Despite a storming second half fight back from Sullivan Upper, visitors Ballyclare High had enough in the tank to take this Northern Bank Schools Cup match by 37 points to 29 with replacement Paddy Reid claiming a vital try towards the end of the game.
Sullivan started the game brightly putting the visitors under immediate pressure. An early break by scrum half Harry Eves was continued by Dan Floyd who popped a pass to Michael Scott for the number eight to force his way over in the corner. The conversion was slotted by full back Ross Adair putting the home side into a 7 – 0 lead.
Ballyclare High chipped away at the lead with two penalties from out half Jonny Holmes taking the score to 7 – 6 by the end of the first quarter and the visitors proceeded to dominate the second quarter with three tries, all from close in. Prop Jonny Craig crossed the line first to be closely followed by number eight Jonny Darling with Jonny Douglas adding the third close to the end of the half. Holmes added all three conversions and the game looked over with the half time score reading 7 – 27 in favour of Ballyclare.
Sullivan were quick on the scoreboard with an Adair penalty taking the score to 10 – 27 but Ballyclare hit back with a second try from Jonny Craig out wide. The try went unconverted but the visitors looked comfortable at 10 – 32.
The home side finally hit some form and kept Ballyclare pinned in their own half. Tries from full back Adair and wing forward Oliver Loughead, both converted by Adair, took the score to 27 -32 and when Adair crafted an exceptional individual effort for his second try, with ten minutes to go, it was all to play for with the score now reading Sullivan 29 Ballyclare High 32.
A somewhat shell shocked Ballyclare High dug deep and managed to rumble their way down the pitch where they pummelled the Sullivan defence. After a period of pressure, replacement Paddy Reid finally found the line, much to the relief of his team mates, giving the visitors a crucial eight point lead with the score at 29 – 37.
Sullivan refused to concede defeat and came close with Adair continuing to look dangerous but Ballyclare held on to claim their semi final at Rvenhill with teh game ending Sullivan Upper 29 Ballyclare High 37.
One has to feel a degree of sympathy for the home side who realised too late that they could win this one. Their second half purple patch, with full back Ross Adair exceptional, was certainly the best rugby played in this encounter. However Ballyclare High have to be congratulated for their impressive team effort. Their powerful forward play and their fantastic attitude is going to make them a hard team to beat in this years Schools Cup.
Sullivan Upper: Tom Stevenson, Tom McClelland, Ryan Loughead, Owen Glenn, Adam Wood, Jonny Tullin, Oliver Loughead, Michael Scott, Harry Eves, Charle Preece, Dan Floyd, Oliver Mathews, Andrew Kerr, Rory Foy, Ross Adair, Scott Finlay, Mark Jameson, Jamie Halliday, Owen Ferron, Rory Norris.
Ballyclare High: Jonny Craig, Marc Logan, Peter Kennedy, Garit Bartley, Kirk Johnston, David Kelly, Peter McMechan, Jonny Darling, Chris Millar, Jonny Holmes, Andrew Butler, Jonny Douglas, Edward McKee, Peter Ferguson, Michael McComb, Aaron Crockett, Conor Shearer, Scott Barr, Paddy Reid, Jack Irvine, Simon Beattie, Chris McIntyre.