Late switch of venue proves no problem for Academy

Ulster player Andy Warwick puts Ballymena Academy's Year 8 players through their paces.
Ulster player Andy Warwick puts Ballymena Academy's Year 8 players through their paces.

Ballymena Academy completed the first half of their season with a 22-17 win at Campbell College on Saturday.

The game was switched to the Belfast school at the last minute, due to a frozen playing surface at the Galgorm Road venue as a result of the heavy overnight frost.

Despite that upheavel, however, it was the Academy who settled quickest and they opened the scoring when Andy Magrath kicked a penalty.

Campbell responded with a try from Jack Howard who broke through the Ballymena defence by running great line. Cameron Stewart added the conversion to give Campbell a 7-3 lead.

Andrew Small, the Ballymena Academy right winger, then got in on the try scoring act when he finished off good work from Magrath and Josh McIlroy to run in for a touchdown.

Andrew Magrath was successful with his conversion kick to put his team into a 10-7 lead. This became 17-7 when Andrew Magrath scored a super try which he converted. Campbell College responded with a try from second row, Adam Walmsley. Stewart added the conversion to reduce the arrears to 17-14 at the break.

The second half saw both teams keen to move the ball around at every opportunity but both defences were on top for large periods of time. The only score of the second period of play came when Azur Allison scored an unconverted try for the Academy team to secure their 22-14 victory.

Meanwhile there was a happy return to their alma mater recently for two former pupils who have gone on to enjoy significant success in their rugby careers.

Ulster players John Andrew and Andy Warwick were back at their old stomping ground to help out with Year 8 coaching.

The two former pupils, both of whom had enjoyed the same coaching programme when they were in Year 8, enthusiastically passed on their expertise, lending a helping hand with rucking, scrumming, passing and space awareness.

John and Andy were very impressed with the level of skill shown by the Year 8 pupils, their handling ability and by the number of boys involved.

The school has extended its thanks to John and Andy for helping out at what is a very busy time for both of them.