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Rugby Schools Cup: Moore sets sights on ending Wallace High misery in RBAI showdown at Kingspan

By Jonathan Bradley

When Wallace High walk out at the Kingspan Stadium this afternoon they will be determined to shake off the tag of unlucky losers that has plagued the school for years.

This will be the fifth time that the Lisburn institution has reached the Schools' Cup final and yet they have never ended the day with their name being inscribed onto the old trophy.

Indeed, no school has ever racked up more final defeats without being crowned champions. Their two most recent heartaches, in 2003 and 2007, both came at the hands of today's opponents, RBAI.

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With Inst having won more titles than any school bar their Belfast rivals Methody, the difference between the relative histories of the two schools could hardly be more pronounced.

Wallace captain Sam Moore is, however, hoping that the past has no bearing on today's meeting.

"We know their history but it's something that we'll try not to think about," he said. "What's happened before doesn't count.

"It's just our team against their team and 15 guys on each side the same age going against each other. They have that history and they want to keep that going. It's a legacy that they want to contribute to.

"It's different for us, we don't mind being the underdogs, and we want to be the first Wallace side to win the Schools' Cup."

Wallace reached today's showpiece after knocking out Methody in the semi-finals earlier this month, in the process becoming the first school to beat Nick Wells' side in this competition since February 2011. The win came thanks to a late try from Ben Finlay, and an even later penalty miss from Methody moments before the final whistle, but despite knocking out the champions and avenging the previous year's defeat at the same stage, Wallace were far from exuberant in their celebrations.

Agitated by some handling errors and wasted chances, both coaches and players were critical of the performance and Moore has warned that a similar showing today will result in yet another final loss.

"If we play like we did against Methody then we won't win," he said. "We made a lot of mistakes and there was a lot to work on.

"We were happy to get the win, and we took a bit of time to celebrate and to rest, but we knew that we had to get back out training and work on things."

Such ruthless dissection of victory may seem unusual at this level but this is a Wallace side who have been driven by grander objectives.

A pre-season meeting established that a realistic target was a Schools' Cup title and an undefeated season with the school just one win away from achieving both.

With 12 upper-sixth players in the starting XV, such goals have long been mooted for this group but Moore is keen to stress that nothing has yet been earned.

"A lot of the team were playing last year when we lost to Methody in the semis and when we won this year, there was really a sense that we got one back on them, but we know that's not the finished product," he said.

"An unbeaten season is in the back of our heads. The only way to get it now is to win the Schools' Cup."

Only then, it would appear, will Moore and his team be satisfied.

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