The Banbridge Academy 1st XV exited the Schools’ Cup on Friday night against Cambridge House from Ballymena. The game was played under lights at Ballymena RFC and while the Academy went in as massive underdogs they put up a brave fight and led at various stages throughout this entertaining encounter but ultimately lost out 34-22. The match was played in front of an enthusiastic group of supporters who witnessed a highly skilled match between two fully committed sides.
The Academy team started the game strongly and took a 3-0 lead when Out Half Tom Flanagan converted a penalty kick with just three minutes on the clock. Three minutes later the Cambridge House team responded with a converted try to give them a 7-3 lead. Midway through the first half the Banbridge Academy team edged into a deserved 10-7 lead when Troy Pinion scored a fine try of a set piece move which was converted by Tom Flanagan. On the stroke of half time, and somewhat against the run of play, Cambridge converted a penalty kick for the Cambridge House team to see the scoreboard reading 10-10 at the interval.
The Cambridge House team then scored three tries in ten minutes at the start of the second half and all three were converted which saw Cambridge push into a 31-10 lead. Banbridge Academy responded with a try from industrious Flanker Alex Shannon, which was converted by Tom Flanagan, to reduce the arrears to 31-17. Cambridge then kicked a penalty to increase their lead to 34-17. With just minutes remaining Alex Shannon took advantage of good work from Peter Sleith and Troy Pinion before touching down for his second try of the night to leave the final score reading Cambridge House Grammar School 34 Banbridge Academy 22 at the end of this competitive and entertaining Danske Bank Schools’ Cup match.
While the Academy team were disappointed at the end they know that bar for ten minutes after half time they played some of the best rugby of their season. They now push on to play in the Schools’ Trophy with their ¼ final being against Larne Grammar at Banbridge Academy on Saturday 20th January.