Down High 1st XV bounced back from their recent Schools Cup disappointment to record a comprehensive 32 -7 victory in the Schools Bowl Competition against a Portadown side that had beaten the local boys twice earlier in the season.
Down High kicked off playing into a slight breeze and had the better of the early exchanges but it was Portadown who opened the scoring on 14 minutes when they sliced through weak Down High midfield defence to touch down under the posts for a converted try and a 7 -0 lead. Down High hit back and worked their way back into the Portadown twenty two after good work from Chris Martin and from the resulting ruck Ricky Gill nipped over from 5 meters to score Down High’s opening try. Justin Rea added the conversion to level the scores. Down High further increased their lead just before half time when they moved the ball left from a scrum on half way and Luc Bonnargent made an excellent break fending off several would be tacklers before releasing Luca Rea to finish off an excellent move in the right hand corner. Justin Rea landed the conversion and Down High took a 14 – 7 lead into the interval.
In the second half Down High had the breeze in their favour and took advantage to keep Portadown pinned in their own half. With 45 minutes gone Justin Rea increased the lead with a well struck penalty from 40 meters and 5 minutes later added a second after Portadown were penalised 30 meters out to the left of the posts, taking the score to 20 – 7. Portadown hit back and put together several phases to work their way deep into the Down High twenty two but the visitors defence held solid and when it looked like Portadown may have created a scoring opportunuity in the corner Luca Rea intercepted a potentially scoring pass and showed good pace to sprint 70 meters to score his second try in the corner and take the score to 25 – 7 with 5 minutes remaining on the clock. Down High played controlled rugby to run down the clock but were still able to extend their lead further when, with the last play of the match, Justin Rea received quick ball from a ruck 10 meters out and cut through to score a try to the right of the posts. Rea converted his own try to take his personal tally to 17 points and leave the final score 32 – 7.
This was a much improved performance by the Down High boys with Thomas Donnan, Ben Hale and Tommy McConnell prominent and they now face Belfast Royal Academy in the Schools Bowl semi-final at Roughfort next Saturday.