RBAI make it three-in-a-row at Kingspan

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By Q Radio Sport

RBAI picked up their third Danske Bank Schools' Cup title in a row as they defeated bitter Belfast rivals MCB 12-8 at the Kingspan Stadium in a thrilling final.

Two first half tries from Rhys O'Donnell and David McCann gave RBAI the victory, but MCB never made it easy for them as they hit back through a Chris Larmour try and a Paul Kerr penalty.

RBAI had the first chance at points when MCB prop Daire Morelli was pinged for not rolling away, but centre James Hume was off target with his opening shot at goal.

It was the two time defending champions who were doing most of the pressing in the early stages, dominating territory, but they couldn't get that opening score as MCB's impressive back row took control at the breakdown.

Eventually they did break the deadlock, however, as a maul was dragged down just short of the line, but it did allow scrum-half Rhys O'Donnell to snipe over from close range for the opening score in the 14th minute.

It was no less than they deserved, and eight minutes later they extended their lead even further, this time the maul going all the way over the line, second row David McCann the one emerging with the ball.

Into a prevailing wind in the first half, MCB were struggling to gain a foothold in the game and were having to soak up a lot of pressure, but as the half wore on they began to find a way back and closed the gap to one score right at the end.

The forwards did the dirty work, drawing in the defenders, before the ball was flung out the backs to winger Chris Larmour for the try two minutes from the interval.

Ironically, both sides lost their kickers to yellow cards shortly after the restart for high tackles - MCB's Paul Kerr was first to go after he hauled down Michael Lowry, before James Hume followed soon after for hitting Thomas Armstrong.

Even worse for RBAI was the loss of captain Michael Lowry, who did extremely well to prevent Larmour from crossing for his second of the afternoon, but injured himself in the process and had to be replaced.

With the wind at their backs MCB began to edge proceedings, much like RBAI in the opening half, and they reduced the gap to just four when Kerr struck over his first points of the afternoon in the shape of a 55th minute penalty.

But RBAI were not about to give up their trophy easily and they quickly switched around control of the game, assaulting the MCB line for a prolonged period, only to be repelled every time by a wall of white shirts.

However it was a case of too little too late for the MCB boys, who couldn't find a way up the field to get that title winning score, leaving RBAI to celebrate a very hard fought third title in a row in front of their raucous fans.

The scorers

Tries: O'Donnell, McCann
Con: Hume (1 from 2)

Try: Larmour
Pen: Kerr (1 from 1)

(15-9) Joseph Finnegan, Zak Davidson, James Hume, David Lyttle, Niall Armstrong, Michael Lowry (Sam Fryers 46), Rhys O'Donnell (Robin McIlveen 68); (1-8) Callum Reid, Neil Saulters, Matthew Nelson (Bailey Gribben 55), Dermot Wallace (Pierce McLernon 47), David McCann (Ethan Field 66), Patrick Finnegan, Charlie Cloke (Angus Adair 59), Yasser Omar.

Subs not used: Connor McCormick, Ethan Sloan.
Yellow card: James Hume (45')

(15-9) Kane Doherty, Ethan McIlroy (Louis Millar 66), James McConnell, Paul Kerr, Chris Larmour, Thomas Armstrong, Johnny Jordan; (1-8) Daire Morelli, Josh Trainor, Ben Crangle, Jonah Bingham, Hugh Gibbons, Cameron Kelly, Thomas Gallagher, Matty Loane (Kevin McNaboe 68).

Subs not used: Calum Conn, Emmanuel Gentry, Conor Fletcher, Conor Kelly, Matthew Neill, Louis Lowry.
Yellow card: Paul Kerr (41')

Referee: Oisin Quinn

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