Ballymena Academy ran out deserved winners in the 2010 Northern Bank Schools Cup Final at a packed Ravenhill on Wednesday afternoon by the score 10 – 7.
BRA opened the scoring with a try by Jordan Buchanan, converted by David Cartmill but Ballymena hit back late in the first half with a Caleb Morrison try, converted by Callum Patterson, and went ahead early in the second half with Patterson adding a drop goal.
It was the Ballymena side that started the match strongly and thanks to their foraging back row and the boot of Patterson they kept the Belfast side pinned in their own half.
BRA did manage a couple of breakouts with some exciting running by out half Stuart Olding and a few barging breaks from their number 8 Iain Henderson and it was from one such break that scrum half Conor Spence sent full back Jordan Buchanan clear with a delightful chip, allowing Buchanan to collect and score under the posts.
The impressive Cartmill added the extra points and the Ballymena players looked somewhat shocked to find themselves trailing 0 – 7.
Last gasp victories against Friends School and Methodist College, in the previous two rounds, has shown that this Ballymena side have deep resolve and, urged on by captain George Dennison, they pushed themselves even harder to respond. The breakthrough finally came when some silky running by full back Charlie Simpson allowed Patterson to sent the hard working, and justifiably the Belfast Newsletter Man of the Match, Caleb Morrison over for Ballymena’s opening score. Patterson did well to convert from out wide and the half ended with the score 7 – 7.
Ballymena applied further pressure at the start of the second half and edged in front early on with a well taken drop goal by out half Patterson and were unlucky not to go further ahead when Patterson hit the posts with a penalty attempt. Camille Delpy also came close to scoring but was narrowly beaten to a Patterson kick ahead by BRA winger Eoin Devlin.
The Belfast side tried hard to respond and with captain Conor Spence prominent they managed to pin Ballymena in their own half for much of the remainder of the second period but, unfortunately, too many of their moves broke down under pressure. Ballymena were now reduced to a few breakouts and Charlie Simpson came close late on but it was BRA who applied the closing pressure as Ballymena fought to defend their slender lead.
The final whistle eventually came and it was ‘fluffy sheep’ supporters who were cheering at the end.
Ballymena Academy: Simpson; McClelland, Delpy, Storey, Morrison; Patterson, Banda; McNabney, Andrew, Galloway, Rea, Whann, Patton, Dennison, Wallace. Replacements: Hargy, Gregg, Goodrich, Dick, Stirling, Fleming, McBride.
Belfast Royal Academy: Buchanan; Devlin, Cartmill, Glover, Robinson; Olding, Spence; Martin, Sinclair, McCallum; O’Neill, Leckey; Vincent, Clarke, Henderson. Replacements: McCormick, Thompson, Simpson, Nicholl, Jamison, McClements, Redmond.