On Tuesday afternoon, in one of the oldest rivalries in Ulster Schools Rugby, Methodist College faced off against Royal Belfast Academical Institution in the semi final of the Schools Cup at Kingspan Stadium.
Great playing conditions boded well for a fast, open game and so it turned out.
Methody applied pressure from kick off, won a close range penalty and Ben McFarlane obliged for a lead after 5 minutes.
Inst responded and when a lineout maul splintered, Bryn Ward powered over in the right corner for Inst to take a 5-3 lead.
Methody got their first try on 14 minutes, when Joe Dickson out paced the Inst defence to score in the left corner. McFarlane nailed the conversion from the touchline and Methody lead 10-5.
More Methody pressure saw Ryan Kidd barge over from a maul and moved Methody up to 15-5.
After 25 minutes a Methody indiscretion was punished by a Josh Eagleson penalty goal to keep in in touch at 15-8.
Inst were reduced to 14 men following a tip tackle, Methody opted for the scrum, and Josh Stevens crashed over. McFarlane added the points from a difficult angle and Methody had moved out to 22-8.
In the last act of the first half Inst drove a line out maul forward and when it twisted, Daniel Moore drove over, on the left. An Eagleson conversion left Methody leading 22-15 at halftime.
The second half was only 2 minutes old when Dickson found space on the left and dived over in the corner for his 2nd try. McFarlane’s touchline conversion gave Methody a 29-15 lead.
Methody pressure was relentless stopping Inst plays, at source with their marauding back row winning turnovers and penalties.
After 42 minutes Lorcan Hanratty found space to over unopposed, McFarlane converted, and Methody lead 36-15.
Methody’s final try came on 58 minutes, space was worked on the left to allow Liam Black to dive over in the corner. It was no surprise that McFarlane landed the touchline conversion. Methody had mow moved up to 43-15.
Methody pinned back a very game Inst side and there was no further scoring. Methody will find out their cup final opponents following Wednesday’s semi final, between Campbell College and Wallace High School.
RBAI: James Hilman, Ryan Stewart, Rory Ellerby, Jack Parkinson, Jamie Beattie, Josh Eagleson, Conor McGrath (C), Andrew Armstrong, Oliver Clark, Jacob Boyd, Myles Lowe, Christopher Beaumont, Daniel Moore, Callum Simms, Bryn Ward. Replacements: Andrew Hamill, Rory Stewart, Daniel Flynn, Jacob Edwards, Oscar Dunbar, Callum Soper, Flynn Morrow, Adam Hawthorne.
Methodist College: Ben McFarlane, Chris Bradley, Peter O’Hagan (C), Lorcan Hanratty, Joe Dickson, Ryan Lindsay, David Armstrong, Callum White, Johnny O’Kane, Finn McAdam, Ryan Kidd, Harry Palmer, Patrick Fullarton-Healy, Josh Stevens, Michael Crothers. Replacements: Jack Lambe, Ben Wilson, Harry Pratt, Matteo McGlaughlin, Ben Neill, Josh McAdam, Jacob Kelly, Liam Black.