ROSS Hunter and his Omagh Academy 1st XV will be hoping for home comfort when they launch their annual bid for Danske Bank Schools’ Cup glory against old foes Bangor Grammar on Saturday morning.
The third round tie will be hosted at Campsie Playing Fields, although Omagh Rugby Club has also been provisionally booked should the weather continue to do its worse.
Whereever or whenever the eagerly-awited tie is played the Omagh boys face a tough challenge against the seasiders. Those old enough to remember will be well aware that it was Bangor who denied the Academy in their one and only showpiece final appearance way back in 1985 when a certain Mark McCall, the former Ulster and Ireland player and current coach of Saracens, was their star player.
Mind you a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. Both Omagh and Bangor have had inconsistent seasons thus far and that being the case Hunter will be emphasising to his players the importance of making the most of home advantage.
“It’s always key in the Schools’ Cup,” said the Academy head coach.
“By all accounts Bangor’s season, a bit like our own, has been up and down.
“That’s all the more reason then that we make the most of the fact that they have to travel.”
“We’ve had a couple of standout games this season. Early in the season we drew 28-28 with Coleraine (CAI). They produced a superb comeback but we played some fantastic rugby that day. At Halloween we defeated Lurgan College 28-12 and everything we did that day came off. That performance will be the template and our focus and we’ll be looking to replicate that for sure. Priority will be to deny or slow down possession for our opponents to prevent their backline getting quality ball.
“On the flip side winning the battle up front will be key in attack where we’ll look to use the lineout as a launchpad. Everything points to a close encounter and it goes without saying that we will need to be at our best to come through this one.”
Team: Nathan Kilfedder, Peter McKelvey, Glenn McKinley, Jake McCay, Robbie Sproule, Phillip Rainey, Troy Booth, Ryan Armstrong, Michael Marechaux, Rory Ritchie, Bailey Irvine, Taine Lagan, Scott Ballantine, Finn Small, Jake Liggett, Matthew Bell, Jordan Brolly, Stuart Nelson, Niall Alexander, Adam Porter, Oisin Shiels, Will Stewart, Matthew Gillis, Harry Stephenson, Caine Johnston, Matthew Hunter.
Saturday’s tie kicks off at 10.30am
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