Coleraine Inst Medallion hosted RBAI on Saturday morning in the Medallion Shield Quarter Final.
It was an eagerly anticipated contest by both sets of supporters and with excellent playing conditions it was set fair for a cracking contest. Both sides have had solid Medallion campaigns this year and this was a good test for the Coleraine side to see how far they have progressed since training began in August. After last week’s outstanding performance in the fourth round against BRA the boys from Coleraine were full of confidence and ready for the challenge of toppling another of the top seeds for the Shield.
The match began at a frantic pace with both sides looking to gain early dominance over their counterparts. RBAI started the better of the two sides with some strong running from their back row and excellent link up play from their half backs. Coleraine dug deep and defended with determination, forcing RBAI into a number of errors. The pressure finally took its toll and CAI conceded a penalty at the breakdown which was converted to leave the score 3-0 to RBAI after 13 minutes.
This could have been a real blow to the CAI side and heads could have dropped but to their credit they dominated the next ten minutes, putting pressure on the RBAI scrum and on the back three with some excellent kicking from Bruce Campbell and Cameron Fulton.
Although the Coleraine side had territory and possession, unfortunately they failed to take their chances and covert this pressure to points. Cameron Fulton missed two long range attempts at goal, one hitting the post and this may have proved to be costly in the overall result in the game.
However, CAI continued to pile on the pressure and had their Belfast counterparts rattled with number eight Daniel McAllister making a number of important carries close to half time. After some excellent link up play from the tight five, RBAI conceded another kickable penalty. This time Fulton slotted the ball between the posts and levelled the scores just before the interval.
The second half started with Coleraine putting more pressure on the RBAI side with some excellent work by the CAI backline. Yet again they struggled to break down their opponents outstanding defence and put points on the board. After this sustained pressure, RBAI started to come more and more into the game and tested Coleraine with some strong and direct running from their first centre and big pack.
This pressure led to RBAI dominating possession and territory for the majority of the half. Coleraine could have thrown the towel in but showed great determination and spirit to keep the Belfast side out. Coleraine looked very well organised in defence and showed magnificent discipline not to concede any kickable penalties.
A counter attack led by promising prop Andrew Moore and a superb kick and chase by the back three gave CAI some field position that they badly needed. After some pressure at the scrum, RBAI conceded a penalty which Fulton converted with great confidence to leave the score 6-3 to CAI.
RBAI threw everything at Coleraine in the last ten minutes and nearly scored the first try of the game but for a lack of composure from their right wing. Coleraine’s defence held firm and the boys picked up a magnificent victory to take them into the last four of the Shield.
This was a very determined and impressive performance from the young boys from Coleraine. Their defence, physical presence and discipline were superb. The pack again impressed at scrum time and more than held their own at the breakdown against a physical and much bigger RBAI side, but they must improve their lineout if they want to progress further.
The backs again looked dangerous when they had the ball and kicked well but they must learn to take improve their decision making and take their chances or they will be punished. Overall, this is an exciting time for junior rugby at the school and the Medallion have shown that honesty, hard work and determination can take you a long way in seven months.
The side are improving week by week and coaches Mr Boyd, Mr Gaston and Mr Graham are very proud of the boys’ achievements to date and are confident the side benefited hugely from the past two weekends, going into the semi finals with a very determined and positive mindset.