Firsts bow out of Cup

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It was expected to be an easy fixture for the much fancied Ballymena side to take them straight into the Northern Bank School’s Cup quarter final, however CAI put up an excellent fight against the very possible winners of the competition.

With a number of the visitor’s players already having representative honours, it would be a tough local derby for the young CAI side.

For the first ten minutes it seemed to be very much of a kicking game, both fullbacks battling for territory. When Ballymena were on the ball, the CAI team defended fiercely with some excellent tackling from flankers, Joe Livingstone and Mark Gordon. Unfortunately the home side conceded a penalty in a very kickable position which enabled Ballymena’s Darren Geddis to get his side in front with 15 minutes gone.

However CAI responded with an opportunity of their own with a penalty attempt from Mikey Poskitt which seemed to go over but the referee didn’t see it that way!  Ballymena got back on the front foot with sustained pressure deep in the CAI 22. The Ballymena winger showed excellent pace to round his opposite man and touch down below the posts. The conversion was added to extend their lead to 10 points to nil.

Coleraine came back into the game immediately and enjoyed a lengthy period of time in the Ballymena half however could not come away with any points despite good forward play from Mark Brown and Ryan Boyd. The CAI backs looked to be in great form with play being dictated brilliantly by Conor Shiels and some tremendous line breaks from Johnny Crowe.

At the break, the match looked to go either way but the visitors were just ahead by 10 points.

Although, crucially Ballymena opened the scoring in the second half when their centre took advantage of open space on the right wing to touchdown in the corner with 40 minutes gone. The conversion was successful.

10 minutes later, Ballymena scored again after great work through their forwards however the conversion was not added. This score was unflattering for CAI despite their hard work.

Ballymena might have expected the Coleraine heads to drop but, instead, the home team rallied and enjoyed their best period of play for the remainder of the match pressurizing the visitors defence for the remainder of the match.    

A superb kick by Conor Shiels pinned Ballymena back deep into their 22. The decision to take a quick line out enabled Peter Kidd to charge down the resulting clearance kick to score under the posts. Mikey Poskitt converted.

There were some outstanding performances from Peter Kidd, Conor Shiels, Mark Gordon and Andrew Richardson but the Man of the Match had to go to Mikey Poskitt who had a great game in defence and attack.

Although no visit to Ravenhill for the CAI team, they have proved over the last number of weeks that they can indeed compete with the big teams. They should take a lot of confidence from the 2012 campaign and realise that with such a young team they have the belief and ability to bring the Schools Cup back to Coleraine for the first time since 1992.