Down High 1st XV fell to a 33-5 defeat against a well polished Ballyclare High side in their Danske Bank Schools Cup 4th round tie. Despite some periods of fantastic team play and a number of superb individual performances the County Down side were outplayed by their classy opponents.
Ballyclare dominated proceedings in the first half and had built up a 26-5 lead by halftime. The visitors opened the scoring when their impressive captain, Jonny Darling, picked up from the base of a scrum won against the head and crashed over the Down High School line for a try. Jack Irvine converted the try to put the Ballyclare High School team into a 7-0 lead.
The Down High School team responded almost immediately and took play deep into Ballyclare territory. Following a series of picks and drives the Down High School prop forward, Nathan Gibson, eventually scrambled over for an unconverted try which reduced the arrears to 7-5.
Midway through the half Jonny Darling scored his second try of the game when he took advantage of good work from his fellow forwards to touch down under the Down High School posts. Jack Irvine converted the try to extend the Ballyclare High School lead to 14-5. The visitors then scored two tries just before the interval. Jack Irvine put a superb kick into the Down High School corner. From the resultant lineout, David Allen stole the ball and crashed over for an unconverted try.
Now leading by 19-5, the Ballyclare team really sealed the game on the stroke of halftime when, Man of the Match, Jonny Darling completed his hat trick of tries. Jack Irvine converted the try to put the Ballyclare High School team into a comfortable 26-5 half time lead.
To their credit the Down boys started the second half strongly and asked questions of the Ballyclare High School defence. Unfortunately for them they found the Ballyclare defence to be well-organised and in a mood to give nothing away. The home team also gave away a number of penalties which assisted the Ballyclare team in clearing the danger.
The only try of the second half was scored by the Ballyclare High School flanker, Jordan McKinstry. Jordan took advantage of a turnover ball won by his midfield defence to run in for the try. Jack Irvine was, once again, successful with his conversion kick to ensure a Ballyclare High School win.
Whilst obviously disappointed with the result the Down boys left the field knowing they had performed well in certain aspects of their play and with very clear ideas about areas that need developed as they move forward. The focus of their attention now turns to the Subsidiary Shield fixture on Saturday 23rd February when they will play either Dalriada Grammar or Limavady Grammar at home.