A big congratulations goes to our U14 squad who made it to the semi-final stages of the RBAI U14 tournament on Thursday. The tournament featured all the best schools in the province and getting to the last four was a major achievement. In the group games which were 20 minutes long, the Down boys beat Methody (7-0) and Ballyclare (10-0) to top their group before drawing Ballymena Academy in the semis. The Co. Antrim side are reputed to be the strongest side at this age group in Ulster and showed their class beating Down by three scores to nil before going on to defeat RBAI three scores to one in the overall final.
Down High U14's 6 - 0 RBAI U14's
As former US president Abraham Lincoln once said "All good things come to those who wait", and so it was for the Down High under 14 team, when on a bright Thursday afternoon in Belfast, they defeated the mighty RBAI in a hard fought and tight contest. The Down High boys secured a six points to nil win with all points coming for dependable boot of captain Patrick Browne.
Having lost on the previous two trips to RBAI, the boys in green knew that they have to put in a very special performance and dig deep, if they were going to upset one of the top school teams in Ulster. The challenge was set.
From the outset the Down High pack played as if their lives depended on victory, with every scrum, maul and ruck feeling the full force of the front three of Rickard, Milligan and Harper. The boys gave particular effort to the scrums resulting in a number of turnovers by Down High. The back row boys of Lewis Canning, Matthew Porter and Zac Ward performed superbly and as opposed to leading from the front, these boys led from the back. Solid performances were also put in by the second row boys Yim and Ross.
Two early penalties conceded by RBAI provided Down High with an opportunity to take an early lead, which they held onto for the entire match. Neither kicks were easy, but their conversions were vital in giving the Down High boys the confidence that they could return home with a win.
As ever, the Down High back line of Hitchens, Dougherty, McCoubrey and Graham was resolute in its attack and defence with William Annett coming close to scoring early in the second half, as a result of the delightful quick hands of scrum half Terry Hutley, who took a bloody nose on behalf of the team.
Solid tackling from the Down High backs has become somewhat of a trademark of this team. The defensive performance by the backs in the last ten minutes undoubtedly saved Down High from conceding a late try, which if converted, would have resulted in a completely different outcome. However, when the final whistle blew, the Down High boys, along with coaches and parents, were ecstatic. This team had just secured a memorable victory.
A big thank you from the Down High boys is due to the U14 coaches, Mr. Simpson, Mr. Cairns and Mr. Knox. This win was for you Sirs!
Man of the match: The Down High XV
Match report by Marcus Graham.
Down High complete successful Junior Rugby Tour
On a crisp Wednesday morning, 44 boys and 5 staff gathered at Down High School to embark on a 3 day / 2 night rugby tour to North West England. After an uneventful crossing to Cairnryan and a 4 hour bus journey to Lancaster, the touring party arrived at Lancaster Royal Grammar School for their first set of fixtures. The Under 14s were faced with a team which were physically much bigger but they did not have the same skills as the Down team won 32-10 with Marcus Graham scoring a remarkable four tries. The Under 13s were also victorious with a scoreline of 32-5. This game was decided in the first half with the boys in green scoring 5 tries. Unfortunately they lost Daniel Millington (fractured arm) and man of the match Ronan Patterson (ear injury) which ended their playing tour. A tired tour party eventually arrived at their hotel and the day finished with a bit of relaxation time in the hotel.
Day 2 began with a hearty breakfast and a bus journey to the brand new Salford City Stadium where the group were able to see behind the scenes of a professional Rugby Union and Rugby League set up. An added bonus was being able to see the Salford City Reds train on the main pitch.
The group then made their way to Liverpool to face Merchant Taylor’s Grammar School. Once again the Under 14s were faced with a physical side but once again Down High emerged victorious by a score of 66-5. Claytan Milligan was awarded man of the match. The Under 13s faced stiffer opposition than the day before but still emerged victorious 17-0. Alexander Martin put in an outstanding forward display and Bailey Thomas scored the try of the tour in this match. This result showed the strength of the Under 13 squad with three of the usual starters absent through injury and illness. The evening was spent tenpin bowling at the Trafford Centre.
Day 3 began with another visit to the Trafford Centre but this time for the boys to indulge in a little retail therapy. The long journey home then started and with a stop at the Gretna outlet centre, the coach eventually rolled into Downpatrick on Friday to mark the end of a successful tour.
Tour organiser Mr Maurice Irvine commented “Special thanks must go to the two schools for hosting us and the efforts made to make us feel very welcome. Credit must also go to the whole touring party on how they conducted themselves throughout the tour with many people commenting on how polite and courteous they were. The boys were certainly excellent ambassadors for Down High School”
Down High U14 Select 15 - Methodist College Belfast U14 Select 5
On a crisp Saturday morning the Down High boys travelled up to Belfast where they would play a well drilled Methody side.
