SCHOOLS CUP FINAL: Soper hails "Special Group"

RBAI players and supporters celebrate the Schools' Cup victory at Kingspan Stadium.

RBAI players and supporters celebrate the Schools' Cup victory at Kingspan Stadium.

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Dan Soper hailed a special group players as RBAI completed a hat trick of School’s Cup winners with a 12-8 victory over Belfast rivals Methody in the St Patrick’s day decider at Kingspan.

It was the first time in 69 years that Inst have completed a hat trick of titles.

“We haven’t talked a great deal about it but just at the end of the game David Hasslett handed me a piece of paper which has all sorts of stats and numbers about how significant it is,” said Soper.

“We made a point of not discussing three in a row. This was this cup and it was for this team to win this cup and we can look at the guys that have been here for three in a row and how significant it’s been, it’s not easily done. It is fantastic and speaks of the core of those six guys who have been in the squad for three years.

"They have won three in a row and that’s not easy. You look at the super star of Ulster rugby and Paddy Jackson has never done it with good teams so it is a feather in the cap for Michael and his crew.”

Inst went 12-0 up after 23 minutes but didn’t score for the rest of the game.

“It was another nail biter," added Soper, "All we kept hearing in the lead up was it was going to be pretty straight forward but people don’t appreciate that any game between Inst and Methody is always tight.

“We knew it was going to be tough and a lot of people didn’t understand that it was never going to be one way traffic. Methody showed they are an excellent team and we just had to hang in to win by a narrow margin but we’ll take it.”

Despite the result, Soper admitted he was disappointed that Inst never kicked on after that positive opening period.

“I thought we did leave a few opportunities out there. We were creating space and maybe just didn’t pass the ball as much, or as well, as we would have liked.

"In the second half we were hanging on at times. We made line breaks that weren’t clinical enough. In the semi against Ballymena we were turning those line breaks into five or seven points.”