Ballymena Academy 31-14 BGS
by Simon Hull
Last Saturday Bangor Grammar School's 1st XV travelled to County Antrim for a challenging fixture against Ballymena Academy.
Ross McCay of Ballymena Academy started proceedings, sending the ball deep at kickoff. After several phases of Bangor possession, scrum-half Oliver Hamilton was able to box-kick the ball up the pitch and out of harm’s way.
Through the early exchanges, Bangor Grammar were the quicker side with ball in hand. They pressed home the advantage with Gareth Wells' breakthrough try, only five minutes in. This was Gareth's first match of the season for BGS, having just completed his time with the Ulster U18s. Bangor captain Rhys Larmour was successful with the conversion.
As the first half progressed, Ballymena Academy's attacking threat developed. Stealing the ball at a Bangor lineout, their openside flanker sprinted clear; credit to Lewis Hatty for recovering to make the crucial tackle. A minute or so later, Harry Andrews powered over the Bangor try line to open his side's account. McCay was unable to add the conversion from a difficult angle.
Soon later, Bangor struck back with a try from Conor Lusty; the centre once again nimbly weaving through white shirts. Lusty has been in incredible form so far this season, and has scored in all three matches so far. Rhys Larmour was on hand for the extra two points.
The home side again retaliated, but their attack was thwarted by a foot in touch. This brought an end to the first half.
A Bangor lineout infringement ten minutes into the second half handed Ballymena a penalty. The kick could have brought them within a score of the lead, but instead ricocheted off the post and into the arms of Ryan Bull.
Ballymena's woes increased shortly later: one of their replacements was sent to the sin-bin for an off the ball incident.
Bangor failed to capitalise with a numerical advantage, and this setback only seemed to make the Academy all the more focused to score.
The turning point of the match, came fifteen minutes from the end. Opting to quick tap a penalty, Frankie Andrews was able to penetrate Bangor's line of defence. A successful conversion from Ross McCay reduced the deficit to two points.
At this stage, Ballymena had all the momentum and heads started to drop in the Bangor camp. Three tries in the closing stages from Craig Simpson, Ross McCay and Jonny Cochrane stole the match in heartbreaking fashion.
The win may have proved elusive for Bangor Grammar on this occasion, but there are still plenty of positives for the Bangor coaches and players to take away.
Next up for Bangor Grammar is Belfast High School on Saturday at Gransha.
Final Score: Ballymena Academy 31-14 Bangor Grammar School
Teamsheet: 1. Skelly, 2. Moore, 3. Cavan, 4. Bull, 5. Dobie, 6. Pritchard, 7. Murray, 8. Wells, 9. Hamilton, 10. Larmour, 11. Angus, 12. Lusty, 13. Stewart, 14. Simpson, 15. Hatty.
Substitute: 17. McCrossan
BGS Tries: Conor Lusty, Gareth Wells
BGS Conv: Rhys Larmour (x2)
BA Tries: Harry Andrews, Frankie Andrews, Craig Simpson, Ross McCay, Jonny Cochrane
BA Conv: Ross McCay (x3)