Down High School Under 13s produced a fantastic display to beat Campbell College on a cold and clear morning at the Swamp. Playing with the wind, things didn’t start well for the home side when Greg Hutley’s opening kick went dead to give Campbell a scrum at halfway. The Belfast side were very effective in recycling the ball at ruck situations and were slick when moving the ball along their backs but Down’s well drilled defence meant that Campbell very rarely passed the gain line. Down showed good signs when they had the ball in hand but now and again their handling let them down as they looked for the final pass. Towards the end of the half, Campbell opened the scoring after the home time were penalised for infringing at the breakdown. A couple of phases of play saw the Campbell scrum half pick up and spot a gap at the edge of the ruck to score an unconverted try. Down responded with great character and had a scrum with the last play of the half. Scrum half Connor Gibson could have easily kicked the ball dead and taken halftime but he moved the ball to fly half Hutley who put in an intelligent kick behind the Campbell defence. The covering full back misjudged where he was on the pitch and placed the ball between the goal line and 5 metre line. The Campbell players realised the mistake and they managed to secure the ball but somehow the ball squirted out of the back of the ruck and winger Christy Lindsay was on hand to pounce. Hutley added the extras to leave the halftime score 7-5 in favour of the men in green.
Down knew that the Belfast side would come back at them strong in the second half but once again the defence stood firm with Conor Moag, Andrew McCoubrey and Matthew Frazer in particular putting in some big hits. Meanwhile Down still looked threatening at times with fullback Jonathan Mason and 2nd row Charlie Marshall being effective in breaking the gain line. With 10 minutes to go, it looked as Down’s defence was breached when the Campbell flanker sped down the blindside to score in the corner. However play was pulled back as he had put a foot in touch, much to the relief of the home support. The home team comfortably played out the last ten minutes to secure a fine victory against one of the kingpins of Ulster School rugby.
Down High Under 13s have shown remarkable progress this season and this result will show they are capable of competing with any team.