A late score for Cambridge House 3 minutes from full time was enough to give them a 10-8 win and snatch the victory from Banbridge Academy in the final of the Medallion Trophy.
In a tight final played at Friends’ School Lisburn, the Academy boys started strongly and despite dominating possession and territory in the early stages of the game, were unable to convert this pressure into points. A controlled set piece, dangerous running lines and efficient continuity all asked questions of the Cambridge defence, but an organised and aggressive defence meant the pressure did not yield any points. As the game approached half time and against the run of play, Cambridge broke the stalemate when after several phases their out half stepped inside a drifting defence to score just left of the posts and give them a 5-0 lead.
This was the only score of the first half and so at half time the Academy boys turned round 5-0 down, but with the breeze at their backs the game was still very much alive. Using the wind to gain territorial advantage, the Academy created various scoring opportunities, but as in the first period, the Cambridge House defence held firm and wave after wave of attack was unsuccessful. A moment of brilliance from Noah Myles and Josh Noble brought The Academy level when Noah athletically retrieved a Ryan Matthews kick and fed Josh Noble who sprinted away from the cover defence for a game levelling try, the conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
The Academy side continued to dominate possession, but despite monopolising play never really threatened the opposition line. Handling errors and turnovers limited their scoring opportunities and gave Cambridge the ability to break out of defence. Midway through the second half the Academy took a deserved lead for the first time when attacking pressure forced an infringement from Cambridge, giving Ryan Matthews a penalty opportunity. Ryan was accurate with his penalty kick, giving the Banbridge boys a 3 point lead with 10 minutes left on the clock. However, Cambridge House played their best rugby of the match in this 10 minute period forcing the Academy to make several crucial and costly errors. With only 2 minutes to go Cambridge made this pressure count and after multiple phases of play created an over-lap that allowed them to cross close to the right hand touch line. This score gave them a 10-8 lead with insufficient time for the Academy to respond. From the kickoff Cambridge claimed and maintained possession for the final couple of minutes, running the clock and down claiming the victory.
Although this was a very disappointing way to end the season, the boys deserve praise for a successful cup run. The U15 squad, bolstered by a number of U14 Year 10 pupils, gelled into an efficient team who produced some excellent rugby and scored some marvellous tries. The squad would like to thank the many supporters who travelled to Friends’ School Lisburn to support and Banbridge Rugby Club who generously loaned us a kit on Saturday after our normal school colours clashed with the Cambridge House kit.