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Faloon's Armagh stage thrilling comeback to see off RBAI in Ulster Schools Cup semi

They await the winners of tomorrow’s semi-final between Wallace and Methody.

File photo: Kingspan Stadium
File photo: Kingspan Stadium
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Royal School Armagh 29

RBAI 22

ROYAL SCHOOL ARMAGH staged a phenomenal second half comeback to become the first side to reach the final of the Ulster Schools’ Cup after they beat RBAI 29-22 at Kingspan Stadium.

Armagh, who are coached by former Ulster and Connacht flanker Willie Faloon, ran in two tries during a second-half sin-bin period to claw back a 17-point deficit and then went on to secure the win through the go-ahead try from Ulster U19 flanker Josh King.

Armagh will now face either Wallace High or Methodist College, who meet in the second semi-final tomorrow, in the final back at Kingspan Stadium on St Patrick’s Day.

Fullback Ronan Doyle, who kicked seven points for RBAI, got the Belfast school on the board first when he knocked over a third minute penalty. Armagh bossed the first half and were rewarded for their dominance when fullback Ethan McAtarsney’s run was finished off by lock Nicholas Bothwell.

However, RBAI were to lead at the break off a fine set piece move, the dangerous centre pairing of Oscar Lowe and Jude Postlethwaite linking in midfield, the former offloading to the latter, who in turn set Boyle away and over the line for the fine score.

It looked like the tie was potentially won inside the opening six minutes of the second half for RBAI too as they struck for two quickfire scores, fly-half Hugo Ellerby sending winger Oliver Metcalfe over in the corner before Postlethwaite grabbed his second assist in putting Ulster U18s flanker Paddy Eames under the posts.

But the momentum completely flipped with the sin-binning of RBAI openside Jonny Eagleson as he infringed right on the line as Armagh threatened to strike.

With the extra man, Armagh staged their superb comeback. Ireland U18 Sevens skipper Charlie Worth was the first to go over, taking an offload and diving under the posts off a maul before winger Sam Cunningham sprinted all the way from one 22 to the other and passed inside for James Allen to score.

The comeback was completed in the 54th minute, just after Eagleson returned from the sin-bin, as King broke out of a maul and scrambled over the line for the go-ahead score.

RBAI almost snatched it when Postlethwaite broke into the 22 with five minutes to go, but a fantastic dual jackal from Worth and replacement prop Dylan Poyntz earned the turnover, allowing McAtarsney to go nearly the length of the pitch for the clinching score with the last play of the game.

Scorers
For RS Armagh

Tries: Bothwell, Worth, Allen, King, McAtarsney

Cons: Morrow (2)

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For RBAI

Tries: Boyle, Metcalfe, Eames

Cons: Boyle (2)

Pen: Boyle

RS ARMAGH;  Ethan McAtarsney; Sam Cunningham, Peter Taylor, Ross Taylor (James Allen 8), Chris Whiteside (James Hazelton 47); Romain Morrow, Charlie Worth; Niall Carville (James McBride 50), Sam Rainey, Jude Roberts (Dylan Poyntz 55); Jayson Denley, Nicholas Bothwell (Josh Cunningham 60); James Agnew (Andrew McSorley 63), Josh King, Ryan Finlay.

Subs not used: Kyle George, Sam Harrison.

RBAI:  Ronan Boyle; Oliver Metcalfe (Ryan Stewart 47), Jude Postlethwaite, Oscar Lowe, Jack Dickson (Jack Leathem 44); Hugo Ellerby, Josh Patterson (Ben Beattie 55); Adam Byrne (Liam Greene 47), Rory Adair (Josh Cuthbert 55), Stuart McAuley (Sam Collins 63); Alex Weir (Tyrone Simms 20 (Adam Cooke 55)), Sam McLarnon; Paddy Eames, Jonny Eagleson, Ben Cooke.

Yellow card: Jonny Eagleson (45′)

Referee: Johnny Wilson

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