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Ballyclare make sure of last 16 place with a bonus


United front: Coleraine Grammar ahead of their clash with Belfast High School which confirmed their place in the last 16 of the Schools cup.
United front: Coleraine Grammar ahead of their clash with Belfast High School which confirmed their place in the last 16 of the Schools cup.
Winner: Coleraine Grammar full-back Cameron Leighton

By Ronnie Ingram

Ballyclare High School had it all to do to book their place in the last 16 of the Danske Bank Schools' Cup and they did it in style.

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The east Antrim boys only required a victory at Lurgan College to qualify but by a bonus point 24-0 margin they won the Section.

Playing into a strong wind in the first period they were restricted to a seven points interval lead by a determined effort from the home side.

"Lurgan had the territorial advantage and attempted to use the wind without much success but were effective down the blindside," said Ballyclare coach Mike McKeever.

"Our full-back, Mark Jackson, eventually broke through from the 10-metre line and added the points but it was only after the restart that we put our act together."

Following a series of inter-play Jackson crossed in the left hand corner after seven minutes. Second row forward Harry McBride then took a hard line from scrum-half Matthew Spence and crashed over for a 17-point lead.

Still needing another try for the bonus, the best of the morning followed when Alex Darrah gained possession around halfway and weaved through the tiring opposition to go under the posts and then convert.

"We had to win this game so that made us focus on the task. I was especially pleased with our replacements who probably strengthened our efforts," added McKeever, who had a great day all-round as his Ballyclare club team also picked up their first win for three weeks.

"Man of the match was our captain and No 8 Jack Gamble who was a true role model and superb in the loose and in defence," added the coach

Ballyclare are joined in the last 16 by Friends' School, Bangor Grammar, Sullivan Upper, Coleraine Grammar and Enniskillen Royal, the other divisional winners, while Belfast Royal Academy, Down High, Cambridge House and Grosvenor Grammar were the best runners-up.

Top six seeds RBAI, Methodist College, Ballymena Academy, Wallace High, Campbell College and Armagh Royal complete the next round draw for the ties to be played in January.

Friends', Sullivan Upper and Enniskillen Royal finished the Schools' League/Cup competition with a maximum 15 points while Bangor and Coleraine had 14 and Ballyclare 11.

BRA were the best runners up with 11 while the other three qualifiers, along with Portadown College, ended up on 10.

Spare a thought for the Co Armagh team who lost out because they had the worst points difference.

Friends' had qualified for the final stage three weeks ago so maybe complacency was part of the reason for their slow start against Dromore High which ended with a 28-7 success.

An Adam Whitten try, goaled by Luke Allison, put the underdogs in front but Friends were level by the interval and Kyle Gormley (2), Stuart Patterson and Fergus McEwen crossed for tries, all converted by Reece Malone.

Portadown College coach Andrew Symington was disappointed for his players

"We came back from a 10-point deficit with 15 minutes remaining against Dungannon Royal to win 24-22, but it was all in vain," he said.

"Winger Ethan Williamson reduced the arrears with a try before second row forward Jay Lismore crossed in the corner.

"Victory depended on the touchline conversion but Adam Speers thought we had already won when he stroked the ball between the posts.

"We are now in the Bowl, a competition in which we have had some success in the recent past."

The results in the final series of games were, Division A: Dromore High 7 Friends' School 28, Limavady Grammar 5 Rainey Endowed 15

Division B: Down High 45 Regent House 3, Foyle College conceded to Bangor Grammar

Division C: Ballyclare High 24 Lurgan College 0, Omagh Academy 7 Cambridge House 0

Division D: Grosvenor Grammar 36 Dalriada 5, Strabane Grammar conceded to Sullivan Upper

Division E: Coleraine Grammar 33 Belfast High 20, BRA 48 Banbridge Academy 12

Division F: Larne Grammar 0 Enniskillen Royal 40, Portadown College 24 RS Dungannon 22

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