SCHOOLS’ CUP: Exciting derby as Banbridge Academy host Dromore

Banbridge Academy captain Toby Baxter is gearing up for his side's Schools' Cup opener against Dromore High School.
Banbridge Academy captain Toby Baxter is gearing up for his side's Schools' Cup opener against Dromore High School.

Banbridge Academy will host their near neighbours from Dromore High School in a Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 game that is sure to fire the imagination of the Mid-Down Schools’ Rugby supporters tomorrow.

Banbridge, coached by Brian Leslie, Roy Stevenson and Andrew Craig, has had a difficult season so far. Injuries to key players have not helped in terms of preparation for this local derby.

However, the Banbridge Academy coaches have been phlegmatic in their approach and have used the circumstances to blood some younger players by giving them 1st XV experience. Despite not winning many of their games the team has managed to pick up a number of morale boosting victories in the lead up to their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign.

Team captain, Toby Baxter, will be relieved that quite a few of his injured colleagues should be available for selection tomorrow. Toby will look to his leading try scorers such as Chris Patterson and Robbie Mathers to take the lead in this game. He will receive great support from his fellow flanker, Jonny McIntosh, who has displayed impressive form all season.

Chris Patterson and Ross Cartmill form an effective half back partnership with centre, Troy Pinion, another player to watch.

Dromore will create a little bit of history when they take to the pitch against Banbridge, when the players will be the first set of pupils from Dromore High School to participate in the Ulster Schools’ Cup competition - the second oldest rugby competition in the world.

Coached by Josh Pentland, who is assisted by the experienced Gareth Bronte, Dromore will set out to make the most of the experience.

The team had a great start to the season but a couple of injuries to key players knocked their positive results back somewhat. However, the signs are that the injury situation will be cleared up in time for the game at Banbridge.

Team captain, Ben Martin, is an exciting player who leads his team with great aplomb. Ben is also Head Boy and captain of the 1st X1 soccer team.

Ben Heath is another player who will need to be monitored by the opposition defence as his strong runs from his No 8 position have seen him lead the try scoring charts at Dromore High School.

During the summer age grade season Ben played for the Ulster Club’s U18 team. Aaron Lyttle has had his talents recognised by his selection for the Ulster U17 team. Aaron will get plenty of advice from his brother, David, who won a Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Medal with the victorious Royal Belfast Academical Institution last season.

Richard Dickson in the Dromore second row is another player attracting the interest of Ulster Rugby. Dromore will probably enter this competition as underdogs but they are coming from a rugby environment where many of the players have experienced success in other Ulster Rugby competitions.

Kick off is at 10.30am.