Danske Bank Medallion Plate Final
Down High 5 Ballymena 17
Conditions were perfect for running rugby at Roughfort Playing Fields on Tuesday with the pitch in phenomenal order and the sun beating down on affairs.
Down High opened the scoring in style when Ronan Patterson crossed the whitewash 5 minutes in when he made a great break off a Jack Carlisle pass. Robin Wilson nudged the conversion wide.
The next 25 minutes were entertaining with both teams exhibiting some fine attacking play. This was especially the case for Down High who made three distinct breaks that should have turned to tries but on all occasions they were unable to add the required finishing touches to put points on the scoreboard. Ballymena to their credit also scrambled extremely well in defence. This left Down High going into half time 5-0 up.
Down High were again the stronger side in the opening 14 minutes of the second half and spent almost all this time in the Ballymena half however again they were unable to cross the line.
The tide turned around 15 minutes into the second half when Ballymena made a break deep into Down High territory. The Down High defence scrambled very successfully at this point and forced 'Mena into touch however the boys in green uncharacteristically lost the resulting lineout and a few phases afterwards, Ballymena charged across the line for their first try. The talented Ballymena out half added the conversion to give his side a 2 point lead.
After the restart Down returned to the Ballymena half with great gusto and again a score didn't look far away with line breaks from Lewis Finlay and Ronan Patterson however the 'Mena defence held firm.
In the final 5 minutes Ballymena delivered the fatal blow to Down High's hopes of lifting the plate at the final whistle when a number of attacking phases left a few Down High players injured and the boys in green short enough men to contain Ballymena's attack. The Co. Antrim side dived over the line under the posts leaving an easy conversion and enough cushion on the scoreboard to keep Down High's hands off the plate.
In the final few minutes with the result beyond doubt, Ballymena added a further penalty to give them a 17-5 win. Understandably, Down High's boys were gutted at full time. They had been on top, both in terms of performance and score, for so much of the game.
Danske Bank Medallion Plate Final
Danske Bank Medallion Plate: Semi Final
Down High Medallion welcomed Coleraine Inst to Downpatrick on Saturday for their Round 3 tie in the Danske Medallion Shield. Both sides and the large home crowd found themselves battling the frosty temperatures and cold winds with kick off even being pushed back 15 minutes to allow the pitch to more thoroughly thaw.
Coleraine opened the game kicking into the reasonably strong breeze. The opening encounters were scrappy with both sides clearly suffering from a few typical shield game nerves. Despite this Down High made good use of the wind on their backs and made good territorial gains. Indeed, the home team opened the scoring on the 12 minute mark when Robin Wilson struck over a relatively straight forward penalty after the Coleraine back line were a little over eager in their defence and strayed off side.
Down High’s lead was extended 20 minutes into the game when Andrew McNeilly touched down on the back of a strong maul from the home team. Wilson added the extras to take the score to 10-0.
For the remainder of the half both teams showed plenty of attacking intent but ultimately both also defended very successfully. At one stage, this included a fantastic covering tackle from the visiting defence who stopped Michael Donaldson dead in his tracks after he had made a superb break off a well-crafted set piece play. The score remained at 10-0 until half time.
In the second half, now playing into the wind, Down High had a tougher task on hand. For the opening 15 minutes, despite some great breaks in attack from the likes of Alexander Martin, Jack Carlisle, Rhys Patterson and Harris McConnell, the Coleraine defence stood firm and the home side were unable to add to their lead.
In fact, in what may have turned out to be a pivotal moment of the game, Coleraine missed a penalty attempt around 10 minutes into the half. Had this kick went over the margin would have been very assailable. As it turned out the kick drifted wide and from this point Down High stamped their authority on the game running in two more tries before the close of play.
The first try in the half came from Callum Dunn who showed great support play to take a pass off Robin Wilson and dive over. Wilson’s break had come after a large number of attacking phases by the home side had stretched the visiting defence. Wilson also went on to convert.
