SCHOOLS’ CUP RUGBY: Strong second half gets Friends’ School over the line against Wellington College

Wellington's Karl Sloan pushes forward against Friend's  Bart Campbell
Wellington's Karl Sloan pushes forward against Friend's Bart Campbell

Wellington College 3 Friends’ School 22

A strong second half from Friends’ School, Lisburn, saw them overcome a dogged Wellington College side at the Belfast venue in the first round of the Danske Bank Schools’ Cup.

The first half, with rain pouring down, was a forward dominated game with both packs of battling each other at scrum time, in the air at lineout time and on the ground at breakdown time.

No quarter was asked or given for the duration of the game.

The only score from the first half came from a penalty kick which was converted successfully by Friends’ outhalf, David Stewart, for a 3-0 lead.

Friends’ ill discipline cost them ground and possession at times in the course of the first half but their defence was well-organised. Clever work at the breakdown, allied to some big tackles from players such as Adam Milligan and Chris Nesbitt, ensured the Wellington attacks, which were intense, came to nothing.

Even the hard lines ran by the impressive Wellington College No 8 and captain, Jason Lyons, came to nothing and it was the Friends’ School, Lisburn team that took their 3-0 lead into the halftime break.

The second half started in the same manner with the wet and dirty conditions calling on both packs to work hard.

A strong run from Lyons resulted in a yellow card for a Friends’ School player which put even more pressure on the visiting defence.

Wellington College became encamped in the Friends’ ‘22’. They forced numerous penalties but again, due to outstanding defence from the visitors, they could find no way through. However, a penalty from the trusty boot of Jamie Hewitt was some reward for the efforts and the game was tied at 3-3.

Friends’ came back with intent and, with Adam Scholfield taking a quick tap penalty, David Stewart was in a position to put his flanker, Kirk McGrady, over the Wellington line for a try. Stewart added the conversion to put Friends’ into a 10-3 lead.

This try gave Friends’ renewed confidence and when a Wellington player dropped a box kick, George Pringle took advantage, gathered and made good ground. His pass to Curtis Dundas was perfect and he outpaced a despairing Wellington defence to score a timely try. Again, Stewart converted to make it 17-3.

In the last ten minutes of the game both teams used a number of replacement players. The Friends’ attack maintained pressure on the Wellington defence.

This positive approach paid off when, in the dying minutes, Adam Milligan broke off the back of a maul to run in and touchdown to score an unconverted try and complete the scoring.

Friends’ will be on the road again in round two on Saturday, January 23, when they face Portadown College.

In the Schools’ Trophy, Wellington College will have a home quarter-final against Banbridge Academy.