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School's Cup: Champions Inst won't take Coleraine challenge lightly

By Ronnie Ingram

It's been many years since Coleraine Grammar defeated Methodist College, Campbell College and RBAI all in the same season but that is their ambition when they face the latter in the third round of the Danske Bank Schools' Cup at Osborne Park tomorrow.

They did lose 27-5 to their opponents earlier in the season but Inst coach Daniel Soper reads absolutely nothing into that result.

"We played them just after the Representative games when neither side had settled," he said. "I remember we had the better of the first-half but Coleraine showed us what they were made of in the second period.

"The result was not a fair reflection of how Coleraine played as there was little in it. For this tie we will be without our vice-captain and back row forward Charlie Fryers and also second row Pierce McLernon but we are hopeful that Michael Lowry will be fit.

"The out-half suffered an ankle injury on the tour to Plymouth two weeks ago but has responded well to treatment."

Soper is aware that Coleraine defeated Methody for the first time in nine years earlier this season and realises that his team face a formidable task.

"We will try to play our usual open style of rugby if the weather permits but with our all round strength we can adjust accordingly and play simple rugby if required," he added.

Inst, the defending champions, have lost five times this season but only two were against local opposition - Wallace High and Campbell College - whereas Coleraine are undefeated since November.

Their home successes against Methody (20-10) and Campbell (17-13) make up two of their eight wins in a row which have instilled plenty of confidence before this third round tie.

Coleraine, under the coaching team of Richard Boyd and Stephen Douglas, also train the Town team and they are also having a successful season.

Douglas is a former Inst pupil and captained them to a Schools' Cup triumph while Ballymena out-half Ritchie McMaster, who is a son of Derry coach Terry, has returned to give some tips to his former school.

Boyd knows this is a tough draw but his squad are relishing the contest.

"We started the season slowly and suffered a number of injuries but since then we have grown in confidence," he commented.

"We have had some convincing wins and the squad which has been together for the past four years has gained plenty of experience.

"We have some excellent players in top try scorers Thomas Lavery and Niall Cameron but everyone has worked exceptionally hard under Stephen Ritchie, our strength and conditioning coach, Ally Cooper and myself.

"We will give it our all but we have nothing to lose really with all the pressure on Inst."

Ballyclare High captain Ryan McIlwaine, meanwhile, suffered concussion in the bruising tie against Dungannon Royal so back row forward Andrew Seymour will lead the side against Bangor Grammar.

Bangor coach Jason Morgan feels his team have shown a lot of improvement in recent times after an inconsistent period.

"In the last round against Limavady Grammar we left a lot of points on the pitch which is something we cannot afford to do at Ballyclare," he said.

"I know they defeated us convincingly early in the season but we were without 12 regulars and now we hope to be at full strength."

OTHER TIES: Regent House v Sullivan Upper; Friends v Campbell College; Foyle College v Dalriada; Down High v BRA; Ballymena Academy v Wallace High; Methodist College v Rainey Endowed.

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