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Schools Cup: Larne Grammar 31 Cambridge House 7

The School’s Cup got back on the road for another season with Larne Grammar hosting Cambridge House in the first of back to back First Round ties.

Larne Grammar made considerable strides towards qualifying for the second round with a 31 – 7 victory, scoring five tries in the process, though the teams meet again next weekend in Ballymena with the side with the best aggregate score going through.

The game started brightly enough, in strong sunshine, with Larne dominating territory and Connor Connolly broke from the back of a scrum to cross the line after seven minutes to give Larne a 5 – 0 lead. However, Cambridge House lived up to their pre match favourites tag with Tinus Smit forcing his way over the line four minutes later. The conversion was good, taking the score to Larne 5 Cambridge 7.

After this promising start, the game degenerated into a scrappy affair with both sides making lots of mistakes, the main feature being a bucket load of penalties from both teams at the breakdown. Larne had a chance at a penalty mid way through the half but it was pushed wide and Cambridge really should have knocked over a three pointer with minutes to go to the break but they chose to run the ball and a sterling defensive performance from Larne to keep them out filled the home side with a lot of confidence as the teams turned round.

Half Time: Larne Grammar 5 Cambridge House 7.

Man of the Match Conor Connolly produced a barnstorming display from the back of the scrum.

Larne finally found their form at the start of the second half and within minutes Perry Sittlington found the line, amidst a clutch of players, to put the home team back in front with his try taking the score to 10 – 7. The home team went 10 points clear eight minutes later when Alistair Burke crashed over for Larne’s third, Calum McKay converting.

The game was put beyond doubt two minutes later when Connolly crossed for his second, and Larne’s fourth, with McKay adding the extras to move the score to 24 – 7.

Cambridge House worked hard to close the gap, with a view to next week’s return fixture, and things got a little heated at times. However, the Larne scrum was well on top and the back row of James Bell, Ethan Kerr and Connolly were dominating the breakdown and they managed to snuff out any further chances for the visitors.

The home team took a huge step towards qualification in the closing minutes when Burke found himself in enough space to beat the final defender and touch down for what could be a vital fifth try. McKay converted to leave the visitors chasing a 24 point deficit next week.

Full Time: Larne Grammar 31 Cambridge House 7.

Larne Grammar: Calum McKay, Ethan Brownlee, Alistair Burke, Alan Murray, Tristan Hagan, Sam McIlwaine, Rory McDowell, James Bacon, Marc McAlister, Connor Weir, Jack Buchanan, Luke Cameron, James Bell, Ethan Kerr, Conor Connolly. Replacements: Chris Lough, Perry Sittlington, Connor Smyth, David Campbell, Jordan Bell, Vince McCorry, Matthew McMaster.

Cambridge House: Philip Smyth, Stuart Gillan, Connor Spence, Jonny McAllister, Thomas McIlroy, Ben Wylie, Marc McIlroy, Chris Da Mata, Sam Nicholl, Daniel McCord, Tinus Smit, Lewis Wray, Sam Junk, Craig Coates, Jonny Simpson. Replacements: Stephen Rankin, Andrew Whann, Ben McCandless, Mark Thompson, Neil Johnston, Jeremy Alexander, Josh McIlroy.

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