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In-form Methody must seize the day, says Wells

 

Cup focus: Nick Wells knows Wallace offer a huge challenge
Cup focus: Nick Wells knows Wallace offer a huge challenge

By Michael Sadlier

This could be quite a clash, with the firm favourites to win the competition meeting arguably the side best placed to prevent that ultimate outcome.

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Methodist College Belfast have been the clear stand-out side this season, with a backline of head-turning quality allied to a hard-nosed pack.

With no Schools' Cup having been claimed by the long-running competition's most successful participants since 2014, it would seem that the time feels right for them to make a 64th final to have a shot at winning the trophy for the 37th time.

The pressure is on this talented Methody side to perform and, though they were good for their quarter-final victory over RBAI at Pirrie Park, a much more accurate effort will be needed today.

Wallace carry no such baggage of huge expectation - though they have never won the competition from their five previous finals - and believe that they have hit form at the right time.

The Lisburn school, with the talented Nathan Doak pulling the strings at scrum-half, are quietly confident that they can halt the Methody juggernaut, with winning twice on the road to get here also being of benefit.

While rightly acknowledging the talents of his side's backline, containing out-half Thomas Armstrong and a pacey back three of full-back Ethan McIlroy and wingers Tom O'Doherty and Chris Larmour, Methody head coach Nick Wells also stressed that Wallace represent a major challenge.

"We know all about them and have done for a while," Wells said of Wallace.

"They were an outstanding Medallion side and they are really well organised and coached.

"We will need to be at the very top of our game and will have to get it right against them."

Wallace are under no illusions of what they will face, but in Doak, centre Ben Carson and No.8 and skipper Reuben Crothers - his duel with opposite number and Methody captain Kevin McNaboe should be tasty - they have quality players.

"If you have aspirations of winning the competition this year, you're going to have to beat Methody," admitted assistant coach Neil Hinds.

"Methody have been head and shoulders above any other team in Ulster and, arguably, in Ireland this year.

"They have already beaten us convincingly earlier this season so, for us to compete, it requires everything to be very accurate."

METHODY: E McIlroy; T O'Doherty, R Armstrong, J Fletcher, C Larmour; T Armstrong, C Davidson; B Crangle, D Humphreys, T Linton; M Lyttle, B Gourley; D Boden, A Reid, K McNaboe (capt). Subs: J Watson, P Johnston, M Hunter, T Millar, A Simms, L Simms, L Graham, L Millar.

WALLACE: J McNeight; L Allison, B Carson, J Dundas, N Robinson; J Dillon, N Doak; J Bailie, D Sedge, H Long; P McRoberts, D Kilpatrick; K Patton, H McMeekin, R Crothers (capt). Subs: D McCavery, J Crane, S Wilson, M Thompson, C Irvine, L Rushe, B Watson, L Nelmes.

Methody vs Wallace High

Danske Bank Schools' Cup Semi-Final

Kingspan Stadium, Today, 2.30pm

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