A few moments later, as the game was coming to a close and the visiting team beginning to tire, Harris McConnell cut a great line and showed great pace to run in for an impressive score off some open play. Wilson missed the conversion leaving the score at 29-0.
The final whistle blew shortly afterward securing a place in the fourth round for the men in green. The draw for the fourth round was carried out on Saturday evening and Down High received another home draw, this time against Wallace High School. This game will be played on Saturday 31st January.
Down High complete successful Junior Rugby Tour
On a crisp Wednesday morning, 44 boys and 4 staff gathered at Down High School to embark on a 3 day / 2 night rugby tour to Newcastle-upon-Tyne. After an uneventful crossing to Cairnryan and a 4 hour bus journey to Newcastle, the touring party arrived at King’s Priory College, Tynemouth for their first set of fixtures. The Under 13s managed to overpower their hosts with a comprehensive 44-0 victory. This match gave all tour participants ample game time and a total of eight tries were scored. It was fitting that the scoring was completed by man of the match Jacob Leaker. The Under 14s had an equally impressive 56-0 victory. A number of players were unavailable due to injury and being rested in preparation for Medallion Shield semi final and this shows the strength in depth of the Under 14s. Scores from Alex Martin who came on 2nd half and carried well with great aggression. Jack Carlisle who controlled the back line and William Browne with a super run through 5 opposition men. Rhys Patterson showed good pace and his skills were consistent as always, Substitute William McNamara demonstrated great ability and speed and Dan Browne whose quick thinking and determination resulted in a try. Man of the Match Ronan Patterson scored 3 tries showing great hunger for the ball as an adaptable flanker and centre! Also worth a mention are Luke Thompson for great physical aggression and great hits as well as Ben Keown's consistent top level work rate and ability to front up. A tired tour party eventually arrived at their hotel and the day finished with a brisk walk around the picturesque Gateshead Quayside.
Day 2 began with a hearty breakfast and a bus journey to Kingston Park, home of the Newcastle Falcons where the group were able to see behind the scenes of a professional Rugby Union set up. It was a particularly poignant visit for coach John Gunson as he spent three seasons on the books of Newcastle Falcons.
A visit to the Metro Centre for a spot of tenpin bowling preceded the second set of fixtures against Dame Allan’s school. These turned out to be much tougher fixtures than the previous day and the Under 13s had to dig really deep to ensure a 12-5 victory. Playing with the wind in the first half, Down struggled to cope with their hosts pattern of play and their ability to retain possession. However as the half proceeded, the boys in green started to stamp their authority and centre and man of the match Andrew McCoubrey scored two fine tries. The home side scored early in the second half and Down had to rely on all their defensive qualities to repel a strong ten minute period in the middle of the half. But they held on to secure a fine victory. The Under 14s also had a tougher match although the 24-0 victory doesn’t tell the whole story as the Down boys were only 5-0 up with 15 minutes left. Tries were scored by Ronan Patterson, William Browne and two from Alex Martin .Robin Wilson converted two of the tries. Ronan Patterson again played tremendously well in the centre and Alex's strength, control and domination stood out. Callum Dunn played out of his skin making great hits and stopping their prop dead in his tracks with a great low chop tackle. Man of the match went to Lewis Finlay whose scrum half skills have developed incredibly this season. Great passing, good ability to move quick ball between phases and great strength himself in carrying deserved him this recognition. Andrew McNeilly and Nicholas Cleave both worked hard in defence making good tackles too. Michael Donaldson also carried well and has shown great pace as a flanker and Chris Scurfield showed resilience and determination throughout the game. A successful tour party then return to the Metro Centre for a relaxed evening of food and retail therapy.
Day 3 began with a visit to the world famous “Angel of the North”. The long journey home then started and with a stop at the Gretna outlet centre, the coach eventually rolled into Downpatrick on Friday to mark the end of a successful tour.
