Dromore HS welcomed Belfast giants Inst (RBAI) to Barban Hill for an eagerly-awaited Second round of the Second XV Cup.
In a brilliant contest the final 32-12 score-line in favour of the visitors did not quite reflect how tight the contest was for the majority of the time.
In a first half, that saw both teams challenging for their share of both territory and possession Dromore played very well in first half scoring two excellent tries to take the lead after an early score from the visitors.
The first came from a driving maul with Luke Fitzsimons taking control from the rear. Superb communication and teamwork saw the maul drive towards the Inst line as Luke dived over for the score.
Winger Stephen Stewart capitalised on a cross-kick to beat the first defender to the ball, fly-hack on, gather, beat the next man and sprint to the posts with several other defenders trailing in his wake. RBAI scored to level the scores by half-time (12-12)
The second half started poorly for Dromore – a knock-on direct from the Inst. restart kick and several phases later the saw the away team score in corner.
Although Dromore heads dropped a little, the boys kept fighting throughout the tie. Good scrummaging and lineout work made sure the match was still in the balance right until the last quarter.
RBAI then scored a well-worked try after their centre burst through two tackles and offloaded to the support to take a 19-12 lead. Dromore pushed hard, going through several phases and were unlucky not to score in corner with the final pass failing to go to hand. Inst came back with a drop goal to increase their lead to 10pts.
With the score at 22-12, Dromore made changes in last five minutes, giving the bench a chance to pit their wits against a RBAI team that boasted seven players that will undoubtedly be on the match-day squad for the Schools’ Cup Final on St Patrick’s Day at the Kingspan Stadium.
Inst scored two further tries to leave the final score at 32-12 – a points difference that did not tell the full story.
This was a fantastic performance from a group of boys that have played some excellent rugby this year – it was perhaps a little unfortunate to draw one of the favourites so early on in the competition.
The forwards were particularly impressive, with the work in the set-pieces an undoubted highlight. Indeed, the commitment shown throughout the season could not be questioned with line-out sessions starting at dawn and practices going on until dusk.