Banbridge Academy’s First XV cruised through to the second round of the Danske Bank Schools’ Cup on Saturday after smashing past a determined Antrim Grammar School 45-0.
The storming win set up what promises to be a tight second round tie away to Portora Royal School in Enniskillen on Saturday 24th January (kick-off 10.45am).
The Academy were always the stronger side but Antrim did put up solid resistance and it took the Academy to play some excellent rugby to eventually break down the visitors.
A large crowd braved the elements at the Academy on Saturday morning and they were rewarded with a fine display of attacking rugby.
Things couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for the Academy when, after only two minutes, wing Michael McGaffin finished off a set piece scrum move to take the Academy into an early lead. Full-back Daniel McElderry was wide with the difficult conversion attempt.
The Academy continued to attack but good defence from Antrim meant it was 15 minutes before out-half Ben Carson managed to wriggle his way over for a score under the posts. McElderry this time added the extras.
On 27 minutes, the Academy caught and drove a lineout from the Antrim 22 and No 8 and Captain Matthew Bell guided the maul over the line and dotted down for the score. McElderry again added the two points and this left the score 19-0 at half-time.
Within a couple of minutes of the restart, Banbridge had added to their lead when scrum half Jay Pinion, who had an excellent game, picked up a loose ball and jinked his way over the line. McElderry once again added the extras.
On 42 minutes, McGaffin scored his second of the match when he burst through the line after an excellent set piece move from the Academy backline and raced over the line. Again McElderry was successful with the conversion.
Second row Peter Heaney then finished off a fine drive by the Academy pack when he powered over the line and McElderry was successful with his fifth conversion off the day.
The final score was on 65 minutes when the Academy backline created an overlap and McElderry was put away into space, racing over to score in the corner. He was unable to add the conversion and the score finished at 45-0.
Overall, it was an excellent performance from the Academy and it should fill them with confidence as they progress in this season’s cup competition.
Now they begin preparations for Portora. The Enniskillen side have had a good season to date and have been seeded directly into the second round. That said, the Academy did beat Portora 26-3 earlier in the year.