College derby is the tie of the round in Schools’ Cup

Campbell's Patrick Beverland in action against Sullivan in the previous round
Campbell's Patrick Beverland in action against Sullivan in the previous round

There is no doubting the tie of the round in Saturday morning’s Danske Bank Schools’ Cup quarter-final ties.

Fox’s Field, Belmont will be packed when Cup experts and holders, Methodist College make the short trip across the city to play Campbell College (10.30am).

Both sides came through tough encounters in the third round, Methody winning at Ballymena while Campbell went to Holywood and defeated Sullivan.

Few outside Campbell expected them to win that game and they are underdogs again tomorrow.

Team coaches Brian Robinson and Gareth Fry will have done their homework on MCB, who are aiming to make it four Cup successes in a row.

Campbell have won eight of their games played against schools from Ulster this season and will be looking for a ninth win tomorrow.

There are quite a few Year 13 players in the squad who have experienced success in a Ulster Schools’ competition.

The Year 13 players were Ulster Schools’ Medallion Shield winners two seasons ago. They are keen to replicate that success in the Schools’ Cup.

Ten of the Campbell college squad were involved last season and there are seven Ulster Schools’ U17 and U18 players available for selection on Saturday.

Daniel Kealey, Adam Walmsley and Jack Barry Glendinning, the try scorer against Sullivan Upper, are members of an abrasive Campbell College pack that will ask questions of their Methodist College counterparts.

They certainly did, most successfully, against a very powerful Sullivan pack.

If Campbell’s pack can produce the quality possession required by their backline then players such as Cameron Stewart, an astute tactician, Jack Howard, Jonny Haldane and Rory Butler have the ability to cause problems for any opposition team.

Methodu had to work hard for their third round victory at Ballymena and coaches Nicky Wells and Stephen Lindsay will feel their charges are hitting winning Schools’ Cup form at just the right time of the season.

There is - as usual - an array of talent in the MCB squad that is possibly unequalled by any school in the Province.

Ben O’Reilly, team captain, Saul Herdman and Alex McAllister, in the front row, have rarely been troubled by any of their opposition counterparts this season.

If they, along with their fellow forwards such as Matthew McKinney, Daniel Coulter and the very dynamic Zach Jordan, have laid the foundations for the success of the team this season.

It is in the Methody backline where there is outstanding talent to be seen.

Danny Gray is an emerging scrum half who has attracted the attention of the Ulster Rugby Talent ID Department while his half back partner, Gareth Millar, is an astute No 10 who has benefitted from the experience of playing for the Ulster U19 team.

Another Ulster U19 player, Ali McIvor, in the midfield, is a strong defensive player as well as being a creative attacking player.

That talent, alongside that of midfield partner Matthew Jamison, has presented attack minded wide players, such as Conor Kelly, Josh Jordan and Robert Lyttle, with the opportunity to display their highly developed attacking skills on countless occasions this season.

Lyttle is also a first class goal kicker who will punish any opposition indiscretions committed with his strike range. Conor was involved with the Ireland U18 School team last season and Robert is currently involved this season.