SCHOOLS’ CUP RUGBY: Portadown College edge out Lurgan College in derby affair

.''Lurgan's Harry Simpson in action with Portadown's 'Michael Orr.
.''Lurgan's Harry Simpson in action with Portadown's 'Michael Orr.
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Lurgan College 3 Portadown College 7

The Co Armagh derby Danske Bank Schools’ Cup first round tie lived up to its pre-match billing with Portadown College edging out Lurgan College at Lough Road 3-7.

In spite of difficult weather conditions the game was played out in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

Lurgan started well and controlled territory and possession for long periods of time. Their backrow trio of Mark Montgomery, Victor MacKenzie and the impressive Reuben McCreery got through a lot of work and sat for long periods of time close to the opposition 22m but could not find a way through the Portadown scramble defence.

Fifteen minutes into the game Lurgan team took a deserved 3-0 lead when talented full back, Robbie Norton, converted a penalty kick awarded after a Portadown infringement. Portadown College had the opportunity to level immediately after the restart but an attempted penalty kick was well off the mark.

That was the last time in the first half Portadown team came close to the Lurgan 22m area. But their defence was proving reliable and the scoreline, in Lurgan’s favour, remained at 3-0 at the interval.

It was a different Portadown team in the second half. Their pack started to win some quality possession and their half back partnership of Brett Fleck and Michael Orr started to display some better game management skills.

They pinned the Lurgan College team back into their 22m area while Matthew Neill, James Hewitt and Peter McKeeman started to ask questions of the Lurgan defence.

Good work at the breakdown from James Wright and Stewart Hodgen eventually led to quality possession for the Portadown team.

Nine minutes into the second period team captain, Michael Orr, gained some ground and put a clever grubber kick in behind the home defence. He took advantage of hesitancy, regathered the ball and slid in for a try close to the posts. He then added the conversion for a 7-3 lead.

Lurgan had a number of opportunities to take play deeper into Portadown territory but a series of missed line kicks and spilt possession at critical times prevented them from making inroads.

Portadown played with more confidence as the game progressed and controlled the game well ensuring they took the victory.

In the second round, Portadown were drawn at home against Friends’ School, Lisburn. the tie will be played on Saturday, January 23.

In the quarter-finals of the Schools’ Trophy, Lurgan will travel to play Belfast High School.