Banbridge Academy Medallion Rugby XV have made it into the semi-finals of the Medallion Trophy following a 19-5 win against Friends’ School Lisburn. In a competitive game against the Lisburn side the Academy boys always looked the more likely to score, but it was not until the last quarter of the game before the result could be considered safe. The Academy team started strongly and within the first 10 minutes took the lead when a backline move creating the space for Dan Hutchinson to make a break behind the opposition defence. A quick ruck provided strong running hooker, Adam Lytle, the opportunity to crash over close to the posts. Ryan Matthews was successful with the conversion to give the home team a 7-0 lead. From the restart Friends’ tried to get a foot-hold in the game and despite sustained pressure they didn’t really threaten the home line. An unfortunate bounce brought Friends’ their only score late in the first half, when a kick and chase was rewarded with a touchdown. The first half continued to be a very competitive affair and while the Academy boys looked more likely to score again, the half finished without any further scores.
The second half started with the Academy holding a narrow 7-5 lead and the advantage of the wind at their backs. Friends’ knew this Cup fixture was still anyone’s game and started the second half strongly, using long high kicks to put the Academy back three, Noah Myles, Ronan Quinn and Josh Noble under pressure. The boys coped very well with these attacks leaving Friends’ unable to establish a strong attacking base in the Academy 22. Throughout the entire game, the Academy boys attack looked dangerous and were able to cause the Friends’ defence real problems given quality ball. Approximately 15 minutes into the half, an attacking opportunity was provided when half back, Ryan Matthews, produced a long, accurate clearance kick to bring play close to the opposition line. Pressure on the Friends’ line- out forced a turnover where the Academy boys immediately initiated a series of attacks. Several strong carries involving both backs and forwards, brought the ball across the pitch and back again and after many phases of play, Tom King crossed the line for a vital score. Ryan Matthews was again successful with an important conversion which extended the Academy boys lead beyond a converted score. Despite Friends’ dominating possession the Academy side still looked more likely to score and with Friends’ pushing, Man of the Match Dan Hutchinson finished a sustained attack which secured the victory for the home team with a 19-5 score line. This was an encouraging result for the Academy boys. The pack looked steady in the set piece, with the line-out and scrum looking secure throughout the game. In open play they were competitive and physical in the tackle and at the breakdown. The backline looked threatening in attack and resolute in defence throughout the entire game. Given quality possession they displayed the ability to break through or go round the opposition defence on several occasions, although an inaccurate final pass meant the opportunities created where not always realised.
The boys have now reached the semi-final stage of the competition, so tightening up on these small issues will be important. Decision making and converting scoring chances into points is vital in our preparation over the next couple of weeks as the squad prepare for competitive games when the margins of success or failure are narrow.