Ballymena Academy booked a semi-final trip to Portora in the Danske Bank Subsidiary Shield with an impressive 27-10 win at Sullivan Upper on Saturday.
The fixture at Holywood matched up the two seeded teams who had been knocked out of the Schools’ Cup in the opening round.
The away team started strongly and were awarded an early penalty which Andrew Magrath slotted confidently.
Five minutes later, Josh McIlroy was first to a loose ball and, following a kick ahead, the Ballymena captain showed outstanding pace to win the race for the touchdown. Magrath made no mistake with the conversion to increase the Ballymena Academy lead to 10–0.
The home team rallied and, following a sustained period of pressure deep in the Ballymena 22, their powerful pack drove over for a try in the corner.
The touchline conversion was missed and Ballymena increased their lead with another penalty by Andrew Magrath.
The half-time whistle sounded with Ballymena leading 13–5, and Sullivan started the second half as they had finished the first, with several drives from close range resulting in a deserved try early in the second period which reduced the arrears to 13–10.
Ballymena came back into the game and following several quick rucks, the ball was moved wide to Josh McIlroy who dived over for his second try. Magrath’s conversion was successful as the away team stretched into a 20–10 lead.
As the game neared it’s conclusion, it was Ballymena who looked more likely to score again and following a turn-over on the halfway line, Jack Archer moved the ball into space and Andrew Magrath beat the tiring defence to race home from 40 metres.
Andrew converted his own try to make the final score 27–10.
Ballymena Academy: Reynolds, Small, McIlroy, Kernohan, Hanna, Magrath, Stronge; Forsythe, Clarke, Bill, McNabney, Rea, Allison, McKeown, Thompson Rep. Holmes, Moody, Archer, Gallagher