Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby Schools Cup

Down High now aiming to humble classy Sullivan and create even more history

By Jonathan Bradley

Despite the huge clash between RBAI and Methody dominating the build-up to this weekend's Schools' Cup quarter-finals, there are three other intriguing ties taking place around the country on Saturday morning.

Down High have made the last eight of the competition for the first time in the school's history and will host Sullivan Upper.

The Downpatrick school have advanced to this stage thanks to a pair of wins over Lurgan College and Rainey Endowed with their influential number eight Thomas Donnan – younger brother of Ulster Academy lock John Donnan – proving particularly impressive so far.

Patrick Wright has shown an ability to punish any ill-discipline from his opponents and Sullivan will be wary of gifting him shots at goal.

The Holywood school will still expect to come out on top, however, with the majority of their hugely talented starting line-up having played representative rugby at some stage this season.

They comfortably saw off Bangor Grammar in the third round and the leadership provided by captain Ross Todd could again prove crucial.

Campbell College, knowing that one of their two fierce Belfast rivals won't make the semi-finals, will be hoping for an extended run in this season's competition and welcome Wallace High to Fox's Field.

Wing Jack Owens continues to be the danger man for the east Belfast school and his impressive form has already been rewarded this year with a start for the Ireland under-19s.

Wallace overcame Belfast High School in the last round, winning by a converted score in Newtownabbey, with Ulster under-18 full-back Jacob Stockdale crossing for a crucial second-half try.

Stockdale will once again be Wallace's main threat while Ben Pentland and Max Trouton have also been involved with the Ulster Schools' under-18 side this season.

Coleraine Inst defeated Ballyclare High 21-0 before Christmas but they will find the visitors much stronger when they meet in the Danske Bank Schools' Cup quarter-finals at Ballycairn Road on Saturday (10.30am).

"It was a turning point for us and we will be fielding a different team this time," said Ballyclare coach Mike McKeever.

Ballyclare made the quarters after a very late conversion got them a 10-9 win over Ballymena Academy but Coleraine have had an easier journey to this stage. They recorded a 15-10 win at Banbridge Academy before eliminating Regent House 41-0.

They have a talented midfield including Callum Smith and Mark Gordon but their match winner could be Conor Shiels who brings creativity and is an outstanding captain and place kicker. In the pack Thomas Pethick, Joel Stanbridge, Daniel McAllister and Ollie McDowell should be much in evidence.

Coach Richard Beggs is quietly confident but realises how formidable the opposition will be. "They are a well balanced outfit and three of their players have Ravenhill final experience," he said.

--

Down High qualified to meet Ballymena Academy in the Danske Bank Medallion Shield semi-final following their 15-12 victory over Methodist College in the quarter-final replay.

A try from left winger Andrew McCullough converted by Patrick Brown put Down High ahead but Methody had the better of the second quarter and secured a 12-7 interval lead.

The second half belonged to Down High who levelled just after the restart with an excellent Zac Ward try out on the left. They then clinched the win with a penalty.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph