Banbridge Academy pulled away in the second half to defeat Larne Grammar 30 – 7 in the opening round of the Schools Cup.
Academy’s tries came from David Houston, Jay Pinion, Ethan Harbinson and Nathan McKinley with Daniel McElderry converting two to ad to a first half penalty. Larne’s try came from Jonathan Glasgow with Callum McKay adding the conversion.
It was a bright frosty morning at the Academy Playing Fields but unfortunately the somewhat scrappy first half didn’t live up to the settings.
Academy took an early lead with winger Houston forcing his way over in the corner and despite missing the difficult conversion full back McElderry quickly made amends with a long range penalty to give the home side a 8 – 0 lead.
Larne had been pretty much out of the game up to this point but they sparked into life following a wonderful solo effort from full back Glasgow who sliced through the defence on the halfway line to run in unopposed. McKay converted and it was game on at 8 – 7.
Larne enjoyed a substantial period of possession following their score but crucially it was Banbridge who scored again before the break with scrum half Pinion going over from close range to take the score to Banbridge Academy 13 Larne Grammar 7 at the break.
The home side moved up a gear in the second half and Larne were unable to respond. A quick ten points proved decisive as McElderry slotted over a penalty to be followed minutes later by impressive flanker Harbinson going over for a converted try to take the score to 23 – 7.
Winger McKinley completed the rout, breaking clear to add the Academy’s fourth and with McElderry adding the extras the home side were home and hosed at 30 – 7.
Larne rallied briefly in the closing minutes but it was too little too late for the visitors.
The Front Row Union Man of the Match Award goes to Banbridge Academy’s wing forward Ethan Harbinson (above) who, despite taking a ten minute break, created havoc in the Larne defence in a powerful second half performance.
Banbridge Academy: Nathan Gray, Scott Cromwell, Tom Lyttle, Peter Heaney, Matthew Bell, Richard McNeill, Ethan Harbinson, Rory Carson, Jay Pinion, Ben Carson, David Houston, Alex Kusmirek, Rory Thompson, Nathan McKinley, David McElderry. Replacements: Ben Nixon, Dylan McAteer, Patrick Magennis, Stephen Rompante, Jonathan Campbell, David Carleton, Shane Honeyford, Michael McGaffin.
Larne Grammar: James Bacon, Chris Lough, Connaire Maybin, Marc McAlister, Jack Buchanan, Alistair Black, Conor Connolly, Terry O’Donnell, Lee Haddock, Callum McKay, Ethan Brownlee, Alistair Burke, Matthew McMaster, James Bell, Jonathan Glasgow. Replacements: Callum Oakley, Perri Sittlington, Alex McVeigh, Matthew McGarel, James Stafford, Aaron Wilson, Jack Ringland, Connor Smyth.
Special mention for Larne’s full back Jonathan Glasgow who brightened up a dreary first half with a brilliant solo effort to keep Larne in the hunt.