Not a bad start to the season for myself and, indeed for most of you, although I will admit that the exclusion of the Cambridge-Limavady result did help! Things get a bit tougher this week with two more games to predict:
Ballyclare HS v RS Dungannon
Dungannon had perhaps the easiest progression of any team from Round 1 but will now face a much tougher opponent in Ballyclare. The good news for the away side is that this is not the Ballyclare of recent memory, evidenced by their exclusion from the top seeds, who made the semi-finals five out of six years between 2008 to 2013; despite this, Ballyclare are still a good side. In my opinion, their better win ratio and stronger opponent rating still makes them favourites over Dungannon.
MY PICK: Ballyclare HS
Bangor GS v Limavady GS
The first of our Round 1 ‘surprises’ makes an appearance in this fixture as Limavady overcame many people’s predictions (including my own!) to make it through against Cambridge House; however if they are to overcome the odds again it won’t so much need an upset as a full disturbance. Bangor have peaked at just at the right time with recent results including wins over stronger sides such as Dalriada and Down HS, as well as a draw with Wallace HS. All signs, it seem, point to a home victory.
MY PICK: Bangor GS
BRA v Grosvenor GS
Grosvenor have been something of a dark horse (or stag?) this season, currently sitting with an impressive win ratio of 0.700 and placed eighth in the table. BRA haven’t managed to reach such heights, lingering all season at mid-table, but their season does include wins against Sullivan, Bangor and even a Methody ‘selectXV’ making them something of an unknown entity. Flipping a coin might be just as useful as trying to call this one, but I’m sticking with the hard facts of performance across the entire season and going for the away side
MY PICK: Grosvenor GS
Dalriada v Omagh Academy
When this fixture was announced it looked to be one of the standout games, a viewpoint which is further enforced by the latest FRU rankings as the sides’ positions of 7th and 9th make them the strongest and third strongest teams of the round respectively. Despite this, I have a strong inclination for Dalriada in this game as their current form is much better and includes wins over BRA and Ballyclare; meanwhile, Omagh Academy have one win in their last five and are yet to prove themselves against tough opposition.
MY PICK: Dalriada
Foyle College v Antrim GS
Not that long ago Antrim GS were regulars in the preliminary round of the Schools’ Cup and often found themselves heading straight into the Trophy competition. With a last-minute one-point win over Banbridge they’ve improved already on last year’s performance by securing, at the very least, an entry into the Bowl quarterfinals. However, this may be the height of their endeavours as, despite being favourably drawn against another Round 1 entrant, Foyle College have already overcome Belfast HS who would appear to be stronger opponents; now that the North-Westerners are at home and facing a team who only just made it, everything seems to be pointing in their favour.
MY PICK: Foyle College
Portadown College v Friends’ SL
Having watched Friends in the previous round it was interesting to note just how long it took before they managed to break Wellington down, the final score of 22-3 looking to be somewhat flattering in the end. One would expect Portadown to prove more of a challenge to attack, and indeed to defend, against which looks to make them favourites, but recently they have made heavy weather of results; in fact, they only just beat the Lisburn side by 8 points to 7 back in December. I expect Portadown to make it a double but, again, only just.
MY PICK: Portadown College
Regent House v Portora RS
Keen followers of the Cup may be aware that this same fixture was played at the same venue and same stage of the Cup only two seasons ago. Back then Regent scraped by with a 12-7 lead and a similarly close game looks to be on the cards this Saturday. On paper, Portora do look the stronger heading into this game but, having witnessed it on numerous occasions in past years, there’s much to be said for a Regent team at home playing competitive rugby. For this match-up I’m letting my gut rather than my head do the choosing.
MY PICK: Regent House
RS Armagh v Rainey ES
Progression from Round 1 has given Armagh fans some respite from, by their high standards, a dreadful season, but, at the very least, progression from this round has to be achieved in order for it to be labelled anything other than disastrous. Unfortunately for RS Armagh they have been drawn against the highest ranked side at this stage of the competition, a Rainey side who haven’t lost since September with nine wins and one draw in their last ten coming against the likes of Omagh, Sullivan, Ballyclare and, oh, Armagh…who they beat 47-0 away from home…need I say more?
MY PICK: Rainey ES
Have a better idea of what to go for now? Get your entry in HERE before the deadline of 10.00am Saturday 23rd January