Methody see off Wallace to seal place in Schools’ Cup final

Methody produced a dominant second half display in the Kingspan Stadium spring sunshine to storm into the St Patrick’s Day School’s Cup final at the expense of their Belfast rivals RBAI.

The game was in the balance at half time with Methody holding a slender 22-15 lead, but the winners scored 21 unanswered points after the break and will face the winners of this afternoon’s second semi-final between Campbell College and Wallace High School in the decider.

After the break with Covid Methody coach Nicky Wells felt it was special to reach this year’s final.

“You still feel sorry for the likes of Wallace and Royal School Armagh who didn’t get to play out the final,” he said.

Methodist College coach Nicky Wells.

“With all the work these guys have put in during lockdown one and lockdown two with their strength and conditioning over zoom calls it is great that they get out here and it is great that there is a big crowd, and it is fantastic for them.”

Despite the final scoreline have a one-sided look Wells thought it didn’t tell the whole story.

“We will come away having played Inst with lots of things to work on for the final and they highlighted a few problems we have there,” he said.

“We were glad to get out onto a full-size Kingspan pitch with a decent bit of weather. Everyone has had the same problem but playing in the howling wind and rain hasn’t suited this side, so it was just good to get on a firm track and play a bit of rugby.

“The backline have been hampered a wee bit by the weather since Christmas and it was great to see them click out there.

“We have recently moved Ben McFarlane from 12 into 15 and we have moved Lorcan Hanratty off the wing into 12, and it really has given us an extra dimension in attacking play.”

Wells now has two weeks to prime Methody for the final as they look to win the cup for a 37th time outright.

“I think we probably took for granted some of our set piece play and maybe concentrated on other areas of our game, and we are very much going to have to tighten that up,” he said.

“It is very rare for a Methody side to get mauled over twice in one game and we will certainly be going back to the drawing board to see what we did wrong there.”

It was McFarlane that opened the scoring with a seventh minute penalty.

RBAI responded with the first try of the game, former Ulster captain Andy Ward’s son Bryn powering over from a driving maul three minutes later.

Joe Dickson got Methody’s first try on 15 minutes after showing good footwork to side-step Inst full back James Hilman with McFarlane adding the conversion.

Methody scored a maul try of their own on 23 minutes with lock Ryan Kidd being propelled over.

Inst out-half Joe Eagleson landed a penalty four minutes later.

Inst centre Rory Ellerby was sin-binned on 34 minutes for a tip tackle and Methody profitted immediately with a converted try from back row Josh Stevens.

Inst flanker Daniel Moore grabbed a try in first-half stoppage time and Eagleson’s conversion cut Methody’s lead to seven points at the break.

Second half tries for Dickson, Hanratty and replacement Liam Back all converted by McFarlane sealed the victory for the south Belfast school.

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