BGS 12-7 Ballyclare High School
by Simon Hull
Whilst most of Northern Ireland was sodden with autumnal rain on Saturday morning, Bangor Grammar School and Ballyclare High School slogged it out in a match of attrition at Gransha Road.
The first five minutes were relatively even-sided as both teams tried to master the greasy conditions. Understandably, handling errors were made by both sides with the ball as slippery as a wet bar of soap.
The opening try was scored by Bangor Grammar prop Ben McCrossan, who powered past two Ballyclare players before touching down in the corner. The conversion was missed.
The match was turned on its head, just short of the ten-minute mark, as Bangor scrumhalf Angus Christie was sent off for a dangerous tackle on his opposite number.
Having an extra man on the pitch didn't seem to help Ballyclare much, as Bangor's 14 remaining men rallied to press forward.
Just before half time, Ben McCrossan scored his second try, this time finding space between Ballyclare bodies to get the ball down on the line. This would be McCrossan's last contribution, as he was withdrawn at halftime having felt unwell.
Rhys Larmour was successful with his conversion attempt, but Bangor wouldn't add to their twelve-point tally in the second half.
Ballyclare High School, winners of last season's Subsidiary Shield competition, attacked the start of the second half with renewed vigour. It didn't take them long to strike back at Bangor, with a try from Adam Campbell. Mark Jackson's conversion brought the score to 12-7 with half an hour remaining.
Through the remainder of the second half, rain intensity increased and tensions heightened. During this time, both teams had a player sent to the sin bin, and on balance Ballyclare had the better chances. Bangor's excellent defence spared them more than once, by holding the ball up on the line.
In the final few minutes, Ballyclare's number 14 made a fast break on the wing. Robbie Grant and Rhys Larmour collectively dealt with the danger, pushing the player and ball into touch. Immediately, Ballyclare High advanced again, just metres out. At this point, the result was still anyone's guess, but the visitors were penalised and this was the last chance of the match. Bangor were the side celebrating the final whistle.
Last season, Bangor were on the end of a 31-10 defeat at Ballyclare, so supporters will be encouraged by this very positive result.
Next Wednesday, Bangor face Campbell College, the defending Schools' Cup champions, in Belfast. This will be the young team's toughest test so far.
Final Score: Bangor Grammar School 12-7 Ballyclare High School
BGS Team: 1. Grant, 2. Moore, 3. McCrossan, 4. Bull, 5. Wells, 6. Westwood, 7. Murray, 8. Pritchard, 9. Christie, 10. Larmour, 11. Angus, 12. Lusty, 13. Stewart, 14. McCreary, 15. McCracken.
Substitutes: 16. Skelly, 14. Simpson
BGS Tries: Ben McCrossan (x2)
BGS Conv: Rhys Larmour
BCL Tries: Adam Campbell
BCL Conv: Mark Jackson