BANGOR Academy’s rugby players are getting into the habit of reaching cup finals.

On February 20, Pollock Park, the home of Lurgan RFC, was the venue for the midday kick-off in the U18 High Schools’ Cup final between the Academy and Castlederg High School.

On a grey, overcast afternoon, Bangor had a slight wind advantage to start but Castlederg settled quickly and put them under some pressure. However a series of big carries by the Academy forwards saw them soon turn the tables and from close range, captain Harry Grant drove over the line to give Bangor a 5-0 lead after 10 minutes.

The wind suddenly picked up, the light dropped and Lurgan was hit with an almighty downpour. It quickly drenched players and spectators alike and made flowing rugby hard to achieve. 

More pressure was put on Castlederg by Bangor and after 19 minutes, Frankie Shivers found his way to the line to score the Academy’s second try, which was converted by Jonah Topping for a 12-0 lead at half-time.

Suddenly the sun came out and the wind dropped as Bangor continued to dominate. They scored again with Shivers crossing the line for a second time, pushing his lead out to a 17-0 lead.

The Academy’s forwards continued to show their dominance and Harry Grant scored a well worked try for the forwards before winger James Greizel landed a fifth try for a 27-0 lead.

Bangor Academy were forced into a few changes due to injuries which resulted in Castlederg having a late rally. They scored two converted tries in the last few minutes to leave the final score 27-14.

It was an impressive performance by the Bangor boys and a man of the match performance from captain Grant.

A week later, Bangor Academy travelled to Coleraine Grammar School to contest the final of the 2nd XV Schools’ Trophy.

Both Bangor and Coleraine had plenty of supporters to cheer them on and there was an electric atmosphere at the school grounds. 

Coleraine started the stronger and were rewarded with a try after six minutes. The Academy then eventually settled down and started applying some pressure of their own. 

It was a very tight encounter with both sides showing attacking rugby, but the defence of both sides held out, until Coleraine scored again after sustained pressure on the Bangor line to go 12-0 up at half-time.

A brighter start in the second half by Bangor saw them reduce the deficit to 12-5 after a well-worked try by Frankie Forbes. Academy continued to put pressure on the locals and scored an intercept try from Jonah Topping under the posts, which the same player converted to make it level pegging.

With the game in the balance and both sides putting in a huge effort it was Coleraine who crossed the line next. Leading 19-12 and with time running out, Bangor continued to apply lots of pressure and were very unlucky to be held up over the line on two occasions.  Eventually the pressure told, and Bangor’s Frankie Shivers crossed the line to score. With the score now 19-17 and the conversion to be the last kick of the game, all the pressure fell to Jonah to draw the match. 

The kick from out wide was not easy and Jonah struck it well but unfortunately it just missed the target. The final whistle went, and Bangor Academy fell to their knees with huge disappointment. Although the boys were absolutely gutted, they can be so proud of what they have achieved this season, reaching both finals in the two competitions they entered. 

Bangor Academy will now look to win the U16 High Schools’ Trophy when they meet Dunclug College in the final of that competition on March 20 at the Kingspan Stadium.