Dankse Bank Subsidiary Shield Q/F
Down High 25 – 12 Ballyclare High
Down High bounced back from their disappointing Schools Cup defeat against Belfast Royal Academy two weeks ago to record a confidence boosting win over Ballyclare High School on Saturday’s subsidiary shield quarter final in Downpatrick.
The home side got off to fantastic start when Zac Ward crashed over the line in the third minute of action, finishing off a great series of phase play that included an incisive line break by William Annett. Charlie Power added the extras.
Ballyclare narrowed the gap around 10 minutes into the half when a missed tackle in the Down High defence allowed the visitor’s inside centre to make a major break into the home side’s territory. Within a few phases after this break the boys in red had crossed the whitewash. However Down maintained their lead as the conversion attempt drifted wide.
Down responded well following the restart and good defensive work saw Ballyclare concede a penalty which Power slotted over. The Down lead didn’t last long though, when another defensive error allowed the Ballyclare inside centre another massive line break and subsequent yard gain which, despite an outstanding tackle by William Annett, eventually led to the Co. Antrim men barging over under the posts for a try that was very straightforwardly converted.
A few minutes later, Power scored another penalty for the local lads after more solid work at the breakdown. Both Power and the Ballyclare kicker did miss penalties in the 5 minutes before half time leaving Down with a slender 13-12 lead at the interval.
In the second half Down continued to be dominant up front but most importantly they also managed to resolve their defensive issues in the backline and consistently contained any Ballyclare attacks. During the half they scored two unanswered tries that were ultimately enough to seal the win.
The first of these tries came through William Annett who along with Harry Hitchens chased an excellent Johnny McCoubrey kick up field and was fortunate when the ball popped up following a tackle. Once the ball was in his hands he had a fairly straightforward run in for a try that Charlie Power had no problem converting.
With 10 minutes to go Matthew Porter, who had put in a very convincing shift all day, crashed over on the back of some patient but dominant attacking play by the home side pack. Power missed the conversion.
In the closing minutes Ballyclare did play some rugby up at the Down end but the home side defence held firm until the final whistle. Down now progress to the semi final of the shield where they will play either Rainey Endowed or Regent away on Saturday 5th March.