Campbell College continued to defy the Rugby Rankings with a hard fought 12 – 10 win against Royal School Armagh in the first Schools Cup Semi Final at Ravenhill on Tuesday afternoon.
In a repeat of last years final, it looked as though Armagh had done enough for a second consecutive appearance at the home of Ulster Rugby but it wasn’t to be, as Campbell’s Conor Rankin broke the Armagh supporters hearts with a well taken try, and subsequent conversion, to put the Belfast school through to their 42nd final appearance.
There was little between the teams throughout the game. Campbell took the lead on eleven minutes when an intercept in the Armagh half was moved wide left for prop Patrick McAlpine to go over from close range for an unconverted try.
Armagh hit back four minutes later with their front row also getting on the score sheet. A fumble from Campbell as they looked to clear their lines gave Armagh possession deep in Campbell territory and, after a couple of dabs at the try line, prop Adam Edgar found his way over for the equalising score.
The Royal School looked strong for the remainder of the half but defences dominated and the teams went into the break tied at 5 all.
Armagh continued to edge possession at the start of the second half and a couple of penalties, including a yellow card for Campbell’s Gildea, led to a driving maul forcing it’s way over in the corner to give Armagh a five point lead.
The score seeme to inspire Campbell who pressed the Armagh line, despite being a man down, but the winning score wasn’t to come until after the hour mark when a well taken line by Rankin wrongfooted the Armagh defence leaving the Campbell fullback with a clear run home. Crucially the same player knocked over the conversion to give Campbell a two point lead.
A tense finale ensued as Armagh pushed for a winning score but Campbell managed to restrict their efforts to a distance and two penalty attempts to claim the game were unsuccessful, leaving Campbell the winners by two points.
Campbell College, Belfast: C Rankin, D Williamson, R Tinsley (C), H Owens, F Parks, O Ralston, D Gaskin, J Gildea, J Boal, P McAlpine, C McCauley, J Stinson, J Johnston, B Rainey, T Olaniyan. Replacements: J Massey, L Collins, M Poor, K Gill, J Brennan, H Bell, K Robertson, H Minford.
The Royal School Armagh: M Campbell, B Boyd, N Jennings, C Worth, B Lavery, R Morrow, A Johnston, A Edgar, S Rainey, J Roberts, J Denley, R Finlay, A Woods (Capt), J Agnew, P Taylor. Replacements: J Brown, D Poyntz, N Carville, J Agnew, J King, J Allen, E McAtarsney, C Whiteside, J King.
Picture credit – Richard Owens & John McMurtry