Tour stalwart Mr John Gunson commented “Special thanks must go to the two schools for hosting us and the efforts made to make us feel very welcome. Credit must also go to the whole touring party on how they conducted themselves throughout the tour with many people commenting on how polite and courteous they were. The boys were certainly excellent ambassadors for Down High School”
The Down High U14 A & B sides notched up two fantastic wins against BRA at the weekend. The A's won 44-5 and the B side won 39-0. Well done lads.
Down High U14s 10-0 Campbell College U14s
Down High welcomed Campbell College for what they knew was going to be a very tough match. Several players were missing due to injury or promotion to the medallion side and Down High knew they would have to rise to the challenge.
Down kicked off into Campbell's half with their flanker making a clean catch but Callum Dunn made an important tackle preventing the flanker from gaining ground. Down High kept Campbell in their half with good tackling from Alex Martin and Michael Donaldson. Eventually Down turned the ball over supplying Jack Carlisle with the ball to land a perfect kick into the corner where they could apply more pressure to Campbell's back line. In the line out Campbell fumbled the ball forward giving Down a scrum in a promising position. Down were camped on Campbell's 5 metre line for a number of phases. Then outside centre Harris McConnell cut a line off inside centre Daniel Millington to score in the corner. Unluckily Rhys Patterson's conversion attempt narrowly missed the posts. Down kept the pressure up but didn't convert their chances.
Half time score 5-0 to DHS
Down started the second half with a good catch from Chris Scurfield setting up Carlisle for a kick to touch. Down kept the pressure up in Campbell's half with Carlisle making a good kick over the opposition heads which landed 10 metres out from the try line. A knock forward by Campbell's full back led to a scrum to Down High. Luke Thompson secured good ball for William McNamara to pass out the line to William Browne who got 5 metres out from the try line. Then McNamara passed quickly down the wing where McConnell narrowly missed a score in the corner due to the strong Campbell defence who tackled him into touch. At the line out Down regained the ball setting up the prop Ben Keown to power over the line for the try. Rhys Patterson came close with the conversion which rebounded off the post. Soon after though Campbell came back in force and were pushing Down High's defence to the very limit in their own 22. Down though managed to hold own for the win! Man of the match Harris McConnell.
Final score Down High 10-0 Campbell. Down High keep their impressive record of 9 matches unbeaten.
The Down High U14s were made to work hard for their 24-10 at Dromore today. Dromore scored the first and last tries of the game with tries from Ronan Patterson, Michael Donaldson, Robin Wilson and Bailey Thomas in between. Wilson also added conversions.
It was a bright and dry morning when Down High U14 travelled to Royal School Armagh for what was going to be a tough test as both teams were so far unbeaten.
Wilson’s kick off was taken well by an RSA second row who Alexander Martin hit hard to set up the first phase. A good ruck from Down resulted in Luke Thompson picking up the ball and charging over the line for an early score, Wilson added the extra points. The restart began with a good Down reception by Callum Dunn who carried the ball well into contact. Dan Browne, scrum half, passed the ball wide resulting in Ronan Patterson carrying well down the line. A bit of ill discipline by RSA allowed Wilson to kick a penalty into the RSA half. The resulting lineout was stolen but Andrew McNeilly charged through on the RSA scrumhalf setting up a ruck which Down turned over. Quick hands from the Down backs saw the ball in Jack Carlisle’s hands who crossed the line in the corner to give Down their second try. Wilson was faced with a difficult kick from the line; it was struck well but unfortunately caught the upright.
From the kick off play passed back and forth between the two teams due to some handling errors. RSA were starting to string a few phases of play together but strong defence from Down and good pressure saw RSA knock the ball on once more. A great scrum from the Down pack allowed Wilson to clear the ball well into the RSA half. The forwards stepped up once more and a great steal from Alexander Martin at the line out set up the backs for the next phase of attacks. Quick ball through the hands of the back line saw Ronan Patterson cross the white wash for Down’s third try. The conversion was missed.
