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RBAI experience of Kingspan is proving crucial, admits Daniel Soper

By Jonathan Bradley

RBAI head coach Daniel Soper is not feeling the weight of history on his shoulders after watching his side book their place in the Danske Bank Schools' Cup final with a thumping 41-8 win over Ballymena Academy in the last four yesterday.

Champions Inst have won the competition in back-to-back years, with no school other than Methody having secured the trophy in three consecutive seasons since the 1940s.

"I suppose now someone will dive into the history books and see what is potentially on but this is a different team to last year's and the year before," said the coach who also took Ballyclare High to a final.

"Yes, there are a few who have been fortunate enough to be here all three years, but there are lots of guys who this is their first chance at a final."

Inst were clinical in their execution yesterday, running in seven tries including a hat-trick for Niall Armstrong, and showed no signs that the size of the occasion was on the minds of the players.

Soper admitted that having so many senior players who have played in big games at the home of Ulster Rugby over the last three years makes the task easier.

"There's seven or eight who were in the team in fifth form from when we won, three of them now will have started in three finals," he added.

"Three or four more were on the bench in that first final.

"They've played here and they're comfortable here.

"With young guys, it can be about how they deal with pressure but we're ready for that.

"We play a lot of games with pressure and they're used to it.

"It's like any skill, the more you do it, the more you're used to it.

"We're fortunate to have some outstanding senior players who keep everyone moving in the same direction."

Inst will meet the winners of today's second semi-final, between Methody and Belfast Royal Academy (2.30pm kick-off), on March 17.

Belfast Telegraph

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