FRIENDS’ SCHOOL 5 PORTADOWN COLLEGE 16
Friends’ School, Lisburn, had some additional support for their first round tie.
It was ‘open day’ at the school and many attending stayed on to watch the big cup match.
However, as expected, Portadown proved too strong on the day although it was Friends’ who took the lead initially.
Portadown lost their flanker, Sam White, to a non-contact injury during the warm up.
This provided their young replacement, Stuart Hodgen, with the opportunity to gain Schools’ Cup experience somewhat earlier than he expected.
The windy conditions and early nerves ensured a large number of mistakes but both teams were trying to play positive rugby.
Friends’ made good use of the wind in their backs. They secured a lot of possession from their lineout plays and were effective at the breakdown.
Their half backs made good use of the ball and kept the team on the front foot for good periods of time.
Curtis Dundas and Ryan Hall asked questions of the Portadown defence, on a number of occasions.
They got in behind the defence, at times, only to see the final pass go to ground or get bundled into touch when in possession.
Good use of the ball, with both forwards and backs involved in the build-up, saw the Friends’ flanker, Adam Milligan, cross the Portadown line to touch down for an unconverted try and give his team a deserved 5-0 lead after 30 minutes.
From the restart,Portadown patiently worked their way back up the pitch and Niall Davidson and Michael Orr combined to create space for the latter to mount a rare attack on the home line.
The home defence went on a drift and Orr read the pattern well. He simply straightened his line of running and touched down for an unconverted try to level the score.
Friends’ had an opportunity to retake the lead just before the break but a penalty kick chance was missed.
Portadown made good use of the wind in their backs in the second half.
They pinned the home team back with some astute kicks and when Friends’ trangressed, Niall Davidson made no mistake with two penalty kicks to five Portadown an 11-5 lead early in the second half.
The visitors continued to press in the Friends’ School ‘red zone’. They took advantage of some slack defence when left wing, Jordan Dowds, slipped through three missed home tackles to touch down for what proved to be the final points of the game.