Away defeat for Academy as school rugby season begins

Thursday, 14 September 2017

OMAGH Academy firsts got their regular rugby season up and running with a difficult trip away to Downpatrick to face Down High School, that knocked them out at the semi-final stage of last season's Subsiduary Shield.
With some 14 'senior' rugby players now on to pastures new, a rather inexperienced side took to the field in Downpatrick. Having Ulster U17 and U18 players Robbie Sproule and Jake McCay available was a positive, but Glenn McKinley was unavailable due to training commitments with Ulster.
Omagh's new look side took to the challenge with immediate effect putting Down under pressure early in the first half. Number eight Adam Porter made a number of abrasive runs, getting his side onto the front foot but a lack of match sharpness often saw opportunities missed with quick ball squandered. When the ball did reach the backline the runners either ran away from their support or the support simply wasn't there.
Omagh's attacking threat, a little one dimensional never really looked like breaking the Down defensive line and soon they were on the back foot after a series of penalties were conceded. At the first opportunity the Down out half pointed for posts and duly slotted the opening points of the game.
Down quickly got on the front foot again but it was Omagh's increasing penalty count that was costing them the most territory. Out of range for a punt at goal, the Down out-half kicked for the corner and from the resulting lineout the forwards mauled their way over for a converted try, taking the lead out to 10-0 on the cusp of half time.
Omagh turned at the break and now had the wind at their backs, but worsening overhead and underfoot conditions made it difficult for either team to gain any control or continuity in attack.
Both teams were excellent in defence in the second half. Omagh's Ballantine, Shiels and Lagan were impressive in midfield while McCay and Booth led the way for the forwards. Disappointingly there were no further points scored for either side and the game finished up 10-0 to the home team.
Positives can be drawn form this game, particularly with the defensive performance and attitude shown. If Omagh can keep their discipline and continue to work on their attacking game plan and decision-making, results will start to turn in their favour. A lot of hard work ahead for this new side but work they should relish.
Next week's fixtures see the first home game of the season versus Coleraine Grammar School, with kick-off 10.15am.
In other results, the junior school had a much more difficult morning at home to the impressive RBAI. All three teams lost but must be commended on their commitment right to the final whistle.


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