Half time score DHS 17 RSA 0
The second half saw a more determined RSA team take the field. After a few phases of RSA attacks they found themselves on Down High’s five metre line. Excellent defensive work from the forwards in a series of scrums kept the RSA attacks at bay with Andrew McNeilly breaking off the scrum on several occasions to deny their number eight any room to manoeuvre. RSA eventually knocked the ball on from a ruck which allowed Robin Wilson to clear his line relieving the pressure. RSA quickly took the ball but it was turned over by the Down forwards. From the ruck came a good pass from William McNamara to Wilson who broke through RSA’s line with some great footwork. After a few phases of play William Browne found the ball in his hands and ran for the line to give Down there fourth try. Once again Wilson provided the extras.
Down Highs fifth and final try started from a good take by Alexander Martin which allowed Wilson to kick clear. Zac Fisher hunted down the ball applying pressure to the RSA winger who dropped the ball. Fisher pounced on the ball setting up the ruck. Robin again broke through RSA’s line gaining more territory for the Down men but while trying to offload in a tackle the ball was intercepted. A determined Wilson gets up and tackles the ball carrier and turns over the ball. Quick hands see the ball in full back Jack Carlisle’s hands who showed pace and great footwork to beat four RSA defenders to give Down there fifth and final try. Wilson once again puts two more points on the board. Another excellent team performance sees Down High School’s U14s retain their unbeaten record for another week. Man of the match, Jack Carlisle. Final score DHS 31 – RSA 0
Grosvenor U14 17 -19 Down High U14
On Saturday, Down High School U14s travelled to Grosvenor Grammar School knowing they would be in for a tough, physical test. The conditions were very wet and slippery, but that did not stop the two teams from giving their all.
The first whistle blew with an excellent kick from Down. Grosvenor’s flanker took the catch well and went straight into contact setting up the first phase. They won the ruck and managed to put the ball through the hands of the back line out to the winger who made a strong and fast run until Down’s Jack Carlise made the hit to take him down. Play continued with Grosvenor’s forwards running hard and making yards putting the Down defence to the test. The ball was moved to Grosvenor’s 8 who broke the line, but luckily Down’s inside-center Ronan Patterson read his foot steps and just about grabbed his jersey to bring him down. However, Grosvenor’s forwards still came strong to eventually carry the ball over the line for the first points of the game. The kick was not converted.
At the restart, Down received the ball well and went straight up into the Grosvenor half. A penalty was awarded creating further opportunities for Down as they kicked for touch. Down continued to dominate as they won the line-out, but Grosvenor were showing immense pride to prevent a score from the opposition. However, a well placed kick and chase and dive from Ronan Patterson caused the ball to trundle over the line for a try to make the score 5-5. A perfect kick from Down’s scrum half, Dan Browne, took them to a 7-5 lead.
Shortly after the restart, Down were back in Grosvenor’s 5 metre-line demonstrating good organisation and composure. A persistent and patient attack led to Down’s number 8, Luke Thompson, using his strength to dive into the corner making the score 12-5 to end the half. Unfortunately, the kick didn’t split the posts this time.
The start of the second half was dominated by a vigorous and determined Grosvenor. Their strong attack led to an early score with a successful conversion bringing the scores level at 12-12. The match was tight with both sides showing great desire to score. But it was Grosvenor who took the opportunity to move the ball wide from a scrum at the half way mark to out run Down and score under the posts. The try was not converted bringing the score to 17-12.
Down were running out of time to respond. The more physical Grosvenor were causing them problems with a minor injury for out-side centre Rhys Patterson who had to be taken off. Down encroached into the Grosvenor half with a good run from Nicholas Cleave, but he was tackled and a ruck was formed. Down’s Ronan Patterson thought fast and picked the ball up and burst down the blind side to out run the chasing Grosvenor team over the line to bring the scores level again. Browne was under pressure with a difficult kick but found his range and direction and stuck it through the posts to once again take Down into the lead. A final few phases of play saw both teams battle to the end before a beautifully placed kick from Browne and fortunate bounce of the ball led to Grosvenor hands taking the ball into touch to end the game.
Final score Down High School 19, Grosvenor Grammar School 17 making it 3 wins out of 3 for Down so far this season.