Danske Bank Schools Cup Round 2
Down High 24 Rainey Endowed 5
Ballynahinch Rugby club was the venue for the Danske Bank Schools Cup Round 2 clash between Down High School and Rainey. The two sides met in last year's competition in Round 4 with Down High narrowly winning on that occasion. Ballymacarn Park was bathed in sunlight as the teams emerged from the clubhouse but there was also a cold wind blowing down the pitch.
Down High kicked into the wind to start the game and it soon became apparent how strong the breeze was as the Rainey outhalf used it to great effect to play his team deep into Down High Territory. The visitors were first to score, on the 5 minute mark, when after a turnover at scrum, their inside centre took a pass before showing both pace and strength to run through the Down High defence and touch down. The conversion attempt drifted wide.
Down High responded well and within 5 minutes had scored a try of their own. Zac Ward touched down when he broke from a maul formed off a 5 metre lineout. Jo Bingham missed the touchline conversion but nonetheless deserved credit for the neat kick that had given his side the perfect position for the lineout.
As the half developed the Down High forwards began to show dominance both in the set piece and through some fantastic line-breaking runs. Indeed captain Nathan Gibson and young hooker Claytan Milligan both made carries that played their part in a series of impressive rugby that was extremely well finished by Zac Ward. Bingham added the extras.
The final score of the half, and arguably one of Down High's best of the season, came off a well worked lineout just outside the Rainey 22 metre line. Ultimately Elliot Evans showed great decision making skills to sear through the Rainey defence and touchdown between the posts but his efforts had been preceded by outstanding lineout work and great offloads out of the tackle by both Duncan Ross and Nathan Gibson. Bingham had no problem adding the conversion leaving the half time scoreat 19-5.
In the second half Down High, through the boot of Patrick Browne, who had stepped in to replace injured captain Ross Carlisle, made the most of the strong wind to continually pin Rainey back into their own half. This coupled with attention to detail and aggressive line speed in their defence saw Down High contain any threat the battling Rainey side threw at them.
Despite the clear territorial advantage Down High had earned, their second half performance both at set piece and in open play wasn't just as clinical as in the first half. As a result they were unable to add to their points tally until 10 minutes from the end of the game when Marcus Graham, who had showed great attacking intent several times throughout the day, crossed the whitewash in the corner. His try came off a solid scrum on the opposite side of the the field, followed by a well worked backs move that got the home side over the gain-line before some neat handling to put him away in space. Bingham missed the conversion but at that stage the result was beyond doubt and a few moments later the final whistle blew to the delight of the boys in green and their large support.
Down High have now drawn Coleraine Inst at home in Round 3 of the competition. Decisions have yet to be made about where this fixture will take place but Down High will be in confident mood wherever it is played following this strong Round 2 performance.
Danske Bank Schools Cup Round 2
Down High 18 - 8 Bangor Grammar