SCHOOLS’ CUP RUGBY: Holders RBAI through to successive finals after win over Ballymena Academy

RBAI  Pierce McLernon   and Ballymena Academy Christoper McLeister
RBAI Pierce McLernon and Ballymena Academy Christoper McLeister

RBAI 27 BALLYMENA ACADEMY 19

RBAI will have the chance to win the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup back to back for the first time since 1948 after they booked their place in the St Patrick’s Day final with victory over Ballymena Academy at Kingspan Stadium.

Dan Soper’s side outscored Ballymena by four tries to three and will play the winners of this afternoon’s clash between Dalriada and Campbell.

Ballymena had dominated the opening quarter and finally made their territorial advantage count.

From a penalty they kicked to touch, the forwards set up a driving maul, flanker Jonathan McKeown had a probing run the ball was recycled No 8 Azur Allison carried closed to the line before prop David Forsythe barged over from a metre out with out half Bruce Houston converting.

However the lead was short lived as Inst hit back two minutes later.

Ballymena had a good attacking position on half way but scrum half Michael Stronge had his pass intercepted by David Whitten and the No8 raced over from 50 metres and centre James Hume converted.

Inst took the lead on 26 minutes with their second try, Hume made a break he fed scrum half Rhys O’Donnell and he put winger Conor Field clear to score but Hume couldn’t convert.

Inst got a third try on 34 minutes, from a scrum ODonnell made a break his winger Mark Keane came on the loop to take the ball into midfield and he put out half Michael Lowry clear to score, Hume converted to give Inst a 19-7 lead at the break but missed a penalty with the last kick of the first half.

Inst got their fourth try seven minutes after the restart, Ballymena lost a lineout deep in their own half due to an overthrow, Inst move Inst moved the ball the width of the pitch with Hume fixing the defence before putting Keane over in the corner for an unconverted touchdown.

Ballymena were given some hope when they got their second try with 15 minutes remaining, the forwards worked the ball through the phases close to the line creating an overlap before it was spun wide and full back Mark Thompson went over unopposed but Houston failed to convert.

Hume landed a penalty three minutes later to give the Belfast side a 15 point lead.

Ballymena gave themselves a life line with a third try when lock Christopher McLeiseter went over from close range with Houston converting, John Andrews team finished the game camped in the Inst 22 but the eight point gap proved too big a mountain to climb.

RBAI

J Finnegan, C Field, J Hume, B McGavock, M Keane, M Lowry, R O’Donnell; C Reid, N Saulters, J Dickson, H Gallagher, P McLernon, C Fryers, C Cloke, D Whitten

Replacements: B Gribben, J Chambers, C Barrett, B Robinson, Y Omar, N Armstrong, D Lyttle, Z Davidson,

Ballymena Academy: M Thompson, C Cosgrove, A Small, A Kernohan, C Gallagher, B Houston, M Stronge; D Forsythe, A Clarke, J Bill, O Jordan, C McLeister, M Rea, J McKeown, A Allison

Replacements: J Gocher, T Savoury, S Agnew, M Moody, J McLean, C Barkley, J Foster C Agnew

Ref O Quinn