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Schools' Cup: Friends' power triumphs as Grosvenor battle hard

Grosvenor 14-22 Friends’ School

Making ground: Jack Harte of Friends School is tackled by Jordan Brown
Making ground: Jack Harte of Friends School is tackled by Jordan Brown
Matthew Chapman is challenged by Sam Harman and James McMaster

By Michael Sadlier

They had to battle for everything from this tense second round tie in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools' Cup, but Friends' School Lisburn had just too much firepower to call upon when winning 22-14 at Grosvenor Grammar.

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And this hard-earned victory has been rewarded with a home game as they welcome Ballyclare High School to Lisburn in round three on January 26.

Other schools who negotiated the third round included Down High School who destroyed Carrick Grammar 55-3 and are now at Omagh Academy.

Regent House won 10-8 at Dromore High School and host Bangor Grammar in a local derby while Lurgan College - who beat Foyle 13-8 - get to host Cambridge House after the Ballymena school just saw off Banbridge Academy 11-10.

Larne Grammar won 27-20 at Limavady and are at Royal School Dungannon in the third round while Belfast High School's expected 45-12 win at home to Strabane Academy means that they now have a short hop over to Belfast Royal Academy.

The other two round three ties see Coleraine Grammar entertain Dalriada and Rainey host Portadown College.

At Grosvenor, the visitors scored three tries which all came from close-in work from their forwards and, with Reece Malone - son of Ulster Rugby's Niall Malone - also contributing at out-half, they were always able to respond when Grosvenor put themselves in promising positions on the scoreboard.

Having said that, Grosvenor scored the try of the game when, breaking the siege in their 22 in the second half, centre Adam Moore's intercept ultimately leading to full-back Jack Breen stepping the scramble defence to dot down under the sticks.

Moore's conversion cut Friends' lead to just 15-14, before prop Cameron Loan powered over, with Malone adding the two points and make sure of the tie.

Afterwards, Friends' coach Steve Robinson said: "It was a tough game and a typical cup game, but the boys did very well.

"It helped going into half-time being in the lead (They were 8-7 ahead) and thankfully we were able to stay in front.

"There were lots of nerves and simple errors, but we mostly kept our momentum," he added.

Grosvenor coach Mark McDowell, whose side now travel to meet Limavady Grammar in the Schools' Trophy quarter-finals, was rightly proud of his squad's showing.

"We talked about character and that can't be questioned, we just made a few technical and game-management errors that ultimately cost us the game.

"We scored a super try and if we'd managed to take that kick-off, rather than being hemmed in our own 22, we might have got something out of it.

"Probably our key mistake was not being able to get out of our 22 and that's credit to Friends as they really hounded us in that area," McDowell stated.

Friends, who in Ethan Terris had the game's dominant force at the lineout, started strongly and scored first with a 13th minute try from lock Max Gillespie.

Malone, who had hit the post with an earlier penalty, was wide with the conversion.

Grosvenor hit back through their own series of pick and drives when number eight Josh Patterson barged over with Moore's conversion nudging the home side 7-5 in front.

But they couldn't build on that and a Malone penalty put Friends 8-7 up on the stroke of half-time.

Flanker Ryan McGucken's score, early on, was converted by Malone and, at 15-7, Friends began to turn the screw until Grosvenor - with flankers Harry Graham and skipper Josh Malcolm leading some heroic defence - broke out for Breen's great try.

Again, though, Friends' pack put in the hard yards and ground their hosts down through Loan's late try.




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