Down High, under the instructions of coaches Mr Simpson and Mr Cairns started out with plenty of aggression and hard attacking play from the pack left Down High camped in the opposition 22. Strong carries from Matthew Porter, Thomas McGarry and Lewis Canning brought Down High up to the 5 metre line. The forwards kept chipping away at the defence and great vision from Terry Hutley spotted a gap in the defence to score the first try of the game.
After Down High's first try the game began to open out as Methody began to pressurise the Down High defence. However great tackles from Kaho Yim and the rest of the team ensured that the ball was turned over and possession stolen back for Down High.
Captain Johnny Mccoubrey was in inspired form making numerous line breaks using his pace and quick feet. The first of Mccoubrey's line breaks resulted in him offloading to Harry Hitchens who dived in to score Down High's second.
The Down High defence was finally broken down as the half time whistle neared and left the half time score at 10 - 5 to the Down High boys.
Methody had made numerous substitutions at half time but to no avail. Organisation of the backs from Matthew Dougherty and organisation of the forwards from Matthew Porter ensured that Down High successfully defended their line. Both teams were trying to gain a territorial advantage with great kicks from Matthew Dougherty and Jonny Mccoubrey. Meanwhile every Methody kick was swept up by the impressive Andrew McCullough. The game continually kept the supporters on their feet and another line break from Mccoubrey lead to Lewis Canning using his pace to dive over for the final try of the game. Man of the match was awarded to Jonny Mccoubrey.
Down High U14 A's 52-7 Banbridge Academy U14 A's
Down travelled to Banbridge looking to start the New Year with a win. Banbridge had beaten a weakened Down High team last season and this made winning all the more important.
Paddy Browne began the first half with a drop-kick deep into the Banbridge pack which was taken and carried well. As the two teams were just back from a Christmas break, they both had trouble holding onto the ball at the beginning of the match. This soon disappeared as the players got back into the swing of things.Marcus Graham was the first to score for Down, after smart off-loading skills from his fellow backs Jonny McCoubrey and William Annett. Browne converted this score.
Graham scored another try after a great break from Zac Ward who was only metres away from the try line when he was tackled brilliantly by a Banbridge player who had managed to catch the explosive flanker. Marcus had followed this play and was there to take the ball from Ward and power over the line for Down High's second try. Paddy Browne soon converted making the score 14-0.
Banbridge kept up the pressure and they played well on the ball as well. Their pressure paid off especially at scrum time when their pack had the edge on a lot of the scrums during the match. But the Down High forwards were dominant in rucks, turning over possession with great rucking from Matthew Porter and Lewis Canning in particular.
Harry Hitchens scored his opening try of the season after a couple of phases from the Down pack. Browne failed to convert but they were beginning to build up a comfortable lead against the home side.
The tries kept coming as Jonny McCoubrey got over the line for Down's fifth try and Browne converted.The half concluded with Banbridge slowly making ground towards the opposition's try line. A smart move from the Banbridge backs, which caught the Down High defence off guard, resulted in their first score.
Down High started the second half strongly with Marcus Graham scoring his third try of the match after brilliant vision from Paddy Browne, who spotted a gap at the back and used his accurate kicking skills to place the ball just into Banbridge's 22, which gave Marcus an easy pick up and another score.
Banbridge didn't give up though, still trying to battle their way through the Down back line. But aggressive tackling from Down High, in particular Claytan Milligan and Jonny McCoubrey, meant that Banbridge couldn't get over for another score. This heavy tackling eventually paid off with Paddy Browne completely startling his opposite number with a dummy pass and scoring another try for Down right underneath the posts. He converted his well earned try and the score 38-7.
Down High kept up the pressure and they soon found themselves on the opposition's 5 metre line, going through phase after phase with strong carries from Mathew Porter and Zac Ward. This soon resulted in the Down backs spreading the ball wide to winger, Harry Hitchens for his second score.
As the match came to an end centre Jonny McCoubrey made a break up the wing and off-loaded to Marcus Graham leading to the final try of the match which Zac Ward converted.
Man of the match : Jonny McCoubrey.
Down High U14XV -24 Sullivan Upper U14XV -0
Down High came to Sullivan with a very positive attitude due to their previous victorious match against Sullivan. This allowed Down to play with an intensity and aggression rarely shown with this team. From the kick off into Sullivan's arms, every man stepped up to the mark and played with outstanding pace and skill throughout for Down.
