Down High Under 13s made the journey to Belfast on Saturday morning knowing they faced their toughest test of the season. The match was played in perfect conditions and from the start Belfast Inst played with a level of intensity that the Down boys had not faced this season. The Belfast schools early dominance was rewarded with a try in the corner by their winger and after this the Down side suffered another blow when hooker Rory Horder had to leave the action injured.
However this Down High team has great character and for the next 15 mins they played probably their best rugby of the season. Excellent work by Marcus Graham led to a few phases of play towards the Belfast Inst line. Eventually Down were awarded a penalty 5 metres from the line and quick thinking by Paddy Browne led to second row and man of the match Lewis Canning scoring a try which Browne converted. Not long after, superb work from the forwards allowed Down to move the ball wide to winger Angus Ferris who showed his opposite number a clean pair of heels to score under the posts. Browne converted to give Down a 14-7 lead coming up to halftime. Unfortunately a number of offside infringements saw Belfast Inst able to get territorial advantage and they managed to score a converted try with the last play of the half to level the scores.
The second half began with the Down boys in control of possession but some elementary mistakes led to Belfast Inst turning over the ball and driving their way towards the Down line. Sterling defence saw the Belfast Inst team pushed into touch but they managed to steal the resulting line out and score a try to put them in the lead. Down never recovered from this and although they had a number of promising passages of play in the 2nd half they continued to make basic errors and gave away a number of soft penalties. This allowed Belfast Inst to score two further tries to seal a 35-14 victory.
The Down team can take a number of positives from this performance and know that they can compete with one of the strongest rugby schools.