SCHOOLS’ CUP RUGBY: Ballymena Academy are no match for holders RBAI in semi-final

RBAI  Zak Davidson scores the opening try against Ballymena Academy
RBAI Zak Davidson scores the opening try against Ballymena Academy

RBAI 41 BALLYMENA ACADEMY 8

RBAI kept their hopes of a hat trick of Schools Cups alive with a comprehensive victory over Ballymena Academy in the sunshine at Kingspan Stadium.

RBAI  Zak Davidson celebrates after scoring  the opening try against Ballymena Academy

RBAI Zak Davidson celebrates after scoring the opening try against Ballymena Academy

Dan Soper’s side outscored Ballymena by seven tries to one and will meet the winners of this afternoon’s second semi final BRA or Methody in the St Patrick’s Day decider.

The defending champions took the lead on nine minutes when winger Zac Davidson went all the way from his own 22.

Ballymena had an attacking lineout in the Inst 22, the pack rumbled forward as they tried to release the backs Mark Thompson spilled the ball, the Belfast school moved the ball quickly to Davidson and he had enough pace to go all the way but centre James Hume missed the conversion.

Inst got their second try on 20 minutes, from a scrum on the Ballymena 22 the ball was moved to the blindside and Hume put winger Niall Armstrong over in the corner with Lowry adding the conversion.

RBAI  Niall Armstrong   scores a try against Ballymena Academy

RBAI Niall Armstrong scores a try against Ballymena Academy

Ballymena had several opportunities to score but a mixture of inaccuracy close to the line and good Inst defence stopped them.

Ballymena wasted a glorious chance four minutes before the break, centre Stewart Moore took a quick line out to himself on the Inst 10 metre line and sprinted into the 22, he was stopped close to the line the ball was spun wide and with a huge overlap No8 Azur Allison dropped the ball.

Ballymena wasted another chance with the final play of the first half when the broke from a base of a scrum but winger Conor Gallagher was bungled into touch and Inst turned around with a 12-0 lead.

Inst got their third try 90 seconds after the restart, following a midfield break the ball was spun quickly to the wing for Armstrong to go over for his second try which was unconverted,

Inst had prop Callum Reid sin binned and Ballymena out half Brian Houston slotted over the resulting penalty.

Lowry was off target with a long range penalty a minute later.

Despite having a numerical disadvantage Inst got their fourth try on 44 minutes, blindside flanker David McCann cut open the Ballymena defence with a line break before popping the ball to No8 Yasser Omar to score from close range.

Lowry scored a stunning individual try when after a fumble by Ballymena in the Inst 22 he picked the ball up and outsprinted two defenders to go all the way under the posts with Joseph Finnegan converting.

Ballymena finally managed to take a chance when Allison finished off following good work from Alexander Clarke and Angus Kernohan.

Armstrong completed his hat trick on 61 minutes when he went over after a simple move from a five metre scrum and Finnegan converted.

Reid rounded off the victory when he barged over from close range in the final minute for an unconverted try.

RBAI: J Finnegan, Z Davidson, J Hume, D Lyttle, N Armstrong, M Lowry, R O’Donnell; C Reid, N Saulters, M Nelson, D Wallace, P McLernon, D McCann, P Finnegan, Y Omar

Replacements: C McCormick, E Sloan, B Gribben, , A Adair, E Field, R McIlveen, S McMaster

Ballymena Academy

M Thompson, A Small, S Moore, A Kernohan, C Gallagher, B Houston, M Stronge; J Gocher, A Clarke, S Agew, J McAuley, C McLeister, O Jordan, J McLean, A Allison

Replacements: D Stevenson, T Savoury, M Boyd, J Browne, T Martn, L McGuckian, C Agnew, J Faster

Ref P Martin