' Cup.
The Holywood school just had too much power and guile for BRA in one of the few games to have gone ahead last Saturday, though kick-off was delayed for around half an hour while part of the pitch was cleared of lingering snow.
Consequently, the fourth round draw has a rather incomplete look to it with just three other games being played. Down High dismissed Lurgan College to earn the right to play Sullivan, while Royal School Dungannon, who beat Grosvenor, will host newly arrived Wallace High School and Dalriada's win at Dromore now sees them go to Campbell College, for whom this will be their first outing.
The winner of Omagh Academy's re-arranged game with Bangor Grammar will host the side who comes out on top between Rainey Endowed and Portadown College.
The team who prevails between Cambridge House and Regent House will go on to welcome Armagh Royal School while, again, the winner of the re-scheduled clash between Coleraine Grammar and Friends' School Lisburn will play at home to last year's beaten finalists Methodist College Belfast, who now enter the fray.
Elsewhere, the draw brings together four more sides getting their first taste of cup rugby this year as holders Royal Belfast Academical Institution host Ballyclare High School while Ballymena Academy head to Enniskillen Royal Grammar School.
At Roughfort, two tries from hard-running full-back Rory Kirkpatrick and a crucial score from the last play of the opening half from impressive flanker Oliver Faith, along with 10 points from the boot of scrum-half Conor McKee proved enough though the hosts - who led 11-6 after 20 minutes - admirably came back into the contest with winger Aaron Heatley getting his second touchdown towards the end.
"We showed great character to come back just before half-time," said Sullivan head coach Adam Craig. "And we showed that we had the potential to deal with them up front and go at them there as well.
"I think there were some nerves at the change in kick-off time and we didn't start the way we wanted but we demonstrated that there is potential there if we can get ourselves right from the start," he added.
"It's tough on the boys," said BRA head coach David Creighton who, along with coaching consultant Brian McLaughlin, had watched his side lose their early control of the game.
"We started off really well and sometimes things go for you and sometimes they don't.
"The boys, though, showed real character and heart to come back and we're really proud of them," added Creighton whose side go on to host Lurgan College in the Schools' Bowl quarter-finals.
It was a full-on contest from the off and after Warke's early penalty had been matched by McKee, BRA worked Heatley over in the left corner with Warke missing the difficult extras.
McKee then slotted a 17th-minute penalty before Warke's second success put BRA 11-6 in front.
Even though McKee was wide with a 30th-minute penalty, the half still ended with Sullivan scoring through Faith.
The try was converted by McKee but Sullivan's 13-11 half-time lead quickly became 18-11 when Kirkpatrick charged over though McKee missed the two points.
Warke kicked a penalty to cut Sullivan's lead to 18-14, and they came agonisingly close to working centre Rory Linden over, but the result was sealed with Kirkpatrick's second which, again, McKee converted.
To BRA's credit, they could have folded at 25-14 but finished strongly with Heatley getting in again at the corner, though Warke couldn't convert.