RUGBY UNION: Foyle College come from behind to see off spirited Antrim Grammar

Thomas Cole congratulates Connall Gill after he scored Foyle College's second try against Antrim Grammar in the Schools Cup game on Saturday morning. INLS0316GS021
Thomas Cole congratulates Connall Gill after he scored Foyle College's second try against Antrim Grammar in the Schools Cup game on Saturday morning. INLS0316GS021

Foyle College will face Dalriada in the third round of the Danske Bank Schools’ Cup after a 20-8 win over Antrim Grammar at the North West venue, on Saturday morning.

It was a case of both teams displaying nerves in a first half of a game which lacked any real excitement.

Foyle coach David Barnett was happy to have reached the next round and felt his players showed super character to come from behind.

“It has been a few years since we have got to the third round,” he said.

“We got a good draw but credit to Antrim, they made us work. They were a good pack and the boys stuck at it.

“The first half didn’t go to plan but the second half we picked up our intensity and I feel that Antrim failed to match that and that saw us through.

“Their penalty to go in front that was a defining minute.

“We were worried that the heads would go down because they had a two point lead.

“But the boys responded really well, put them under pressure and got the penalty in front of the posts and that turned the game back in our favour.

“We killed them off then with two quick scores and after the second one their heads just dropped.

“Defensively we were great in the second half.

“In the first half I just thought we lost our line space and the tackles weren’t as low as we thought and we were letting them run on to us.

“We got in their faces in the second half and we just saw their bodies starting to drop and that was key for us mentally because we could see that they couldn’t cope.

“We just had to keep the pressure on and that’s what we did.”

Both struggled to gain any real control and the only points separating the teams at the break came from the boot of Matthew Orr when he converted a penalty opportunity to give Foyle a 3-0 lead.

Antrim started the second half very strongly and team captain, Daniel McGrandles, took advantage of a great lineout from his fellow forwards.

The ball was secured and the resultant driven maul was finished off with a try when Daniel grounded the ball.

The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Antrim Grammar School team had a 5-3 lead.

The Foyle College team responded positively and a penalty opportunity was stroked away by Orr to swing the lead back in their favour 6-5.

Foyle College then conceded a penalty, which Sam Gordon converted, to retake the lead with the scoreboard reading 8-6 in their favour midway through the second half.

The Londonderry boys found another gear in the final quarter of the game to run out comfortable victors.

From a lineout the home team moved the ball to their midfield.

Centre, David Jackson, outflanked the Antrim defence but was tackled just short of the goal line.

The ball was quickly recycled and the passage of play ended with Conall Gill touching down for a try.

Orr added the extras to see Foyle into a 13-8 lead.

With five minutes remaining a loose Antrim pass was gratefully intercepted by Conall Gill. He ran in for a try, which was converted by Orr, to secure the 20-8 victory.