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Lightning strikes again as Academy reach final


Ballymena Academy's man of the match, David Whann, holds off a challenge from Gareth Reilly

Ballymena Academy's man of the match, David Whann, holds off a challenge from Gareth Reilly

Ballymena Academy's man of the match, David Whann, holds off a challenge from Gareth Reilly

Ballymena Academy proved lightning can strike twice as an injury time try stunned holders Methody and earned them a place in the Northern Bank Schools' Cup final against Belfast Royal Academy at Ravenhill on St Patrick's Day.

Back off: Ballymena Academy’s man of the match, David Whann, holds off a challenge from Gareth Reilly. PRESSEYE

On Saturday, a try from the final move of the match won the quarter final replay against Friends and yesterday John Andrew was Academy’s last gasp hero to give them a shock but fully merited win.

They were the better team for most of the tie and had in second row forward Matthew Rea the man of the match as they controlled most of the possession and enjoyed the territorial advantage.

Methody failed to play up to expectation but their disappointing performance should not take away from Ballymena’s heroic display.

The Belfast school lost line-outs in the first half and were particularily vulnerable to high kicks. When they did look dangerous around the Ballymena ‘22' they gave away penalties or made basic handling errors.

Academy, with their robust tackling, dictated the pattern of play in the first half and were unfortunate to be 6-7 in arrears at the interval.

They pressurised from the start and after eight minutes were six points ahead, out-half Callum Patterson kicking a penalty and then dropping a goal.

He missed with two more drop goal attempts and Methody struck back just before half-time.

Following a ‘catch and drive' and four phases of play, out-half Paddy Jackson found a gap and cut through to touch down and add the conversion.

Ballymena's tactics were obvious after the restart as the high kicks had earlier paid dividends and Methody were now playing into the sun.

However, the holders increased their lead with a Jackson penalty and looked as though they could go further ahead when the out-half gathered outside the ‘22' and showed his skills to weave through the defence to within seven metres of the line. Again they failed to make use of their opportunity and, following a couple of rucks, Ballymena managed to 'turn over the ball' under their posts.

Ballymena full-back and captain Charlie Simpson had made a few dangerous looking runs and towards the close Methody decided to move Blane McIlroy back to his usual full-back position but the damage had already been done.

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With only a couple of minutes left, Ballymena broke away were awarded a penalty. The kick took play into the Methody ‘22' and after continuous pressure Andrew crashed over for the winning try. The conversion was missed but the full time whistle blew.

A delighted Simpson said: “We have put in a lot of work recently and despite the late pressure we stuck to our task right to the end and it paid dividends.”

Methodist College: Ben McIlroy, M.Gribben, M.Best, R.Martin, J.Stanfield, P.Jackson, Blane McIlroy, R.Harrison, G.Reilly, C.Carey, C.Long, J.Camara, J.Andress, R.Winters, P.McKee,

Ballymena Academy: C.Simpson, J.McClelland, G.Delpy, P.Storey, C.Morrison, C.Patterson, P.Banda, S.McNabney, J.Andrew, K.Galloway, M.Rea, D.Whann, T.Patton, G.Dennison, P.Wallace.

Referee: C. Stanley.

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