Rugby Union

Wallace hold off Methody to make Schools' Cup final

Wallace High will meet The Royal School, Armagh in the final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup on St Patrick’s Day
John Flack

WALLACE High will meet The Royal School, Armagh in the final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup on St Patrick’s Day after defeating holders Methodist College 22-17 in a closely contested game at Kingspan Stadium yesterday.

Armagh staged a stunning comeback to defeat Royal Belfast Academical Institution 29-22 in the first semi-final at the same venue on Tuesday.

The nine-time winners had trailed by 17 points in the second-half, only to hit back with four tries to secure an unlikely victory. In yesterday’s game, it was a much-changed Methody side from the one that had beaten Wallace in last year’s semi-final with 13 changes.

Nathan Doak opened the scoring with an early penalty but Methody replied with a Callum Doherty try as the lead changed hands. Wallace centres Jack Dillon and Ben Carson added two converted tries for the Lisburn school to give them a 17-5 interval lead.

Jamie McNeight crossed to make it 22-5 before Methody responded with touchdowns from Conor Spence and Harry McCartney, but Wallace held on to reach their sixth final.

However, they have yet to win the famous trophy after five previous attempts and will have a tough task ahead as they attempt to put the record straight against an Armagh side that defied the odds against RBAI on Tuesday.

Coached by former Ulster player Willie Faloon, they came back from 22-5 down to score 24 unanswered points in the last 25 minutes of a thrilling game to book their place in the decider for the 14th time.

RBAI led 8-5 at half-time thanks to a penalty and a try both scored by Ronan Boyle, with Armagh responding through a Nicholas Bothwell touchdown. The Belfast side began the second-half where they left off, adding further tries through Oliver Metcalfe and Paddy Eames, both of which were converted, to lead 22-5 and seemingly move in sight of a routine victory.

Armagh regrouped though, helped by the fact that Inst had a man sent to the sin-bin, and in an amazing turnaround three tries scored by Charlie Worth, James Allen and Josh King saw them move 24-22 ahead.

Ethan McAtarsney made sure of the win as he completed the comeback with try number five in the dying minutes to secure Armagh’s place in the final for the first time since 2018 when they lost 19-13 to Campbell College.

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