There are six Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round Two games scheduled to take place on Saturday.
The Royal School Dungannon will host Wellington College on the WK Armstrong pitch at the Royal School. The Dungannon team has had a difficult start to the season due injuries. However, the team worked hard under the astute coaching of Keith Patton, assisted by Gareth Lucas and Jonny Willis, to overcome their problems.
With players returning and a large number of younger players adapting to the demands of 1st XV rugby, the results have improved.
The recent win over Down High was witnessed by a visiting Wellington College coach who cannot fail but to have been impressed with the performance.
Jacob McCammond leads his team well and receives great assistance from experienced players such as David Leyland, Matthew Montgomery and Jack Milligan.
Wellington College come into the second round of the cup for the first time in recent seasons.
They went on tour to Italy at the end of October winning two games against local opposition. These results have given the squad great confidence and they will approach the game in Dungannon with a positive mindset.
Coach Peter Chambers, assisted by Gareth Montgomery and Mark O’Connor, will rely heavily on the experience of team captain Michael Hamilton who, despite being a full back, will play in the critical outhalf position.
He will have talented players such as Kier Patterson, Owen Jarvie and Josh Garnham close to hand.
This game is scheduled to kick-off at 11am.
Foyle and Londonderry College host a Portora Royal School team they have played twice already this season.
On the first occasion the Portora won with Foyle College winning the return match.
The Foyle College coaching staff of David Barnett and Ian Menown has had to overcome loss of players to injury and Interprovincial representation earlier in the season.
However they showed some great form in October when they went unbeaten for six games.
Neil Burns is an important player for the team as are Kyle Henderson, the team captain, Patrick Leeson and Ryan Curry.
RDS players such as Niall Adair and Ben Christie will be expected to put in big performances in the Cup campaign.
Portora, coached by Adrian Walker, started the season well recording good wins against Regent House, Foyle College and Belfast High School.
Since those early season wins the young Portora team has struggled somewhat.
They have a strong, mobile pack with vice-captain Oliver Gamble leading from the front. He gets good support from colleagues such as second row forward, Gary Thornton, an Irish Rower, John Clarke, son of Portora RS legend, Raymond, and Charles McClean and Eric Elliott in the back row.
In the backs, Portora players to look out for are James Stevenson, Robert Connor and Nathan Richmond.
This game is scheduled to kick off at 11am.
Belfast High School will host Banbridge Academy at the Shore Road venue, kicking off at 10.30 am.
Belfast High are a relatively young team that has recorded some excellent results in the season so far.
Lewis Benson is a very athletic second row forward who will expect to get good possession from the lineouts while Jordan Garford is a strong ball carrying centre who also has an eye for a gap. Joel McBride, son of the former Ulster and Ireland backrow forward, Denis, is a very clever outhalf, while Robbie Reid is another player who thrives with the ball.
Banbridge Academy have a number of very talented players who feel they have not really achieved the results they should have this season. Calum Boardman and Tom Carlisle are two excellent props, with Calum having already been identified as a potential Ulster U19 player next season. Ross Williamson, in the 2nd Row, has been among the try scorers for his team this season while Rory Carson and Ethan Harbinson form an effective break away trio with team captain, David McKeown. Rory is a son of cricketing legend, Jimmy, and is joined in the squad by his brother Ben. Ethan is a son of former Ulster player, Bill.
Daniel McElderry, the Banbridge Academy full back, will convert any penalty opportunities that come his way while Rory Thompson has scored a lot of tries already this season.
However, it is Aaron Kennedy, whether he plays at scrum half or outhalf, the Belfast High School defence will need to watch. Aaron has been capped at Ulster Schools’ and Ulster U19 level and is an international Schools’ cricketer.
Belfast High will see themselves as favourites to win this game but Banbridge Academy could cause an upset.
Carrickfergus Grammar will host a Lurgan College team they defeated narrowly when the two teams met earlier in the season at the North Road venue.
Coach Gareth McClintock, who is assisted by Peter Martin, realises the team is a young team but one that is full of potential.
