Academy power past Portadown to set up semi-final date at Dalriada
Banbridge Academy First XV progressed to the semi-finals of the Ulster Schools’ Bowl competition on Saturday after defeating local rivals Portadown College 19-9.
The victory set up a final four tie against Dalriada from Ballymoney.
That match will be played on Saturday 21st February at Dalriada’s school pitches.
The game, played at the Academy, was nip-and-tuck the whole way and it was only in the dying minutes that the Academy pulled clear to book their spot in the semi-finals.
The Academy started the brighter of the two teams but it was Portadown College who was first on the scoreboard when their centre slotted a long range penalty after 15 minutes.
Banbridge responded magnificently and almost immediately a good break from full-back Daniel McElderry was recycled and the ball moved to the left where flanker Jonathan Campbell powered his way in for the try. McElderry was just wide from the extras.
For ten minutes or so, it was a stalemate as neither team really got to grips with the game.
Both sides were guilty of errors and as play broke up, Banbridge scrum-half Jay Pinion went for a poach but the referee deemed him off his feet.
Not only did Portadown slot the kick but Pinion was also sin-binned and things looked tricky for the Academy at 6-5 down and a player light.
The team responded magnificently again, however, and went straight back up the pitch and, after some fine attacking play, centre Shane Honeyford found the overlap and squeezed in in the corner. McElderry again missed the conversion but that left the half-time score 10-6 in favour of the Academy.
Portadown College were first on the scoreboard again in the second half as another penalty reduced the deficit to just one point but after this, it was all Banbridge.
While this pressure did not yield tries, it did yield penalties and McElderry landed good kicks on 45, 55 and 65 minutes to take Banbridge out to an unassailable 19-9 lead.
The Academy were good value for their victory and it was a fine effort from all the players to control a difficult encounter and grind out the victory against brave and committed opponents.