Ulster Rugby Academy Development and an Ulster Club Select enjoyed a hit out at Banbridge Rugby Club last night with the Club side having the better of the evening, scoring three tries to one.
Head of Ulster Rugby Academy. Kieran Campbell commented ahead of the game:
“This is a new idea aimed at giving club players an opportunity to show off their ability and test themselves against our Academy roster.
It’s very important for us to ensure we remain integrated with the club game, and for the players involved it is a chance to stake a claim for a place within the player development pathway at Ulster.
We are always open to providing opportunities for players why may not have came through the traditional route, as we have seen in recent times with the likes of Matthew Rea, Tommy O’Hagan, Callum Patterson and even Stuart McCloskey, who was somewhat of a late starter.”
McBurney and Jones played in the 2016 competition in Manchester, Cooper and Regan playing in 2017 in Georgia.
Despite an array of talent on display the game never really sparked to life, with defences dominating. The Club side had a bit more want about them and took the lead through an early penalty.
Initial success in the scrums and a couple of quick breaks by their impressive scrum half Glen Bailey (Ballymena RFC) led to the opening try, which was converted to give the Club side a 10 – 0 lead.
The Academy came back into the game with a period of sustained pressure and a quick line out led to their only try which was well converted from out wide. However the Club side ran in another score before half time to take a 15 – 7 lead into the break.
The second half was a stop start affair with multiple changes and a few stops for injuries. The Academy added a penalty to their score before the Club side consolidated a deserved win with a late converted try.
Final Score: Academy Development 10 Club Select 22
Ulster Rugby Academy: Conor Kelly, Angus Kernohan, Josh Jordan, Rory Butler, Robert Balacoune, Callum Smith, Michael Stronge, Eric O’Sullivan, Adam McBurney, Peter Cooper, Jack Regan, John McCusker, Aaron Hall, Stuart Doddington, Greg Jones. Replacements: Alexander Clarke, Anton Lupari, Josh Bill, Tommy O’Hagan, Tom O’Toole, Matthew Dalton, Matthew Agnew, Rhys O’Donnell, Stewart Moore.
Ulster Clubs Select: Rodger McBurney (Ballymena RFC), Tom Caesar (Exile), Andrew Morrison (Banbridge RFC), Michael Cartmill (Malone RFC), Matthew Norris (Ballymena RFC), Chris Swash, Glen Bailey (Ballymena RFC), Michael Cromie (Banbridge RFC), Peter Cromie (Banbridge RFC), Sean O’Hagan (Dungannon RFC), Ronan McCusker (Rainey RFC), Connor Smyth (Ballymena RFC), Robin Sinton (Banbridge RFC), Zac Ward (Ballynahinch RFC), Adrian Hamilton (Ballymena RFC). Replacements: Ross Harkin (City of Derry RFC), David Cave (Malone RFC), Darryl Morton (City of Armagh RFC), Steven Irvine (Banbridge RFC), James Gallagher (Harlequins), Richard Fahy, Jonny Little (Banbridge RFC), Michael Poskitt (Coleraine RFC).
All in all a useful enough exercise, though it might be worthwhile organising a few more competitive matches for the Club side against less familiar opponents.