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No Belfast school in the final for first time in 26 years, as Wallace High prevail

They set up a showdown with Royal School Armagh after overcoming Methodist College.

Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Wallace High 22
Methodist College Belfast 17

FOR THE FIRST time since 1994 there will be no Belfast-based school in the final of the Ulster Schools’ Cup as Wallace High set up a showdown with Royal School Armagh, after overcoming Methodist College 22-17 in the semi-final.

Ulster A scrum-half Nathan Doak, playing fly-half, kicked seven points and Ulster U19 No.8 Reuben Crothers led from the front for Wallace, who will start the St Patrick’s Day showpiece as favourites to end their wait for a first Schools’ Cup title.

They had to hold on, however, with Methody producing a spirited comeback late in the game when Wallace were reduced to 14 men, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Lisburn school from reaching their first final since 2015.

Wallace got off to the perfect start as Doak kicked them into the lead after just four minutes through a penalty, but that seemed to spark Methody into action and they took control from there.

It looked like the Belfast school might not make the most of their dominance, as Wallace repelled them time and time again, but eventually they did work their way over, Ulster U19 centre Callum Davidson kicking crossfield for Callum Doherty to dive over.

But Wallace would take all the momentum into half-time through two quick-fire scores from their centres, which were almost identical, with both Jack Dillon and Ulster Under-18 representative Ben Carson picking superb lines to scythe through and establish a 12-point half-time lead after Doak converted both.

Once again, it was Methody who did all the attacking to start the second half to try and claw back the deficit, but their efforts went unrewarded, and they were hit with a hammer blow at the other end when Wallace, with virtually their first attack after the restart, crossed for their third score through Ulster U18 full-back Jamie McNeight.

But the finish would be dramatic as Wallace were reduced to 14 men when Ulster U18 lock Charlie Irvine was sin binned for repeated offences with eight minutes remaining, but Methody could only manage two more scores from full-back Conor Spence and hooker Harry McCartney as Wallace just clung on.

The scorersFor Wallace
Tries: Dillon, Carson, McNeight
Cons: N Doak (2)
Pen: N DoakFor Methody
Tries: Doherty, Spence, McCartney
Con: Davidson

WALLACE HIGH
(15-9) Jamie McNeight; Harry Wallace, Jack Dillon, Ben Carson, Finn Rankin; Nathan Doak, Lewis Nelmes; (1-8) Cameron Doak, Joel Dundas, Scott Wilson’ Thomas Brolly, Charlie Irvine; Peter Heasley, Harry McMeekin, Reuben Crothers (captain).
Replacements: Ethan Gilliland, Robbie Davis, Nicholas Macklin-Copeland, Matthew Thompson, Philip Kennedy, Harvey Patterson, Carter McCluskey, Joel Wiseman.

METHODIST COLLEGE BELFAST
(15-9) Conor Spence; Callum Doherty, Peter O’Hagan, Callum Davidson, Andrew McMurray; Luke Graham, Luke Simms; (1-8) Jack Watson, Harry McCartney, Dan Dougan; Matthew Humphreys, Adam McNamee; Zack Porter, Adam Reid (captain), Michael Crothers.
Replacements: Johnny O’Kane, Callum White, Finn McAdam, Patrick Fullerton-Healy, Louis Montgomery, Alex Armstrong, Ethan Bryce, James Brennan.

Referee: Jonny Erskine

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