The Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup quarter-final game featuring Royal Belfast Academical Institution and Methodist College, Belfast was played in front of a huge crowd of enthusiastic supporters at Osbourne Park.
The game, billed as the “Match of the Day”, was won narrowly by 8-6 by Methody. However, it was RBAI that controlled both territory and possession for large parts of the game and, in many ways, will be wondering how they managed to lose the game?
They started the game strongly and took play deep into the Methody 22m on a number of occasions, early in the game.
Rory Bell and Rory Campbell were at the centre of all that was positive from the Inst attack and the Methody defence seemed to be struggling at this stage.
This pressure presented the home team with the opportunity to take the lead 10 minutes into the game but a penalty kick attempt was missed.
inst had a second attempt some 12 minutes later but, once again, the penalty kick was missed.
This seemed to give Methody a degree of confidence and they took play into Inst territory with their driving maul tactic paying dividends.
The Methody backline, on occasions, was able to ask questions of the Inst defence but found that Rory Bell, Rory Campbell and Frazer Wright were in no mood to let anything through.
That was until the 33 minute of the first half when another Methody driven maul, with Michael Lagan, Steven Weir and Alex Thompson playing leading roles, was held up over the Belfast Inst line.
Methody won the resultant scrum with their backrow going through a number of pick and drives. Quick ball was eventually produced which was used wisely by Josh Bingham.
He produced a great pass to put Conor McKee in for an unconverted try and give his team a 5-0 lead at the break.
Inst continued to dominate proceedings in the opening exchanges of the second half and this early pressure paid off.
Methody were penalised and Frazer Wright was successful with his penalty kick to reduce the arrears to 5-3, five minutes into the second half.
Their backline was attacking at every opportunity with inside centre, Rory Bell, causing problems for the Methody defence.
His hard work led to another Methody infringement but, somehow, the resultant kick was missed.
However, Methody infringed from the restart and Frazer Wright was successful with his kick to give his team a deserved 6-5 lead 16 minutes into the second half.
However, this did not seem to faze Methody. They took play deep into Belfast Inst territory with Ireland U19 centre, Conor McKee, causing problems for the home team defence.
His sublime off-load almost led to a Methody try. The Inst defence held them out but were penalised for a player working from an off-side position.
Josh Bingham converted the penalty to put his team into a somewhat unlikely 8-6 lead going into the final quarter of the game.
Inst attacked at every opportunity but missed two further penalty opportunities which could have won the game.
However, it was not to be for Inst. Instead, it was the Methodist College team that celebrated their hard earned Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Quarter-Final victory.