Ballyclare High School arrived at Coleraine Inst on Saturday to play what would be a game of three thirds, rather than two halves.
This was changed and agreed by both coaches due to a number of injuries in both sides, especially with the Danske Bank Schools’ Cup in just over a month.
The game begun with Inst in possession and looking intent on playing good rugby from the off. The first five minutes were controlled by the home side with the ball being moved well from Inst. With an infringement at the ruck, this allowed Ballyclare to relieve the pressure and get themselves a better field position.
Ballyclare, like Inst, in the opening exchanges controlled their possession well but the different was they were able to gain a reward for their hard work, a kick at goal from 25 metres. A somewhat simple kick in front of the posted was directed just wide of the posts to leave the score remaining at 0-0. From then Inst began to exert more pressure on the Ballyclare team and moments after the missed place kick Coleraine out-half Shiels, bumped off a weak tackle to score under the posts and convert his own try. Inst in the dying moments of the third were unfortunate not to grab another but despite half-back Kidd scoring, the referee had already blown his whistle for a Ballyclare infringement.
At the beginning of the second third Inst brought off a number of their starting 1st XV players and the coaches gave many of the 2nd XV a chance to impress. Nearly the whole team was changed for this third and this was evident with Ballyclare able to run in three tries to Inst’s one, scored by Alross Alejo and converted by Cameron Fulton. The end of this third ended 17-7 in favour of the away side but there were a number of impressive performances from 2nd XV members.
The final third of the match saw many of the 1st XV members return to the pitch and this seemed to spark a more competitive game as a result. Inst were able to get on the front foot a lot but unable for once to convert the chances there for the taking. It wasn’t until a few minutes before the end that Ballyclare were able to score close to the posts and convert for a 7-0 lead in the final third. The score would remain this way until the end and leave the final score at 29- 14 to Ballyclare.
Despite this, Inst can take a lot of positives from the game, especially a stand out performance from 5th former Oliver McDowell who was superb all day both at the ruck and in the open. As well as this, the way the Inst side’s defence has come on in recent weeks will be happy to see for Coaches Richard Beggs and Mark Palmer. Coleraine Inst 1st XV’s next match is away to Wallace High School on December 29th.
Meanwhile, congratulations go to the 3rd XV who beat Limavady in the first round of the 3rd XV cup. The two teams were well matched in the first half but Inst. opened the scoring after some slick hands by the backs led to a try by Callum Faith Crothers. Limavady replied with a try of their own to make it 5-5. The CAI half back partnership of Jack Farrell and Matthew Smith continued to apply pressure and create space for the home team but it was left to Adam Smyth to score Inst’s next try. He used his pace and elusive running to find space and beat five players to score a try in the corner.
From the restart the ball was passed to Adam again who outpaced the Limavady defence down the left touchline to score another try. Despite ferocious tackling by James Holden and Jamie Carson Limavady scored another try in reply. CAI reapplied the pressure and hard rucking by captain Danny Irons and Paul Douglas created a chance for the back which Adam Smith finished off to complete his hatrick. Callum Faith Crothers had to go off with a knee injury which allowed Bradley Graham to come on who was an imposing presence in both defence and attack.
At half time the game seemed to be going in Inst’s favour but after the restart Limavady scored two tries in quick succession to bring them back into the game. The lineouts were working well with Jordan Vauls linking up proficiently with Jack McCarroll and the introduction of Matthew Heath helped CAI to dominate the scrums. It was left to Paul Douglas and Rory Taggart to score the last two tries to make the final score 37-27. It was a great performance from the team and they are now looking forward to seeing who their opponents are going to be in the next round.