Danske Bank Ulster Schools' Cup Final from Kingspan Stadium
Newsletter RBAI 12, Methody 8
RBAI prevailed in a low scoring Schools Cup final against Belfast rivals Methody in poor weather conditions at Kingspan Stadium on St Patrick's Day.
It was Dan Soper’s side third consecutive victory in the tournament and a first hat trick of titles since 1948.
Two tries in the first 23 minutes proved enough to see Inst over the line but they had to survive a strong fight back by Methody after losing captain Michael Lowry to injury at the start of the second half. However, a strong defensive performance saw them edge home and lift the title for a 32nd time.
Centre James Hume missed a long range penalty for the defending champions after two minutes when Methody were caught offside in midfield.
Inst scrum-half Rhys O’Donnell got the game’s opening score on 15 minutes. Dan Soper’s side kicked a penalty to touch, from the line-out the forwards set up a driving maul and rumbled close to the line. The ball was worked to the blindside where O’Donnell barged over with Hume adding the touchline conversion.
RBAI’s second try on 23 minutes was again due to forward power. They kicked a penalty to touch and from a strong driving maul, lock David McCann charged over from close range but Hume missed the conversion attempt.
Winger Chris Larmour got Methody back in the game three minutes before half time.
Methody won a penalty and kicked for touch. The forwards controlled the ball with No. 8 Thomas Gallagher making a dart for the line before being held up. The pack had another couple of drives before the ball was spun wide to centre Paul Kerr and full back Kane Doherty shifted it through the hands to create space for Larmour to go over in the corner.
Kerr missed the conversion meaning Inst went into the break with a 12-5 lead.
Methody spurned a great chance after the restart when they kicked a penalty to touch but were caught offside from the maul after taking the line-out.
Kerr was sin binned for a high tackle on Lowry on 42 minutes but Inst were reduced to 14 men three minutes later when Hume was guilty of the same offence on Methody out half Thomas Armstrong.
Larmour nearly got his second try on 46 minutes. Methody kicked a penalty to touch, the forwards making some hard yards before the ball was switched across the pitch but Larmour was stopped by a try saving tackle from Lowry.
Methody got the first points of the second half with 56 minutes gone when Kerr knocked over a simple penalty from in front of the posts after Inst were caught offside.
And Inst missed a chance to extend their lead when they opted from a scrum instead of going for a kickable penalty against the wind.
The last 10 minutes were played in the Methody 22 and Inst had a few chances to score but couldn’t capitalise while Methody, despite having the wind, tried to run the ball out of defence.
RBAI: J Finnegan, Z Davidson, J Hume, D Lyttle, N Armstrong, M Lowry, R O’Donnell, C Reid, N Saulters, M Nelson, D Wallace, D McCann, D Finnegan, C Cloke, Y Omar. (Replacements) C McCormick, P McLernon, E Sloan, B Gribben, E Field, A Adair, R McIlveen, S Fryers
Methody: K Doherty, E McIlroy, J McConnell, P Kerr, C Larmour, T Armstrong, J Jordan, D Morelli, J Trainor, B Crangle, J Bingham, H Gibbons, C Kelly, T Gallagher, M Gallagher. (Replacements) C Conn, E Gentry, C Fletcher, K McNaboe, C Kelly, M Neill, L Millar, L Lowry
Referee: O Quinn