Friends' School 24-22 Ballyclare High School
Friends' had two energy-sapping Danske Bank Schools' Cup ties in five days but now face an even more formidable hurdle when they travel to fortress Osborne Park to play RBAI in the quarter-finals.
In yesterday's replay, Friends' were 24-3 in front at one stage before Ballyclare High School upped their efforts but were just pipped in the end.
Following a number of phases, Friends' opened up an early 14 point advantage with tries from No.8 Max Gillespie and centre Kyle Gormley for Reece Malone to goal both. Then Ballyclare's Mark Jackson traded penalties with Malone before the visitors were held up a couple of times over their opponent's line.
Nine minutes into the second period and, following a scrum, Fergus McEwen dashed in from the wing for the home team's third converted score and that's when the opposition started their fight back.
Three tries followed after forward dominance, with back row forward Robert Reid, front row forward Harry Beckington and Kyle Ferguson all touching down for Jackson to convert two.
Relieved Friends' coach Stephen Robinson said: "In the first 35 minutes we probably played our best rugby of the season but then we let in a couple of soft tries and that gave Ballyclare renewed confidence."
Visiting coach Mike Orchin-McKeever added: "We showed real character and commitment in defence with great leadership by captain Jack Gamble, while Adam Barron also had an excellent game."