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Royal School Armagh staged a sensational second half comeback against RBAI to book a place in the Schools Cup Final on 17th March.

Inst looked to have built a winning lead, after two quick tries at the start of the second half moved them 17 points clear, but Armagh battled back with 24 unanswered points to secure the win.

The game kicked off in near perfect conditions with Inst applying the early pressure. The Belfast side took an early lead with Ronan Boyle knocking over a penalty on the fourth minute and Inst spent the bulk of the first quarter applying pressure on the Armagh line.

Ronan Boyle knocks over an early penalty for RBAI.

The enthusiastic Armagh defence held firm and they started to work their way up the field as the game wore on. Midway through the second quarter a period of pressure in the Inst 22 yielded a try for Nicholas Bothwell to give Armagh a 5 – 3 lead after 27 minutes.

A break down the right leads to Armagh’s opening score.

Inst hit back shortly after with Jude Postlethwaite sending Ronan Boyle over for an unconverted try to take the score to 5 – 8, in the Belfast sides favour, as the teams changed ends.

RBAI celebrate Ronan Boyle’s first half try.

A sensational start to the second half saw Inst turn up the heat as they raced to a 5 – 22 lead.  A try down the right by Oliver Metcalf was followed by a powerful run by Paddy Eames, who was put through by Postlethwaite. Ronan Boyle converted both to push the score to 5 – 22.

Oliver Metcalf sprints clear for his score.

Armagh dug deep for a response, and they found it. Charlie Worth started the comeback, darting over after a series of pick and goes, and minutes later a break by winger Sam Cunningham was finished by James Allen. Romain Morrow concerted both to take the score to 19 – 22.

Armagh’s Charlie Worth had an influential second half. 

Inst were stunned and Armagh continued to pile it on, a try from Josh Keen off the back of a maul giving them a 24 – 22 lead with just over 10 minutes remaining.

James Allen sends out the pass for the final try. 

Inst regrouped and staged a series of attacks round Postlethwaite but Armagh weren’t going to let this one slip and a break out by James Allen was taken on by Ethan McAtarsney for the fullback to sneak in at the corner to wrap up the game. The conversion was missed but Armagh were already celebrating their remarkable comeback.

Royal School Armagh: Ethan McAtarsney, Sam Cunningham, Peter Taylor, Ross Taylor, Chris Whiteside, Romain Morrow, Charlie Worth, Niall Carville, Sam Rainey (C), Jude Roberts, Jayson Denley, Nicholas Bothwell, James Agnew, Josh King, Ryan Finlay. Replacements: Josh Cunningham, Dylan Poyntz, James McBride, Kyle George, Andrew McSorley, James Hazelton, James Allen, Sam Harrison.

Royal Belfast Academical Institution: Ronan Boyle, Oliver Metcalfe, Jude Postlethwaite, Oscar Lowe, Jack Dickson, Hugo Ellerby, Josh Patterson, Adam Byrne, Rory Adair (C), Stuart McAuley, Alex Weir, Sam McLarnon, Paddy Eames, Jonny Eagleson, Ben Cooke. Replacements: Josh Cuthbert, Liam Greene, Sam Collins, Tyrone Simms, Adam Cooke, Ben Beattie, Ryan Stewart, Jack Leathem.

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