Schools' Cup: Methody leave it late again as Gallagher books passage
RS Armagh 24 - Methodist College 28
Methody have been making a habit of coming from behind as they did against Down High in the last round but on this occasion they left it seriously late before emerging victors to face Belfast Royal Academy in the Schools' Cup semi-final tomorrow week.
There were only seven minutes remaining when they took the lead for the first time against a gallant Armagh Royal side that had earlier built up a 21-7 advantage.
"We had Hugh Gibbons yellow carded after only two minutes and we're not quite sure why'," said Methody's Stevie Lindsay, who shares the coaching role with Nicky Wells.
"It obviously wasn't for consistent infringing but it was a setback so we had to regroup."
Armagh took advantage and after nine minutes Glen Faloon put them ahead through a penalty.
This made Methody up their game and they started to attack inside the home territory. The home defence held before a wayward Methody pass allowed Zac Thompson (right) to intercept and run nearly the full length of the pitch to go under the posts for Faloon to convert.
So Armagh were 10 points ahead mid-way through the first period but the Belfast pack then gained the upper hand and following a number of phases Thomas Gallagher picked up and crashed over in the left hand corner. Paul Kerr was successful with the difficult conversion and Methody were back within three points.
Armagh replied with some aggressive rugby and contained their opponents within their own '22' where persistent pressure and accurate passing finally created a chance and Nicholas Jennings scored on the left to give his team a well deserved 15-7 interval advantage.
The accurate kicking of Fallon resulted in two penalties and the gap widened to 14 points and Methody were facing a real challenge.
They knuckled down for a hard and difficult remaining period and their pack under the leadership of Mattie Loane started to gain the upper hand. They monopolised possession for a time with the pack and half-backs in tandem and that led to territorial advantage.
Their No 8 Gallagher proved his worth when he broke free from ten metres out and went through a couple of tackles to dive over for Kerr to do the needful. Armagh came back with another Faloon penalty before the visiting forwards regained the initiative and it was the turn of Loane to score the third which was also goaled.
Confidence was now brimming in the Methody camp and as their opponents, who had put up a magnificent performance, started to weaken it was none other than Gallagher who put the issue beyond doubt with his third try. The calm Kerr kicked his fourth conversion so his contribution to the victory was vital.
Coach Lindsay admitted he was relieved.
"We worked hard and are pleased to reach the semi-finals again. We look forward to the clash with Academy. We played them very early in the season and won but we know they have improved immensely since as their results prove," commented Lindsay.