Royal School crowned Ulster 7ís champions

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Royal School crowned Ulster 7ís champions thumbnailThe victorious RSA 7ís squad

ON the Saturday the Royal School Armagh took a 10 man squad to Campbell College Belfast to compete in the Ulster Schools 7's Competition.
Their group consisted of Ballyclare High School, Sullivan Upper School, Belfast Royal Academy and Omagh Academy.
The first game scheduled was against Omagh Academy. After a quick warm up and finding out the fundamentals of 7's rugby of Mr Faloon they headed onto the pitch as a team for the first time.
A few phases into the game the ball was passed through a number of hands and ended up with Chris Jennings on the left who ran in and scored under the posts.
This was to be the first of many as all of the team seemed to grasp the concept of 'sevens' very well. Tries coming through Peter Wilson, Ryan O'Neill and Matthew Reaney. Half way through the second half Omagh very cleverly chipped the ball over Armagh's flat defensive line and following a hard chase were able to gather the ball and score. Armagh received possession from kick off, meaning quick hands sent Aaron Woods up the left touch line and with clever feet beat the last defender to dot down under the posts. This was to be the last try of a 63-12 victory.
After a one game break of 20 minutes the Royal now faced a harder challenge of Sullivan Upper School. Right from kick off it was obvious that this was going to be a different game.
Sullivan had been practicing and had a solid defensive line with no gaps Armagh could get through. The first score came from a Sullivan winger when he found space on the right hand side.
After kick off Armagh played a couple of phases and after a burst of acceleration from Matthew Reaney he ran a gap untouched and scored under the posts for an easy drop kick conversion.
Next play Samuel King made a hard carry up the middle and was able to get himself free and offload to Benji Boyd and scored to the left of the posts. Within the next play Sullivan touched down cancelling Armagh's previous try. The score now 19-14 to Armagh and during last play Sullivan were able to dive over the line and convert to make it a narrow 2 point defeat for Armagh.
The next two games were against Ballyclare High School and Belfast Royal Academy. This is where the Royal were able to find their real strengths.
A towering dropkick from Benji Boyd with Ryan O'Neill chasing and climbing above any defender coming near the falling ball was the winning formula. Within the first half this worked over and over again. Armagh were scoring and regaining the ball every time. With a change to this tactic, Ryan decided to slap the ball back to Nicholas Jennings who used his strength and step to beat two defenders and score under the posts.
Johnny Agnew was displaying his offloading skills multiple times throughout these two games assisting a number of tries as well as grabbing two for himself. Armagh won comfortably 31-12 and 43-12 in both of these matches.
After a loss to Sullivan and two wins, this meant that Armagh qualified 2nd in their group meaning they got the tougher draw in the Quarter final where they were to face Campbell College who were the winners of group 3.
This was the first time Armagh had a chance to play against a Campbell team when they were at home. After an initial number of mistakes from both teams Armagh were the first to link a great passage a play together and score on the right hand side with Zac Thompson stepping inside then out and touching down.
This boosted the confidence of Armagh and with continued pressure Campbell weren't able to get out of their half for the full seven minutes of the first half.
Armagh scored three tries during this time through Boyd, O'Neill and Wilson. Peter Wilson showing pure strength as he ran 20 metres with three Campbell players on his back trying to tackle him. The second half was a lot tighter with Campbell putting more phases together and were able gather their only try of the game after finding a gap in the Royal's defence.
Now Armagh were ahead and confidence was high and great communication from everyone on the pitch meant offloads were easy and Zac Thompson tipped the ball onto Christopher Jennings who was able to sit the last defender on the ground and dot down right under the posts to give them convincing lead.
Another try followed from Aaron Woods which was to mark the end of the match and a 26-5 win for Armagh who now progressed to the Semi Final stage.
Bangor was the next test and after an initial mistake meaning that Bangor were able to score off the kick off. Armagh then put themselves in the driving seat with Matthew Reaney putting in a few notable big hits and Nicholas Jennings and Johnny Agnew using their strength to gain the hard yards towards the Bangor try line.
Peter Wilson danced around a number of players and passed the ball to Ryan O'Neill who accelerated through a gap in the centre and ran half the pitch to score and make it 7-5 in the Royal's favour. Armagh had now got the hang of 'sevens' and were playing quick running rugby with none of the team wanting to take contact and with quick passes between each other were able to run around the edges and score a number of tries. The game ended 28-7 to Armagh.
The final now against Dalriada awaited the Royal, and in front of a large vocal crowd they had a chance to win the trophy. Both teams started well with Armagh and Dalriada both looking to attack around the flanks.
Bangor were the closest to scoring before an Armagh player made a tackle on the five metre line making the Bangor player knock the ball on which was gathered by Benji Boyd.
The ball was passed through the rest of the teams hands and resulted in Nicholas Jennings scoring.
This allowed Armagh to really start to play and got tries through King, Woods and Agnew. Zac Thompson used his speed to touch down in the left corner helping Armagh build up their score line. Bangor found one score, but it was not enough as Peter Wilson and Christopher Jennings were both able to touch down under the posts to score the last two tries of the game in their last ever match for the Royal School.
The game ended 47-5 to Armagh meaning the team is now the Ulster Schools 7's champions.


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