Danske Bank Subsidiary Shield, Quarter Finals:
Down High 25 Bangor Grammar 3
Down High responded to their agonising exit from the Schools Cup by recording a convincing 25-3 victory over Bangor Grammar in the Quarter Finals of the Subsidiary Shield on Saturday in Downpatrick.
Conditions were ideal for running rugby and from the outset Down High showed attacking intent, moving the ball well and stringing phases of play together very successfully. This early pressure soon presented a scoring opportunity when a penalty was awarded after a Bangor infringement at the ruck but Jo Bingham's kick drifted wide of the posts.
As the half developed Down High began to gain the upper hand at set piece and were also making more line breaks with players like Ross Carlisle, Zac Ward and Rory Kerr all making noticeable carries into Bangor territory. On the 15 minute mark all the Down High pressure led to a score when captain, Nathan Gibson showed great strength to run in from 10 metres out, shrugging off two tacklers in the process and stretching over the line for an unconverted try.
A few minutes later Down High extended their lead by 3 points when Bingham slotted a penalty. Rory Kerr had made another incisive break and after he was tackled one of the Bangor arriving players at the breakdown went off their feet.
Bangor did up their game in the closing 10 minutes of the first half and with the help of some lacklustre Down High defence made a few decent breaks up field including one from their own 22. They did manage to reduce the deficit to 5 points on the 25 minute mark when their full back landed a long range penalty after a Down High tackler had failed to roll away from the tackle area. This left the score at 8-3 going into half time.
In the second half Down High notched their efforts up a gear, especially in defence. Within three minutes of the restart they had forced an error in Bangor's handling and from the resultant scrum Thomas Forson made a break before offloading to Bingham who touched down out wide but missed the difficult conversion.
A few moments later Nathan Gibson crossed the line for a second time but was called back by the ref who had deemed himself to have obstructed the Bangor defence. Down High did get a 5 metre scrum from this but Bangor successfully thwarted the attack that followed. However it wasn't long until Down High were back in scoring mode. After stringing together a number of phases that included a decisive carry by Duncan Ross, Zac Ward ultimately showed superb heart and channelled aggression to fight his way through three defenders and reach for an unconverted try.
Having notched up two tries in reasonably quick succession, the scoreboard slowed up for a 15 minute period. This included a missed penalty attempt by Bingham. However given that Down High also lost a man to a yellow card for repeated infringements at the breakdown during this period, the home side will have been happy not to have had their lead reduced.
With 5 minutes to go Down High put the icing on the cake when Jo Bingham made a scintillating break from just inside his own half. He was stopped around the opposition 22 where Down High proceeded to move the ball through a number of forward moving phases including another impressive Ward carry. In a fitting end to this passage of play Bingham took a pass and ran in for a try which he converted himself. This left the full time score at 25-3 in favour of the home side.
Down High have now drawn Regent away in the semi finals of the competition. This tie will be played on Saturday 7th March (KO TBC).