Banbridge Academy 1st XV had a very impressive 15-5 win over Friends’ School in the Danske Bank School’s Cup 2nd Round on Saturday morning.
The game, played at the Academy, was hampered by the wet and windy weather, but both teams still put on a great display of attacking rugby and were full of endeavour.
Banbridge, playing with the wind at their backs in the first half, opened the scoring with a long range penalty from full-back Ryan Matthews after 7 minutes. They increased their lead on 20 minutes, when some good phase play led to Ulster U16 Hooker, Connor Magee, forcing his way over in the corner for a well-deserved try. Ryan Matthews was just wide with the extras. 10 minutes later, after some further pressure from the Academy and a slick set play off a scrum, winger Ronan Quinn touched down in the corner after good play from No 8 and Captain Ben Bradshaw. Matthews was successful with the conversion to give Banbridge a significant, but still precarious, 15-0 halftime lead.
The second half saw Friends’ use the wind to force Banbridge into their own 22. After 10 minutes some good play from the Friends’ backs led to a score in the left-hand corner but the difficult conversion was missed.
This, however, proved to be the last score of the game with the Academy, playing into a strong wind and heavy rain, tightening their grip on the game with some great phase play and some dogged defence. Flanker Marcus McNeill, a clear Man of the Match, was to the fore in this with endless carries and some bone-shuddering hits in defence. The team rallied around his lead and denied Friends’ any real opportunities to close the gap. The final whistle blew to the relief of the players and the large home crowd celebrated a hard fought but well-earned victory.
It was an immensely pleasing performance and result from the Academy side and they will now relish their 3rd Round tie where they play local rivals, Dromore High on Saturday 15 January.