Campbell College won the Danske Bank Schools Cup for the first time since 2011 by out-scoring Royal School Armagh by three tries to one in the spring sunshine at Kingspan Stadium.
It was the Belfast School’s 24th outright victory in the competition and again it was their defence that paved the way, having to absorb long periods of pressure in their own 22.
Speaking after the final whistle Campbell College captain John McKee said: “The euphoria everyone is feeling in the stands is matched by us here on the pitch, it’s hard to put it into words at the minute!”
Armagh dominated the early exchanges but they turned over the ball in Campbell’s 22 and centre Jamie McCartney led a break out carrying deep into Royal School territory but had no support.
Armagh had the first real chance to break the deadlock on 18 minutes when they were awarded a penalty for a high tackle in midfield but centre Zac Thompson effort from the kicking tee drifted wide.
Campbell nearly scored on 22 minutes: full back Conor Rankin fed winger Will Davis but Armagh held him out before conceding a penalty at the ruck.
Campbell went for the corner but the lineout throw wasn’t straight and Armagh were able to clear from the resulting scrum.
Campbell cut open the Armagh defence on 29 minutes when they worked the ball wide and Rankin showed great footwork and pace to carry into the 22 but his pass to winger Rex Tinsley was forward.
Armagh captain Jack Treanor made a line break before hacking on into the 22 during the scramble on the ground the Royal School conceded a penalty allowing Campbell to clear.
Campbell finally broke the deadlock in first half injury time, they kicked a penalty to the corner, from the lineout flanker Jack Stinson drove from the maul, Ben Power took it on and was stopped close to the line before scrum half Dara Gaskin nipped over from the base of the ruck for a try.
Rankin’s conversion hit the post and Campbell went into the interval with a 5-0 lead.
Armagh started the second half strongly, centre Matthew Reaney made a line break which earned a penalty and Thompson slotted it over.
Campbell increased their lead on 49 minutes after Armagh had been battering away at their line, Rankin hacked on a loose ball in midfield and got a fortuitous bounce which he gathered and raced over from 30 metres and the full back was able to convert his own try.
Thompson landed his second penalty from in front of the posts four minutes later following more good work from Reaney.
Campbell sealed victory with a third try five minutes from full time.
From a lineout the forwards rumbled close to the line, the ball was spun infield to Davis and the winger side-stepped the first up defender before showing great power to hold off two tackles and go under the posts, making Rankin’s conversion a formality.
Armagh’s replacement scrum half, Ben Lavery, scored a late consolation converted try.
Royal School Armagh: M Campbell, O Webb, Z Thompson, M Reaney, N Jennings, R Morrow, A Johnston; J Chapman, J Treanor, A McAlpine, J Agnew, S King, A Woods, G Crawford, R O’Neill
Replacements: S Rainey, A Edgar, R Finlay, J Roberts, J King, B Lavery, C Whiteside, P Taylor
Campbell College: C Rankin, W Davis, J Macartney, B Power, R Tinsley, O Yandall, D Gaskin; J McKee, H Jenkins, P McAlpine, O Kiernan, J Harrison, J Stinson, S Robinson, T Olaniyan
Replacements: J Gildea, M Carlisle, M Poor, J Johnston, J Brennan, L Yandall, H Owens, K Robertson
Ref: J Erskine.