Medallion Shield: Royal Belfast Academical Institution 7 Campbell College 15 Semi Final

Published Categorised as 2021-22, Campbell College Belfast, Medallion Shield, Royal Belfast Academical Institution, Schools Medallion Tagged , , , , , , , ,
Campbell College edge through to the Medallion Shiled Final after a late winner against Royal Belfast Academical Institiution on Saturday morning.

This season these two titans of schoolboy rugby have both dispatched all comers and on their last head to head RBAI came out on top. That was a friendly but this is a semi final with the shield the prize.

Report and pictures by Richard Owens

A large crowd was gathered at Pirrie Park as Campbell prepared to kick off, wind strongly at their backs, both teams encouraged by the vocal support, although RBAI probably won that battle as Campbell’s support was spread over two other cup finals happening across Belfast.

Inst found themselves contained in their 22 as kicking options were limited into the stiff breeze. Campbell used this to their advantage and on the quarter hour mark a charge down from Campbell’s Harry Ord from an Inst clearance box kick, saw him first to the loose ball touching down to get Campbell into the lead. Henry Ralston added the conversion to push the score to 7-0.

Campbell College on the attack against RBAI in the first half.

RBAI used their powerful ball carriers, Zac Molineux and Blake McClean to drive their team upfield but a critical turnover from Campbell allowed them to boot the ball right back into their opposition’s 22. A committed chase forced Inst into a sliced clearance kick and Campbell were back on the attack. A precise line out, quick ball and Inst were stretched all the way across the field before Campbell’s left wing, George Carson shrugged off two tackles to slide in for Campbell’s second try. The difficult side line conversion was missed but Campbell had a 12-0 lead which held as the half came to an end.

George Carson goes over for Campbell’s second try in the first half against RBAI

Would Inst be able to use the wind in the second half to get themselves back into this game. Clearly they thought so as RBAI came hot out of the blocks, immediately pinning Campbell into the corner who ferociously defended their try line. The Inst pressure mounted and eventually the defensive line cracked as Reece Graham smashed his way over the line to get Inst off the mark. RBAI captain Charlie Gray blasted a superb shot at goal to bring Inst to within 5 points, 12-7 with only five minutes of the second half gone.

RBAI push for a second score against Campbell in the second half.

Inst had a shout for a second try as they kept up their assault on the Campbell line but fearless defending from Campbell just was enough to keep Inst out, Campbell’s flanker Ord throwing himself under the the Inst’s Molineux to hold the ball up just as he fell to the turf.

It took a moment of skilful handling after a powerful break from Campbell’s lock Callum McKinney to release his backs who surged forward almost scoring. Inst regained possession but made a fatal error attempting to run out from their own 22 instead of hoofing the ball back downfield. Gray was caught and now isolated, Campbell won a penalty after he didn’t release the ball in the tackle and Ralston slotted over the shot taking Campbell into a two score lead 15-7, with only minutes remaining.

Campbell controlled these final moments with two perfect line outs and mauls denying Inst the ball and any chance of a late revival. Fittingly captain Ethan Kennedy booted the ball off the pitch to the sound of the final whistle and the delight of the Campbell support. A great game balanced on a knife edge, both teams showing huge commitment, won by the team that managed that wind better. Congratulations to Campbell who’ll face Ballymena in the final.

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