Disappointment for spirited Friends’ side as College edge cup clash

It was a busy morning at Friends’ School, Lisburn when the Portadown College team arrived to play their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Round 1 game.

The College team arrived to play their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Round 1 game.

Action from the School's Cup match between Friends School and Portadown College. US1502-519cd  Picture: Cliff Donaldson

Action from the School's Cup match between Friends School and Portadown College. US1502-519cd Picture: Cliff Donaldson

The Friends’ School Open Day was in full swing with numerous visitors in and around the school. Many of the visitors took in the game which the Portadown College team won by 16-5.

The Portadown team lost their flanker, Sam White, to a non-contact injury during the warm up.

This provided their young replacement, Stuart Hodgen, with the opportunity to gain Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup experience somewhat earlier than he expected.

The game started in windy conditions with both teams attempting to impose their structures and patterns on the opposition.

Early nerves ensured a large number of mistakes but both teams were trying to play positive rugby.

The Friends’ School team made good use of the wind in their backs.

They secured a lot of possession from their lineout plays and were effective at the breakdown.

Their half backs made good use of the ball and kept the team on the front foot for good periods of time.

Curtis Dundas and Ryan Hall asked questions of the Portadown College defence, on a number of occasions. They got in behind the defence, at times, only to see the final pass go to ground or get bundled into touch when in possession.

Good use of the ball, with both forwards and backs involved in the build-up, saw the Friends’ School flanker, Adam Milligan, cross the Portadown College line to touch down for an unconverted try and give his team a deserved 5-0 lead thirty minutes into the game.

From the restart, the Portadown College team patiently worked their way back up the pitch and Niall Davidson and Michael Orr combined to create space for Michael to mount a rare attack on the Friends’ School line.

The Friends’ defence went on a drift and Portadown read the pattern well and touched down for an unconverted try to level the score at 5-5.

The Friends’ School team had an opportunity to retake the lead just before the break but a penalty kick chance was missed.

The Portadown College team made good use of the wind in their backs in the second half.

They pinned the Friends’ School team back with some astute kicks.

The Friends’ defence gave away two penalties in quick succession. Niall Davidson made no mistake with his trusty boot. He converted both penalty opportunities to put his team into an 11-5 lead early in the second half.

The visitors continued to press in the Friends’ School “Red Zone”. They took advantage of some very slack Friends’ School defence when the Portadown College left wing, Jordan Dowds, slipped through three missed tackles to touch down for an unconverted try and put his team into a 16-5 lead.

The Friends’ School team then went into attack mode but a mixture of poor decision making, allied to dropped passes at critical times in the final minutes of the game, ensured it was the Portadown College team that emerged from this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 1 encounter as 16-5 winners.