The Banbridge Academy first XV failed to land their first Schools’ Bowl when they were beaten by a well organised Foyle & Londonderry College team last Wednesday.
The final score of 11-5 showed how tight a game it was but in truth the Academy didn’t really play their best rugby and, while still being competitive to the end, could have no real complaints about the loss.
The game, played in front of a huge crowd of over 600 people, began ominously for the Academy when the Foyle out-half slotted a penalty on five minutes. This seemed to awaken the Bann side as they powered upfield and, after a series of forward drives, flanker Ethan Harbinson squeezed over for a score.
This should have been the catalyst for further Bann pressure but it turned out to be their last meaningful play of the half. The rest of the time was spent in and around the halfway line defending Foyle attacks.
The Academy lineout malfunctioned time after time and with no ball to play with, it was a frustrating 20 minutes for the team. Foyle regained the lead with another well struck penalty on 30 minutes and then shortly afterwards out flanked the Banbridge defence to score in the corner. This took the score to 11-5 at half-time and with the Academy turning round into the wind in the second-half, it was a huge task to overhaul the Foyle lead.
The second-half saw the Academy come into the game a little more but they still couldn’t find any consistent patterns and their attacks were limited. It was only in the final 10 minutes that things really opened up and the Academy threw everything at Foyle to try to rescue the game. Despite a number of near misses, the Foyle defence held firm and they deservedly claimed the Schools Bowl.
While the final itself was disappointing, the road to it was extremely pleasing. The team should be justifiably proud of what they achieved this season, becoming the first ever Banbridge Academy team to reach the final of the Schools’ Bowl.
Their hard work and effort in matches and training was second to none and the season will live long in their memories for the scintillating rugby they produced on the pitch and the great team spirit and camaraderie they had off it.