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Efficient use of possession was key to RBAI Schools' Cup success, says Dan Soper

By Jonathan Bradley

RBAI director of rugby Dan Soper hailed the character of his side after they survived a second-half onslaught to win consecutive Danske Bank Schools' Cup titles at Kingspan Stadium yesterday.

A last-play score from Ireland Schools' centre James Hume was the only try of the game, the late dramatics rounding off a 13-3 win that came after Campbell had spent virtually the entire half in Inst territory only to be repelled time and time again by heroic defending.

With numerous last ditch interventions required to preserve the win, Soper was thrilled with the resilience.

"That's been my biggest question mark over the team for a lot of the year," he said. "Whether they had the resilience and the character to come through a challenge like that.

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"But every time we've thrown something at them they've stepped up and they did that today.

"At the moment I'm just relieved. I'm still a bit blown away that we held on for as long as we did in the second-half.

"Jeepers, they threw everything at us and every time we got a wee break we then did our utmost to bring our own downfall.

"The boys just hung in there. We're delighted but relieved because that was a tense second-half."

Having not won back-to-back titles since 1948, Inst became the first side to win the Schools' Cup, Medallion Shield and both 2nd and 3rd XV Schools' Cups in the same season.

Also capturing consecutive Schools' Cups and Medallion Shields for the first time, Soper acknowledged it has been an historic campaign for his school.

"We will sit back and reflect on that as quite outstanding," he said. "We didn't really mention it to the players. All they wanted to do was win today, that's their moment, their chapter in history. Certainly that it was on the back of that successful a year makes it all the more special."

Captain Conor Field, who provided two of the numerous try-saving moments, was elated after the final whistle having missed last year's success through injury.

"The feeling is absolutely indescribable," he said.

"Fair play to Campbell. I said to the guys it was going to be an intense game and they are going to bring it to us. We didn't quite expect it to be all Campbell and I can't remember us having the ball for more than a minute but we just had to work hard, absorb the pressure, and we pulled out the result somehow."

Campbell head coach Brian Robinson praised Inst but admitted it was hard to stomach the defeat.

"I thought when you look at territory, we did well," said the former Irish international.

"Better than we expected to. That soft penalty just before half-time gave them something to hold onto. Our attack wasn't good enough to break down their defence. We just weren't as efficient as we needed to be.

"You have to be composed and technically a lot better. To have so many chances and not take them is a frustration that's hard to take."

Belfast Telegraph


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