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Former Ulster boss Neil Doak leads Campbell College to Senior Cup title

Belfast school seal their first senior title since 2011.
Mar 19th 2018, 5:22 PM 7,377 24

John McKee lifts the trophy Campbell College's John McKee starts the celebrations. Source: Presseye/Stephen Hamilton/INPHO

Royal School Armagh 13

Campbell College Belfast 19

CAMPBELL COLLEGE BELFAST are the 2018 Ulster Schools Senior Cup champions after their sturdy defensive performance saw them overcome Royal School Armagh 19-13 at Kingspan Stadium.

Tries from Dara Gaskin, Conor Rankin and Will Davis handed Neil Doak’s side a hard-fought victory, while Ben Lavery added a late score for Armagh backed by two penalties from centre Zac Thompson.

It was a testament to the Campbell defence that Armagh, despite dominating territory and possession, didn’t cross the 22 in the first half as they set out their stall following on from their strong showing in the semi-final.

Thompson had a penalty at goal that slid just wide, but scoring chances were minimal as the two sides battled it out in midfield for dominance in a very even first half.

But first blood went to the Belfast school as their driving maul was held just short and, after several drives at the line from their bruising pack, ironically it was scrum-half Gaskin who saw the small gap and dived through for the opening try on the stroke of half time.

That might have been a hammer blow to some sides, but Armagh started the second half strongly thanks to the elusive running of centre Matthew Reaney and Thompson stuck over a 37th-minute penalty.

Dara Gaskin scores a try Dara Gaskin burrows over for Campbell's first try. Source: Presseye/Matt Mackey/INPHO

Ulster U18 full back Rankin then missed a penalty for Campbell before Armagh passed up a glorious chance to take the lead, again Reaney the orchestrator as he kicked through for Romain Morrow to gather, only for them to lose the ball at the line.

That proved to be key as Campbell went up the other end and scored their second try, Gaskin again involved as he charged down a kick from Morrow and Rankin scooped up the loose ball to run it back for the score.

Yet again Armagh came close to scoring their first try as they worked back up to the Campbell 5m line, only for a cynical infringement from the Belfast boys giving Thompson his second penalty of the game.

And that allowed Campbell to kill the game off with their third try five minutes from the end, their driving maul again stopped just short by Armagh flanker Aaron Woods, but winger Will Davis showed brilliant strength to power over under the posts under pressure for the game-winning score.

Armagh did add a consolation score with one minute to go to make it interesting, replacement scrum-half Ben Lavery running a great line from the wing to evade several defenders and cross, but Campbell forced the knock-on off the restart and the celebrations began.

Royal School scorers:Try: Lavery

Conversion: Thompson [1 from 1]

Penalties: Thompson [2 from 3]

Campbell College scorers:

Tries: Gaskin, Rankin, Davis

Conversions: Rankin [2 from 3]

Penalties: Rankin [0 from 1]

ROYAL SCHOOL ARMAGH: Michael Campbell; Oliver Webb, Zac Thompson, Matthew Reaney, Nicholas Jennings; Romain Morrow, Alex Johnston; Jack Chapman, Jack Treanor, Archie McAlpine; Jonny Agnew, Samuel King; Aaron Woods, Graham Crawford, Ryan O’Neill.

Replacements: Sam Rainey, Adam Edgar, Jude Roberts, Ryan Finlay, Josh King, Ben Lavery, Callum Whiteside, Peter Taylor.

CAMPBELL COLLEGE BELFAST: Conor Rankin; Will Davis, Jamie Macartney, Ben Power, Rex Tinsley; Oscar Yandall, Dara Gaskin; John McKee, Harry Jenkins, Patrick McAlpine; Oisin Kiernan, John Harrison; Jack Stinson, Sam Robinson, Tobi Olaniyan.

Replacements: John Gildea, Matthew Carlisle, Matthew Poor, James Johnston, Jamie Brennan, Lucas Yandall, Harry Owens, Kierion Robertson.

Referee: Jonny Erskine

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Adam McKendry

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