I really enjoy the opening round matches of the Danske Bank Schools Cup. Yes there are mistakes, and yes some of skills could do with a bit of a polish, and yes some of the coaches are overexcitable but to me it’s good old fashioned rugby full of over ambition and honest endeavour.
The match between Carrick and Strabane was one such game, a dull first half leading to to an entertaining second, topped off by a thrilling climax with the match decided with the last kick of the game. Well done to both teams.
As I said, the first half wasn’t the best. Strabane enjoyed the early territory and possession and were unlucky not to take the lead when their impressive fullback crossed in the second quarter, only for the try to be disallowed for a forward pass. The close call seeme to motivate Carrick who spent the remainder of the half on the attack, however, despite plenty of endeavour from both sides, the game was typified by too many mistakes, the teams turning round with no score for either side.
Thankfully the ball began to stick in the second half and it was Strabane who took a deserved lead with winger Jamie Browne crossing for a try converted by Michael Doherty.
Carrick were stung into action and they came battling back to level the game ten minutes later when Josh Leatham crossed out wide and Dan Curley converted.
The home side continued to push and their pack began to enjoy some dominance, keeping Strabane pinned in their own half. It looked like they had secured the win when Josh Irvine hit the line amidst a crown of defenders. Curley was on target with the crucial conversion to give Carrick a 14 – 7 lead with 8 minutes left.
Strabane looked devastated but they eventually managed to raise their game and they spent the last minutes of the game camped in Carrick territory. The game had gone beyond time but a series of penalties by Carrick kept the ball live and Strabane got their reward when Jordan Mealiff crossed out wide with the last play of the game.
It set up a difficult chance for Strabane to level the score with the conversion but despite a fine strike the ball was just wide to give Carrick the game.
Final score: Carrick Grammar 14 Strabane Academy 12
Carrick go forward to the Second Round of the Schools Cup where the host Cambridge House on or before the 6th January.