Sullivan Upper travelled to Ballymena Academy, Galgorm Road, Ballymena to try to advance to the next round of the Ulster Schools Medallion Shield on Saturday 22nd January 2022.
Report and pictures by Davie Hayes
It was a cold but dry Saturday morning in Ballymena, allowing for some very open rugby to thrill the large crowd of spectators.
Ballymena Academy got out off the blocks quickly scoring a try on the 8th minute after Sullivan gave away a penalty in their own half. A superb kick into the corner, allowed for a 5 metre line out and a well orchestrated maul allowed hooker Ben Millar to cross over for his first try. Reuben Allen had the challenge of converting the try from a very tight angle, narrowly missing the target to leave the score at 5 – 0 in Ballymena’s favour.
Ballymena’s strong start continued when they quickly forced their way back into the Sullivan half, another penalty cost Sullivan more points when on the 12th minute, second row Matthew Cahoon tapped and made a quick dart for the line to get over the whitewash. Allen was on target the second time around and added the extra 2 to take the score to 12 – 0 .
The end to end rugby continued, Sullivan pushed their way into the Ballymena half and there efforts were rewarded with a penalty in front of the sticks. Centre Brett Russell had the kicking duties and didn’t disappoint, slotting his first effort over to move the scoreboard along to 12 – 3.
Ballymena responded quickly and obtained a penalty of their own, Allen slotted it over to take the lead back to 12 points at 15 – 3.
Sullivan keep their chins up and provided a great spectacle when second row Nathan Noble found the line following a line out on the 5 metre line on the 26th minute to take the score to 15 – 8
In the dying minutes of the first half Sullivan allowed Ballymena the chance to extend their lead with a penalty. Allen slotted another over ending the half 18 – 8 in Ballymena’s favour.
The pep talk at half time saw a strong start to the the second half from Sullivan who scored a try in the corner within minutes of the restart, Noble getting his second of the day to take the score to 18 – 13.
Was a tight second half with some late half action when Ballymena extended their lead out to 25 – 13 with an end to end try for centre Tom Wylie who picked up the ball in his own 22 and showed of his dancing shoes when he beat multiple defenders.
Sullivan finished strong but a little to late when they crossed the whitewash for the final score of the game. Second row Harry Thallon getting across to give a final score of Ballymena 25 Sullivan 18.
Ballymena are rewarded with a home quarter final against Regent House to be played on or before the 5th February. Sullivan drop to the Medallion Plate where they will travel to Enniskillen Royal to play in the plate quarter finals also on or before the 5th February.