Joy for Academy after quarter-final victory

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Strabane Academy progressed to the semi-final of the Medallion Trophy after a 31-10 victory over Antrim Grammar School on Tuesday past.

Antrim started by far the better side. From the opening kick-off Antrim made good ground with ball in hand and seemed to have that greater desire to retain the ball.

This pressure soon resulted in Strabane Academy losing the ball in their own 22 and Antrim capitalising on some poor decision making to go over for the first try of the match.

  A response was needed from the hosts and after some 'soft words' from Mr Sargent, a response was duly given. Strabane began to look like the team that produced some fantastic rugby just four days earlier. Within five minutes Strabane managed to work their way up the field with some powerful running from the ever improving and influential Jack Madden and the tireless running of the captain Jack Kee. The effort, rather than endeavour, was rewarded with Strabane scoring two tries back to back.

 The first was quick thinking from Jack Kee who pounced on a loose ball amid some confusion in the Antrim defence. The ever reliable McCrossan ensuring the maximum seven points for Strabane with the resulting conversion. The second try came from the power and strength of Reuben Orr who never fails to give 100% effort in every game. Once again McCrossan ensured the full quota of points was awarded with a simple conversion.


The half-time score was Strabane Academy 14- 5 Antrim GS.


 The second half started like the first with Antrim refusing to lie down. Their no. 8 began to open his legs and on two occasions burst through the defence to put the home side on the back foot.

It was an individual try of considerable quality which brought relief for the Strabane boys who were feeling the pressure.

Finn Hampton, the Strabane Hooker, sidestepped his was through a crowded 22, demonstrating great agility and footwork, whilst vitally drawing defenders in, carrying the ball in two hands before he powered his way over the goal line.

Once again Antrim refused to throw in the towel and the resulting pressure ended in a second and deserved try for the away side, although they missed conversion they were right back into the game.

Antrim could smell blood and began a sustained period of pressure inside the Strabane 22. However, Matthew Kelly managed to 'jackal' the ball from the Antrim rucks on three separate occasions and allow the pressure to be released and territorial advantage be gained for the home team.

It was a master class of counter rucking and poaching that enabled Strabane to overcome that period of pressure and maintain their lead. If Antrim had scored the momentum and game could well have changed.

 With the visitors chasing the game Strabane exerted control exploiting the abundance of space especially in the wide channels. Another powerful run from Reuben Orr finally saw the industrious flanker register his second score and help restore a solid 24-10 lead.

In the final play Strabane scored their fifth and final try with a great break down the right touchline and a beautiful back hand offload from Orr to allow Shields to score in the corner with McCrossan adding the extras from a tight angle a degree of gloss was added to the score line.


Notable performances

There were notable performances particularly from the pack, Dylan Curran, returning from his warm weather training in South Africa showed equal tenacity in defence and whilst carrying, ably assisted by lock Josh Wallace, who is already catching the eye as a 1st XV player of the future. Jack Kee as ever led by example and received plenty of support from a whizzing scrum half, Adam Boyd.

This result highlights the continuing improvements of Strabane Academy's Medallion XV. However, a testimony to their dedication, there was a feeling that there are areas to improve on before the semi-final.

However, once again all the boys cannot be faulted for the amount of effort that they put in and the discipline that they showed during the game. It is this teamwork and attitude that will ensure all the players success in the future.

A hard fought but deserved win.


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