Gallant Cambridge House side make exit from Schools’ Cup

Cambridge House's Ben McIlroy looks for a team-mate during Saturday's Schools' Cup defeat to Grosvenor. Picture: Press Eye.
Cambridge House's Ben McIlroy looks for a team-mate during Saturday's Schools' Cup defeat to Grosvenor. Picture: Press Eye.

Cambridge House First XV’s Danske Bank Schools’ Cup journey came to an end at the competition’s opening hurdle on Saturday.

John Nicholl’s boys bowed out of the tournament after losing 25-3 to Grosvenor Grammar in their first round tie.

“I was actually a wee bit disappointed because I thought we could have given a better account of ourselves,” Nicholl told Times Sport.

“The occasion maybe got to the boys a wee bit. We were heavily punished for making mistakes and missed tackles and we needed to be more clinical with the openings we had.

“But I can’t fault our boys for their efforts because they never gave up - Grosvenor were just that wee bit ahead of us in terms of power and strength.

“Travis Boyd and Josh Henry made some tremendous tackles, James Bovill cleared his lines really well and Reuben Russell, at seven, had a great game for us,” the coach added.

The signs of nerves were evident on Cambridge House’s part as they turned the ball over from the opening kick-off and eventually the visitors opened the scoring as they worked their way through the phases before Caleb McCullough went over for an unconverted try in the corner.

A few minutes later, another Cambridge House infringement gave Mark Johnston the opportunity to extend the Grosvenor lead to 8-0 when he was successful with the resultant penalty.

With half-time approaching, and Cambridge House pressing for a score, the Ballymena boys suffered a blow when they turned over line-out ball and Grosvenor moved the ball with width allowing their centre, Thomas Quinn to break three tackles before finishing off with a try under the Cambridge House posts. Mark Johnston added the conversion to give the visitors a 15-0 lead.

Cambridge House re-grouped, and with the last play of the first half, got some reward for their endeavours when out-half James Bovill converted a penalty opportunity to reduce the deficit to 15-3 at the break.

But Grosvenor started the second half strongly and from a series of forward drives, Daniel Mayhew eventually forced his way over the Cambridge House line to touch down for an unconverted try to put his team into a 20-3 lead going into the final quarter of the game.

However, Grosvenor’s victory was secured when Andrew Boyd touched down for a try following good work from his pack.

Although out of the main competition, Cambridge House’s name went into the draw for the Danske Bank Schools’ Trophy where they were drawn at home to Royal School Dungannon, on Saturday, January 24.

“I know Dungannon ran Coleraine close this season and Coleraine would be some distance ahead of us so there is plenty of work to be done between now and then,” added coach Nicholl.