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Grosvenor in power surge

Grosvenor GS 37 Antrim GS 7

By Michael Sadlier

As entrances go, this one fairly caught the attention as Grosvenor Grammar ran in seven tries to comfortably see off Antrim Grammar's challenge in round two of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools' Cup.

Indeed hooker Isaac Skillen - who ended up playing most of the game at flanker after skipper Ben Davies's early hamstring injury - grabbed a hat-trick of tries in what was a highly industrious performance while Matthew Logan, Nathan Chan, Jos McConkey and James Lusty also crossed the Antrim line.

Three of Grosvenor's scores came in the second half which began with the Belfast school already leading 22-0 and their thumping win was all the more creditable after losing Davies and then being reduced to 14 in the second half following Ewan Renfrew's yellow card.

Though Antrim were severely out-gunned, to their credit they kept battling and were rewarded with a consolation try right at the end as they now head to Limavady for their Trophy quarter-final.

The luck of the draw means that Grosvenor are again at home on January 20 when Dungannon Royal School enter the competition for their first game.

Elsewhere, Lurgan College's victory at Larne gives them a home game against Down High School.

Cambridge House host Regent in round three while Dromore High School are also at home against Dalriada.

Rainey Endowed entertain Portadown College after both sides had big wins against Belfast High School and Limavady Grammar respectively.

The pick of round three looks to be Belfast Royal Academy, last year's semi-finalists, at home to Sullivan Upper while other games featuring sides playing their first games of this year's competition see Bangor Grammar travelling to Omagh Academy while Friends' School Lisburn are on the road at Coleraine Grammar.

Regarding Grosvenor's home draw with Dungannon, the Belfast school's head coach Andrew Gibson was relatively pleased with the outcome for round three.

"It's a tough draw," he said. "But we're at home again and we did avoid some of the stronger sides.

"We played Dungannon at the start of the season and lost by nine points so it looks like it will be a hard-fought battle."

Turning his attention to the big win over Antrim, Gibson praised his players for hitting the ground running and keeping up the pressure.

Gibson commented: "We had a super start and we talked about intensity and that was our key word from the off."

While praising Skillen for his three tries, Gibson emphasised the team's efforts in achieving the result.

"If you look at Isaac's scores, two of them were from the back of mauls and it was good team-work from the kicks to the corner to get you there to then the work of the forwards in going over the line," he said.

Indeed it was the hard-working Skillen's huge first half tackle on Cameron McKelvey, in a rare moment of Antrim pressure in the opening half, which provided a huge statement of Grosvenor's intent and their defensive work early in the second half also kept the visitors firmly at bay.

"We defended really well when they were on our line for around 10 minutes and we only conceded our try in the last play," Gibson said.

Antrim head coach Robin McKenna also praised his players for sticking to the task despite conceding the seven tries and, in truth, they should have managed more than one touchdown of their own.

"We're very proud that the boys kept their heads up and worked right to the final whistle when we got our try," he said.

"It's a pity that earlier in the game things didn't go for us, but Grosvenor played excellently."

Early tries for Logan, which saw McConkey make his only successful conversion on a blustery and bitterly cold morning, and Skillen put Grosvenor 12-0 up after only 14 minutes.

That became 17-0 just before half an hour when Chan ran in at the right corner.

McConkey then side-stepped his way through three minutes before the half ended to put his side 22-0 ahead.

Antrim then responded but got nothing for all their pressure and Skillen's second put an end to any potential revival.

Despite being down to 14 players after Renfrew's yellow card, Grosvenor came again through winger Lusty and, with Renfrew back again, Skillen nailed his hat-trick five minutes before the end after the home side moved the ball wide.

Antrim's Adam McCullough then charged over from the last play with Callum Hull converting.

DANSKE BANK SCHOOLS' CUP ROUND TWO RESULTS

Cambridge House 34 Banbridge Academy 22

Foyle College 0 Dromore HS 17

Larne GS 0 Lurgan College 14

Carrick GS 17 Regent House 40

Rainey Endowed 40 Belfast HS 15

Grosvenor GS 37 Antrim GS 7

Portadown College 36 Limavady GS 5

THIRD ROUND DRAW

Lurgan College v Down HS

Rainey v Portadown

Grosvenor v Dungannon

Coleraine GS v Friends' School

Omagh Academy v Bangor GS

Cambridge House v Regent

BRA v Sullivan Upper

Dromore HS v Dalriada

Matches to be played on or before Saturday, January 20

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