The kick off landed straight into Sullivan's prop's arms, and with great bravery, it was Thomas McGarry to make the opening tackle. For this was the benchmark Down were going to play at for the full 60 minutes. Down had been well drilled with tackling and rucking technique over the 2 previous weeks and this certainly payed off. Sullivan had a far much larger pack than Down, despite the weight disadvantage, Down have a great spirit when playing on the pitch. Every number from 1-8, showed their strength not just in the scrums but out in the line with the backs. From the very first scrum, our pack dominated. Pushing back everything that was thrown at them. Great tackling off the scrum and in the line from Lewis Canning, freed the ball for the backs to play with.
Down's line-out was only the thing that could be questioned in this game and the failure to contest for the ball led to powerful runs from Sullivan's pack and blazing speed from their wingers. Down were certainly not being pushed around in the scrums, but in the line was a different story. Despite big hits from Matthew Dougherty, Paddy Browne and Jonny McCoubrey the backs were needing assistance from the forwards. Great kicking from William Annett and Dougherty allowed the Down boys to push up to the line. Big runs from Sam Rickard got Down to the oppositions line, well finished off by the forwards and the backs. The ball was certainly shared around the team with fast runs from Harry Hitchens and aggressive handoffs from Zac Ward. A strong and tight maul was formed and the strong legs of Matthew Porter and Lewis Canning managed to drive it a good 25 yards. In the end Down High managed to put 24 points over Sullivan, with Sullivan not quite reaching the Down line! Tries from Kaho Yim, Claytan Milligan and William Annett.
Man of the match Lewis Canning.
DHS 61- REGENT 12
Report by Marcus Graham
Down High’s terrific trio of Clatyan Milligan, Zac Ward and Marcus Graham each scored a hat-trick of tries as Down High’s U14 string had little difficulty against Regent Grammar. There were four tries from Milligan, 3 from Ward and 3 from Graham, as Down High, dominant throughout, coasted to a 61-12 win.
The opening try had come as early as the ninth minute, opening the floodgates for an impressive 5 try first half spree. Graham finished off a move begun by Browne and featuring some deft work by McCoubrey as the link. Milligan’s first try was a break that left the Regent team stunned by his pace and after Graham chased down a couple of kicks over the defence of Regent resulting in 2 tries. Captain Browne converted 2 of the tries, as Down High led into half-time 29-7.
Down High forwards started the second half where they finished off the first, dominating the rucks, mauls and scrums with numerous steals by Porter. Another great move by the Down High team finished with Ward squeezing over. The game was over as a contest. Not to be outdone by his Down High team-mates McCoubrey caught a dose of white line fever to score his first of the match. Browne converted.
Milligan’s best surge of the game resulted in his last try of the game. Further tries in the second half by Ward, using his footwork skills, gave Down High a very convincing win, which helped to regain the confidence of the Down High team after their tight defeat against Friends.
Man of the match; Marcus Graham
Down High U14’s........55 Sullivan Upper U14’s...0
On a mild September morning, the Down High boys got stuck in to Sullivan Upper, in what turned out to be a fantastic game of rugby. Spirits were on a high as the boys had won all their previous games this season and were definitely wanting to keep that clean slate.
The game kicked off at a reasonable pace and as the intensity began to escalate second Row Thomas McGarry did not feel well enough to play He was replaced by the able by Kaho Yim. The rearranged pack made plenty of clean ball available for the backs to work with leading to plentiful scores throughout the game.
The forwards worked as a complete unit the whole game. Never missing a tackle and driving through the Sullivan opposition from the front. Great runs from Wingers, Marcus and Angus left the Sullivan boys chasing their tails. The pack also got their hands on the ball with strong and powerful runs from Claytan Milligan and Lewis Canning. Big hits from the back row were sending Sullivan back towards their line throughout. Tries in the first half came from Claytan Milligan, Marcus Graham and Johnny McCoubrey.
The second half started off with a kick that landed straight in Rory Horder’s hands, Sullivan put up a good defence but as Down high spread the ball wide within minutes and scored a great try from William Annett who made a strong run and broke two tackles. After a few minutes of defending Down built on their lead with a try from Angus Ferris which was converted by Paddy Browne. The ball was then passed to Claytan Milligan who handed off a number of Sullivan players to run and score under the post to get his second try wich was again converted by Browne.
A strong run by Johnny McCoubrey led to his second try of the match which was also converted Browne. The team thought this was the last of the tries to be scored but with a late run by Matthew Porter Down high gained one more.
Men of the match Claytan Milligan and Lewis Canning
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