RUGBY SCHOOLS’ CUP: Underdogs Friends’ see off Portadown College challenge

Friends on the attack against Portadown College at Chambers Park
Friends on the attack against Portadown College at Chambers Park
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PORTADOWN COLLEGE 11 FRIENDS’ SCHOOL 20

Friends’ overcame their pre-match billing as underdogs, having lost to the same opposition just before Christmas, to put on an impressive performance in this game and emerge as deserved winners.

Intensity and physicality from the outset was high with both teams struggling to gain a foothold in the early stages of the game.

Portadown peppered the Friends’ defence and forced penalties from the Lisburn side. The stalemate broke with a Friends’ penalty proving costly and gave the College a 3-0 lead when fly half, Michael Orr, converted a penalty.

Orr added a second after David Stewart was on target for the visitors and the 6-3 scoreline remained in Portadown’s favour when the break arrived.

The second half told a different story with four tries scored.

Within the first five minutes of the restart Friends’ hit with power and pace through Chris Nesbitt. Three phases later the ball went blind and some good offloading play set winger, Alex O’Brien, off down the touch line and the first try of the game.

The restart came to James Maxwell and after moving the ball to Newell and he raced in for another unconverted try and a 13-6 lead.

Portadown would not let their heads drop and came back with the intent to score. They stepped up their intensity took play deep into the Friends’ half.

Strong carries from Matthew Neill and James Wright forced the Friends’ team into making mistakes and the hosts were rewarded with an unconverted try from Ryan Daly.

Friends’ went on to seal their victory when Adam Schoffield, Adam Milligan and Kirk McGrady all combined to send Bart Campbell in for a try. Stewart added the extras to give them a 20-11 win.

In the third round Friends’ will entertain one of the favourites, Campbell College while a home game against Grosvenor Grammar awaits Portadown in the quarter-finals of the Bowl.