Down High 14 - 12 Ballymena Academy
Down High U14s held out for a narrow victory over Ballymena Academy in Downpatrick on Saturday. The two sides had played out a very close encounter the previous season and this game followed a similar course going down the last act of play.
Daniel Reid scored the first try for the hosts with a mazey run up the pitch. Luca Walsh added the conversion. Ballymena drew level in the last play of the first half after Down High failed to deal well with a kick into their 22 and the visitors barged over under the posts for a converted try.
It was stalemate for much of the second half with both defences cancelling out the attacking threats of their opponents. However with 6 minutes to go Jakob Cross showed great strength and pace to carve his way through the Co. Antrim defence to touch down for a score which Walsh then converted.
The final few minutes were dramatic as Down High won a scrum against the head in their own 22. With the threat of a last minute score seemingly eliminated, things took a turn for the worse when the attempted clearance kick was charged down and Ballymena won the foot race to the ball for a try. With this being the last play of the game all the pressure was on the 'Mena kicker to draw the game level. However, much to the jubilation of the home side, the kick drifted wide of the uprights securing the victory for boys in green.
The U14s played some fantastic team rugby to record a 29-10 win at Grosvenor. Charlie Gibson managed the game exceptionally well from out half while forwards like captain William Orr, prop Ben Gibson and second row Matthew Hunter all guaranteed plenty of front foot ball. In the backs Reuben Dickson, Jakob Cross and Jonathan Graham all crossed the whitewash to contribute to a fine points tally. In addition to all the fine attacking rugby the side also showed great spirit, physicality and organisation in defence to contain the significant threat posed by Grosvenor.
Down High Under 13s started the New Year with a convincing 49-10 victory away to Banbridge Academy. Down got out of the traps superbly and scored four unanswered tries in fifteen minutes through Jonny Graham (2), William Orr and Luka Walsh. Walsh converted all four of the tries. The Mount Crescent boys were relentless in their intensity and scored two further converted tries through Reuben Dickson and Josh Hanlon to give a halftime score of 42-0.
As was to be expected the boys in green took their foot off the gas and allowed Banbridge back into the game. Although man of the match Josh Hanlon did manage to score another try which was converted by Walsh. A couple of consolation scores by the home side left the final score 49-10.
Down High Under 13As clinched a memorable victory at Ballymena Academy with a last gasp try from Jonny Graham. Down got out of the blocks early and scored through centre Reuben Dickson but as in recent weeks the boys in green conceded quickly after and by halftime were trailing 12-5.
A few harsh words at halftime did the trick as Down were a team transformed. They tackled with greater intensity and after some good work by the backs, Aidan McCauley was on hand to score with Luca Walsh adding the extras to make the scores level. Just when it looked as if the match was going to end all square a great run from Matthew Hunter saw quick ball moved to that man Graham who made no mistake. Walsh added the extras from the touchline to complete a fine victory!
The Bs unfortunately lost to a strong Ballymena B team but it was good to see 32 boys willing to make the journey to Ballymena on a Saturday morning.
Down High Under 13s 7 Campbell College Under 13s 17
Down High Under 13s were beaten by a well drilled Campbell College team at a soggy Swamp. Down struck first when an excellent turnover by Daniel Reid saw the ball moved to speedster Jonny Graham to score under the posts, Luca Walsh converted. Campbell responded immediately from the kick off with an unconverted try to leave the score 7-5 in favour of the home team.
The second half was played mostly in the middle third of the pitch with Campbell having the majority of possession. Halfway through the half their possession told when their flanker barged over in the corner to score another unconverted try. A 10-7 scoreline would maybe have been more reflective of the game but a tiring Down defence conceded a try under the posts with the last play of the game to see the Belfast team claim the spoils.
This was a fine display from the boys in green. They can take heart that they competed well with one of the top sides in Ulster Schools rugby.
A squad of 23 travelled to Portadown and recorded a 43-5 victory with tries from man of the match Daniel Reid, Jakob Cross, Joel McKibben and a hat trick from Jonny Graham. Luca Walsh converted three of the tries and Charlie Gibson one.
A spirited Under 13 team lost to a strong Armagh side. Jonny Graham gave the men in green the lead before Armagh took a 7-5 lead just before half time. A try with the last play of the game saw the team from the Orchard county return with a 12-5 win.
32 players travelled to Sullivan on Saturday morning. The B team won 35-0 with tries from Adam Leckey (2), Aidan McCauley, Oliver Henry and Jack McCartan. Joel McKibben converted all five tries.
The A team lost 33-7 with Fergal Mooney scoring the try.
Down High Under 13s welcomed Grosvenor to the Swamp on Saturday and recorded a fine victory. The game started with the visitors having a prolonged period of possession but Down’s defence stood firm and they repelled any attacks. Once the home side got the hold of the ball they made it count with a fine try from Jonny Graham. He collected the ball at pace just inside his own half and broke the line to score under the posts. Luka Walsh converted. Grosvenor replied straight away as they sucked in the Down defence and took advantage by spreading the ball wide for the winger to score a converted try. This left the halftime score at 7-7.
Down didn’t get out of the blocks in the second half and a missed tackle in midfield cost them dearly as Grosvenor scored to take a 12-7 lead. However Down rallied and with man of the match Charlie Gibson pulling the strings from out half they managed to make their way into the opposition 22 and after a number of phases, flanker Shea Preston crossed for an unconverted try. The next score was going to be vital and Down found themselves on the front foot again and that man Graham was on hand to finish off a fine passage of play to score. Walsh again converted. There was to be one last twist when the Grosvenor winger thought he’d scored a late try but he mistook the 5 metre line for the try line much to the home side’s relief.
This result showed a marked improvement from the corresponding fixture last season and the team deserves full credit for putting into practice what they have learnt in training.
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