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Danske Bank Schools' Cup: Coleraine Grammar aiming to avenge narrow replay defeat

By Ronnie Ingram

Friends' School Lisburn won their Danske Bank Schools' Cup third round tie against Coleraine Grammar at the second attempt last season, so the Co Londonderry team are out for revenge this weekend.

The Castlerock Road side went on to lose their first round Trophy game, but Friends' advanced to the quarter-final stage of the Cup where they were unable to fulfil the fixture by the required date and had no alternative but to withdraw.

It has not been a great year for the Coleraine side with only seven wins in 17 fixtures, but they do have a number of talented players who are perfectly capable of swinging the tie in their favour.

Captain and back row forward Callum Beggs is usually in the thick of things, while his vice captain Max Bailie in the second row is key in the line-out and a strong ball carrier.

No.8 David Brown, who transferred from Limavady Grammar in September, gets the team going forward from the base of the scrum but has been dogged by injury.

Also in the pack is prop Oscar Egan who, along with Bailie, played last season and have been in the Ulster Under-18 squad.

They also have some speedy backs, with Ross Moore, Pierce Crowe and Andrew White the pick of the bunch.

Centre Moore runs hard lines and leads the defence with some big hits.

Out-half Crowe was in the squad last year and keeps improving. He is a skilful footballer, and his game management has been important in the team's successes.

The other centre, White, has been the most consistent performer this year.

He runs some excellent lines and is also formidable in defence.

Coach Richard Boyd knows it will be another tough encounter, just like last season when Friends' won the replay by three penalties to two.

"We have had injuries to some key players, but since their return we have grown in confidence," he said.

"We have competed against some of the top teams without having the results we would have wished for but take confidence from our recent games.

"We look forward to another battle against Friends' and are excited to play at home in front of a large crowd of supporters.

"Our team are looking forward to the encounter and hope that with the return of some key players we will have the edge."

The Lisburn team have also had a mixed season, but a recent tour to Portugal has assisted their preparations.

Ulster Schools' Ben McCaughey is one of their top try scorers, but other talented backs include Reece Malone and Stuart Patterson, while captain Ross Stewart gets the most out of his pack.

Coach Stephen Robinson feels his squad has plenty of potential this season.

"A number of last season's Medallion team are enjoying the challenge of senior rugby and will benefit from the experience," he commented.

"With wins over Dungannon Royal, Cambridge House, Belfast High, Grosvenor Grammar, Down High and Portadown College, we are hoping that these successes will transfer into a good Cup run, assuming we play to our best."

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