Ulster Schools came out on top 18 – 12 in an entertaining game against the Italian U18 side at Newforge country Club today.
Ballymena Academy’s industrious scrum half James Wright scored a length of the field try in the first half to tie the game at 5 – all after an earlier effort from Italy’s hooker Tommaso Scramoncin. The try came somewhat against the run of play after Italy had kept Ulster pinned in their own half for much of the first half.
A yellow card for Wallace High’s Charlie Irvine after a break by Italy left an understrength Ulster defending an attacking lineout on the 5 meter line and, sure enough, the Italian pack crabbed their way to the line for Scramoncin to claim his second score. Andrea Cuoghi knocked over the conversion to give Italy a 5 – 12 lead at the start of the second half.
It seemed to be the jolt that Ulster Schools needed for they pretty much controlled the rest of the game with Wallace High’s Ben Carson pulling the strings in tandem with the Ballymena Academy half back’s Wright and Ross McKay.
McKay pulled the score back to 8 – 12 with a long range penalty before Carson burst through the midfield to dive over for Ulster’s second try. McKay’s conversion gave Ulster ten unanswered points to take a 15 – 12 lead with 15 minutes remaining.
Italy had a couple of bustling runs as they looked for a winning score and they always looked dangerous with thier offload game. However, Ulster’s committed defence held firm and the only other score was a second penalty from McKay to give Ulster an 18 -12 win at the final whistle.
Ulster U18 Schools: Rory Telfer, Dean Miller, Ben Carson, Luke Graham, Jamie McNeight, Ross McKay, James Wright, Harry Andrews, James McCormick, David Braden, Paddy Browne, Charlie Irvine, Ryan Finlay, Josh King, Adam Lamont. Replacements: Andrew Donald, Justin White, Jack Boal, Peter O’Hagan, Paddy Eames, David Stinson, Callum Smyton, Tim Bailie, Josh Drain, Jude Postlethwaite, Jordan Millar.
We caught up with the Ulster Schools coach Willie Faloon after the game.
We are very proud of the boys, they showed some determination to come back in the second half against a tough Italian side.
It’s been a good competitive game and we look forward to the upcoming interprovincial competition which will bring a different challenge.
The Italian side ended the competitive part of their short tour today having previously beaten Leinster 23 – 28 a few days ago at Terenure College.
We caught up with former IRFU coach Steve Aboud who is now FIR – Head of Technical Direction for Player & Coach Development.
“It’s been a good trip for our players, with competitive games against Leinster and Ulster. It’s important that we get the game time as rugby is not one of the schools sports in Italy, and personally, it’s always good to come home. The food, the wine, the sun, they are all terrible in Italy. [Laughs]
Leinster and Ulster gave us different challenges but I can’t really say who gave us the hardest game as we fielded different players in the two matches, but they are both obviously good sides.