Joel Bell is team captain and he can rely on the emerging skills of RDS players such as full back, Christian Robinson, scrum half Michael Black and second row forward, Scott Henderson. Twins, Kris and Reece Berry display a tremendous work ethic in both attack and defence while Lurgan College may wish to pay attention to the try scoring exploits of Robert O’Callaghan.
The Carrickfergus Grammar squad has worked hard in preparation for the cup campaign, travelling to Portugal for a training camp and matches.
Lurgan College will travel to Carrickfergus quietly confident they can pull off a shock result. They lost in the last minute of their previous game and the coaching staff of Neil Ross, the experienced Brian Hanna and Brian Faith, will be confident they have provided their charges with sufficient strategies to get the result they feel they are capable of.
Team captain Dean Wilson is a dynamic player who gained representative honours as an U17 player. Dean is equally at home in the back row as he is in the centre and player availability will impact on where he is selected. Mark McIlwaine is a talented centre who has been an RDS member.
The Lurgan College team is a young team, like their opponents. A lot will depend on which team can adapt to the demands of Schools’ Cup rugby on the day. This game is scheduled to kick off at 10.30am.
It will be a busy morning at Antrim Grammar School. It is the school Open Morning and the 1st XV will host Friends’ School in the Schools’ Cup (kick off 11am).
Antrim Grammar School, captained by hooker, Adam Watt, will be confident of winning the game which would see them in the draw for the thirdround of the Schools’ Cup for the first time in their history.
The draw will take at Antrim Grammar School when all results are through.
Coach, Bryan Baguely, assisted by Michael Ferguson and Randalstown RFC’s Alistair Strange, will be hoping the importance of the occasion will not impact on the performance of his young players.
They have recorded some good results this season and players such as flanker, Mark Strange, outhalf, Chris McColdrick and centre Matthew McWhinney, have been playing consistently well. The team has been boosted by the return of centre, Jamie Orr and second row, Adam Patterson, from injury. This could see the Antrim team assume the tag of favourites in this game
Friends’ have had a mixed season so far. A recent good win against Lurgan College was dampened by a number of injuries which means some experienced players will miss the Schools’ Cup game.
Team coach Stephen Robinson, who is assisted by the evergreen Norman Gamble and Chris Henderson, will be hoping the loss of a number of players to injury will not impact too seriously.
Acting captain Jack Ravey brings a degree of representative experience to the team while his vice-captain, Peter Ferguson, has played in big games for the Ireland Schools’ cricket team.
Dean Howes, Peter Simpson and Dylan Lewis have been regular try scorers in the course of the season while Zac Finlay has adapted well to the demands of senior schools’ rugby in recent games.
Regent House find themselves in the unusual position of coming into the Schools’ Cup at this stage where they host Larne Grammar School.
Regent have struggled in terms of consistency for most of the current season, although they have a number of quality players at their disposal. Scrum half, Gareth Wright, is the team captain. He has been a member of the U18 Development squad. His half back partner, Peter Eakin, is a talented player who has also excelled in his cricket career. Aaron Culbert is an exciting centre and Larne Grammar will need to monitor this trio closely.
Regent House coaches, Eric Sinnamon, Peter Lowry and Steven Cole, will see their team as clear favourites to win the game and live up to their status as favourites.
However Larne Grammar come into the game confident they can cause an upset. They have come through a Schools’ Cup game already and the experience gained could stand them in good stead. They won that game on the back of good performances from a dominant back row trio of Ethan Kerr, Connor Connolly and James Bell.
Team captain, Connor Weir, leads from the front. The back division is held together by their talented outhalf, Sam McIlwaine, who can call upon the services of the Ringland brothers, Jack and Adam, nephews of the former Ulster, Ireland and Lion’s winger, Trevor.
Team coach Jonny Lowe, who is assisted by Barry Kirkpatrick, Stephen Snoddy and Peter Dundee, knows it will be a tough task to win at the Circular Road venue. This game is scheduled to kick-off at 10.30am.