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BRA in the hunt for vital Cup progress: Creighton


Test: BRA’s David Creighton is relishing big game
Test: BRA’s David Creighton is relishing big game

By Michael Sadlier

The second and penultimate round of the Danske Bank Schools' Cup group stages takes place this weekend with a number of key games which could be pool deciders.

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In Group E, Belfast Royal Academy travel to face Coleraine Grammar with both sides locked together on five points and a great deal at stake for both combatants.

With four slots available from being a best runner-up to qualify for the Schools' Cup knockout stages - which take place in January when 10 teams from the groups, six of this total being the pool winners, progress to be drawn against the awaiting six top tiered schools - and bonus points at play too, there is plenty to focus minds this weekend.

BRA opened the newly-formatted competition last month with a bonus point victory at Belfast High School but now face another game away from their Roughfort base against a Coleraine Grammar side who ran up an even bigger win at Banbridge Academy.

BRA coach David Creighton is under no illusions that his squad face a formidable task tomorrow morning.

"It's going to be real test and Coleraine are a very good side," he said.

"It's always a difficult place to go and we know that we have to be at our very best.

"We're really looking forward to it, and we know in relation to the group that it's going to be very important this weekend," he added.

Despite a poor showing in last week's friendly with Bangor Grammar, Creighton is certain that BRA will be up for this one.

"We took a bad defeat last week but we've parked that now and training has been great this week," he said.

"We feel ready for it and I envisage this being incredibly tight between two evenly matched teams," Creighton stated.

Another big game from number eight and skipper Rob Sturgess will be important for BRA, along with more from centre Elliott Donaldson, though Creighton stresses that the visitors' hopes are based on collective effort from the team.

"We have to play for 70 minutes against Coleraine," he said.

"We cannot stop, and it could come down to anything to get into this next part of the Cup.

"The groups are tight, certainly the top two in the groups at the minute are, so seeing games through to the end is going to be very important, win or lose," he added of the need to collect bonus points whether from victory or defeat.

"There is no wriggle room for errors and a lot to play for."

With Brian McLaughlin's input, BRA will be well primed for this crunch meeting.

As for the new format, Creighton feels that it is having a positive impact.

"I think it's really good. The boys have responded well to it, as I think have the other schools," he said. "It's brought competitive games at this time of year and a different focus to our senior rugby programme.

"It's a new lease of life for schoolboy rugby and we're really pleased so far."

With practically all the groups having two sides on five points, there are some other pivotal-looking contests this weekend.

In Group B, Bangor Grammar host leaders Down High School, while Group C sees Ballyclare High at Cambridge House.

Sullivan Upper, who are favourites to win Group D, host Grosvenor Grammar in a Belfast derby, and Enniskillen Royal Grammar meet Royal School Dungannon for a huge clash in F.

Group A: Friends' School v Rainey Endowed, Limavady Grammar v Dromore High.

Group B: Bangor Grammar v Down HS, Regent House v Foyle College.

Group C: Cambridge House v Ballyclare HS, Lurgan College v Omagh Academy.

Group D: Sullivan Upper v Grosvenor GS, Dalriada School 40 Strabane Academy 12.

Group E: Coleraine Grammar v Belfast Royal Academy, Banbridge Academy v Belfast HS.

Group F: Enniskillen Royal GS v RS Dungannon, Portadown College v Larne GS

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