In perfect playing conditions the Down boys set out on a journey to North Belfast to commence battle against a strong BRA side. Down won the toss which led to skipper Patrick Browne placing the ball deep into BRA’s half. A large chase from the boys in green resulted in outstanding pressure on BRA’s back three. A stoppage in play due to a knock on from BRA led to Down securing the put in for the scrum. A clever number eight pick from Zac Ward led to a dive between the posts, putting Down five points up against the home side. Patrick Browne easily converted.
A few phases later, after strong rucking from the Down front row consisting of Michael Harper, Sam Rickard and Rory Horder, possession was secured by the Down High boys. Yet again it was Zac Ward to make a break down the left wing fending off many tacklers on his bombardment to the line. Browne failed to convert.
Down High were now winning by twelve points to zero. Great credit should be awarded to Claytan Milligan, Lewis Canning, Andrew McCullough and Jonny McCoubrey for ferocious tackling throughout. However, Belfast Royal had some gas left in the tank and managed to outwit the Down defence and score their first converted try.
After an inspiring half time talk from the Down High coach Mr Carson, the boys with renewed vigour once again made their way onto the pitch knowing that BRA would be giving the second half their all. Tensions were high amongst the players but good discipline from both teams enabled the game to flow well. Great kicking from the skipper Patrick Browne and full-back William Annett offered Down High numerous opportunities to score. Eventually William Annett secured the third try after a few great phases of play from Down which Browne effortlessly converted.
Even though Down’s pack were by far the lighter, every lineout, maul and scrum was dominated by the boys in green. A magnificent team effort was put in place by a turnover at the breakdown leading to outside centre Jonny McCoubrey diving for Down’s final try of the match. Browne failed to convert.
With three minutes left to play BRA dug deep and managed to find the inner strength to deliver their second converted try of the match. Commendation must be given to prop Michael Harper who unfortunately had to leave the field due to a leg injury after putting in a fantastic performance throughout. Man of the match went to Lewis Canning.