A battling display from Ballyclare ensured their progression to the third round of the Schools Cup following a 17 – 12 win against Royal School Dungannon.
Due to the early kick off at Ravenhill I was only able to cover the first half and even then I missed the opening score as Dungannon’s Patrick Foster took full advantage of kick off confusion in the Ballyclare defence to pounce on the loose ball and stroll over. Aaron Perry converted and Dungannon had a 0 – 7 lead before I’d decided where I was going to get the best light on a damp and overcast morning.
I duly plumped for the self same corner that Dungannon had scored in, light behind me and stiff breeze blowing directly in my face, but the bulk of the play took part at the other end of the field with the home side enjoying the bulk of possession for the remainder of the half.
However, defences dominated in a scrappy match and Ballyclare, roared on by a large home crowd, looked somewhat tetchy.
The home side eventually made their breakthrough, as the half drew to a close, when Dean Jones crossed after a period of pressure in the visitors 22. Owen Hutchinson converted well from out wide and the teams went into the break on seven points apiece.
It should be Ballyclare’s game I said as I took my leave as they were dominating possession and with the stiff breeze now behind the the home team there looked no way out for boys from Tyrone. When, shortly after the restart, Ballyclare’s Owen Kirk ran in a long range effort early in the second half that looked like it.
However Ballyclare’s discipline let them down, with three subsequent “binnings”, and Dungannon took advantage of the extra man with Peter Doran and Aaron McCammon combining to send Aaron Perry over for an unconverted try to tie the score at 12 apiece.
The final twist came when a sloppy clearance from Dungannon ended with Jonny Crockett going over for the final score of the game to give the home side a 17 – 12 win.
Ballyclare High now face Bangor Grammar at home in Round Three and Dungannon drop to the Bowl setting up a “Royal Rumble” against near rivals Royal School Armagh.