Cambridge House v Grosvenor GS
This tie in Ballymena between Cambridge House and Grosvenor Grammar (kick-off 10.30am) could turn out to be one of the proverbial Danske Bank Schools’ Cup classics.
The recently appointed Cambridge coach, John Nicholl, has put structures into place to revitalise the game in the school.
He has brought former Ulster player, Jamie Smyth, and fellow Ballymena RFC player, Chris Smyth, on board to assist with coaching players throughout the school. Their squad of senior players, the largest for a number of years, has benefitted from the coaching set up so far.
The team has won more games than they lost in the course of the build up to their Cup. Sam Nicholl, the captain has made it clear to his team mates he expects them to front up in this game.
He can look at the try scoring ability of players such as Lewis Wray, the points scoring ability of James Bovill, the work ethic of his vice-captain, Aaron Henry, as well as the fact Houston Bonnar has been selected in an Ulster Schools’ Development squad to get quality support.
Grosvenor will be favourites and although they are a young squad in transition, the players have adapted remarkably well to the demands of senior school rugby.
The entire squad is now starting to realise they have the potential to achieve a good run in the Cup. and team coaches, Gary Hunter and Andrew Gibson realise they have a talented group of young players to work, but lacking in big pressure matches.
Leading players for Grosvenor this season include James Cartilage, Ben Davidson, an Ulster Schools’ U17 Development player, Jordan McDowell and Taylor Pollock in the pack. The backline contains the emerging talents of players such as Thomas Quinn, an U16 RDS player, Gareth Lammey, Jonah McDowell and Mark Johnston. Johnston, as well as being a top notch place kicker, has developed the happy knack of scoring crucial tries at crucial times in recent games.
The Cambridge defence will need to pay Johnston just respect for the entire game.