We’d tipped Sullivan Upper but it was Methodist College Belfast who produced the ultimate professional performance to claim the 2014 Danske Bank Schools Cup with a 27 – 12 win at Ravenhill this afternoon.
The new Ravenhill looked resplendent, filled with boisterous supporters in the afternoon sun, as both teams ran out to face a carnival atmosphere with an apt green tinge for this St Patrick’s Day fixture.
Sullivan kicked off and enjoyed possesion and territory in the opening minutes but it didn’t take long for Methody to assert their authority. A strong maul by the reigning champions led to a penalty in Sullivan territory that was kicked to the corner for a line-out.
The ball was taken up to the five yard line and after a couple of attempts Methody centre Connor McKee spotted a gap and forced his way over close to the posts. Josh Bingham converted to give Methody a 7 – 0 lead.
Sullivan hit back but their first sortie into the Methody 22 was repelled and just as they were regathering for another forward thrust up popped that man McKee for an interception on the half way line which he took to the corner for his second score. No luck with the conversion from out wide but there was a danger of Methody running away with this one with the score now 12 – 0
The Holywood side were playing some nice rugby but struggled to convert territory into points but they finally worked some space on the left for Chris Jordan to touch down. Jordan unfortunately injured his shoulder in the act of scoring but he’d got his team back in the game with the score reading 12 – 5 with the conversion missed.
The Belfast giants weren’t done for the half though and almost immediately they worked the ball back into the Sullivan 22 for Josh Bingham to make a break which was finished off by Alastair McIvor.
The conversion was missed and though Sullivan rallied yet again to finish the half with the ball held up over the Methody line the teams turned round with the score reading Methody 17 Sullivan 5.
Sullivan needed to score first in the second half and that’s exactly what they did with Johnny Betts finishing off a move on the 50th minute, and with Mark Adair slotting over the conversion from out wide it was game on with the score at 17 – 12 in Methody’s favour.
The Belfast side weren’t chasing their third consecutive Schools Cup for no reason and they showed their composure to smother the fight out of their opponents, putting pressure on their scrum and the line out and forcing them to run from deep.
The mistakes inevitably came as Sullivan tried to chase the game and Ben O’Reilly went over for Methody after a big rumble from their pack. The conversion was missed but the game was won and Rory Cairns put the icing on the cake with a last minute try to give Methody a deserved 27 – 12 win.