Friday, February 23, 2024

One quarter-final place clinched…another to follow for Regent?

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A BIG week is on the horizon for the rugby players of Regent House.

The Newtownards school are bidding to pull off an upset on Saturday morning when they lock horns with Dromore High at ‘The Beach’ for a place in the quarter-finals of the prestigious Schools’ Cup, a stage of the competition which Regent last made it to in 2010.

What’s more, opponents Dromore got the better of their Ards hosts when the two

sides last met in a last 16 match-up in 2022. They’ll be out to make it successive quarter-final appearances having got to the last eight a year ago, ultimately bowing out to eventual winners RBAI.

Exactly 30 years have passed since Regent’s most recent Schools’ Cup title, won in 1994, though they did share the prize with Methodist College Belfast two years later. But with 2024 seeing the school in its centenary year and rugby thriving right across the age groups, this feels like a good time to write new history.

This weekend’s clash comes after the Regent Medallion side booked their spot in the quarter-final of the Medallion Shield, thanks to a hard-fought victory over Antrim Grammar – a match which they also went into as underdogs.

Reflecting on that result and looking ahead to what promises to be an exciting local derby against Sullivan next weekend, the school’s Medallion head coach David Thompson said: “The defensive performance from the lads was exceptional and has gained praise from those who watched it. 

“We knew Antrim were expecting to win and scoring after two minutes, they may have had even more confidence. But we didn’t panic and went about our business.

“We didn’t maybe show as much composure in attack, perhaps with the occasion and nerves, but I was immensely proud of the performance from the lads and now we look forward to Sullivan away in the quarter-final. 

‘They’re a very handy team with some excellent Year 10 players playing up,” he continued.

“When you get to the quarters there are no easy teams and a local derby will always add a little spice to the occasion, but we will prepare as usual and give all we have for that semi-final place.”

As for the Schools’ Cup, Thompson insisted it will be “a battle” against Dromore.

“The 1st XV coach, Brian McLaughlin, has really got the team firing and this is a big opportunity for the school to reach the quarter-finals.

“Dromore have several Ulster and Irish school players, so we know this will be a battle, but we will take this one game at a time and we’re hoping for a big crowd to cheer the Regent lads on.”

The draw for the last 16 of the Schools’ Cup threw up a mouth-watering clash between 2023 finalists and long-standing rivals RBAI and Campbell College, while another interesting tie sees Wallace High School meet Royal School Armagh.

Sullivan, who are also fancied to go far in the 2023/24 competition, are at home to Larne Grammar School.

While the Regent Medallions were taking on Antrim Grammar at Ards Rugby Club’s Hamilton Park base, there was a bitter pill to swallow for the school 2nd XV, who overcame a 19-0 deficit before being beaten with the last kick of the game in their 2nd XV Cup quarter-final against RBAI.

Regent tee up tasty Shield derby after knocking out fancied Antrim side

DANSKE BANK MEDALLION SHIELD

REGENT HOUSE 10

ANTRIM GRAMMAR 5

REGENT House produced a heroic defensive performance to see off Antrim Grammar in the last 16 of the Medallion Shield and set up a quarter-final clash against neighbours Sullivan Upper on February 3.

With the match in jeopardy after issues around referees and frozen pitches, the surface at Hamilton Park was checked at 6.30am and with an official in place, it was game on.

Antrim have been turning heads and making people take notice with some excellent away results in the Medallion Shield to date. Regent had done their homework though, and pinpointed the dangers from the visitors’ big number six and even bigger eight, both on the Ulster panel.

A makeshift preparation week was not ideal, but Regent had a plan. Emotions were high in the changing room and each player showed in their eyes that they were up for this game.

Antrim immediately put pressure on the red line, and when their pacey right wing got round the home defence, the away side opened the scoring with the game just two minutes old. The conversion was missed.

The Antrim support was delirious and vocal. But Regent knew that a quick burst could get them a score and, from the restart, there was a turnover from Owen Black and the red attack won a penalty in the 22. Skipper Treshon James, picked, went, but was held up short. He had the awareness to get turned and present the ball and Ollie Crawford was on hand to pick and drive over the line. Zac McMinn added the extras and the Regent were in front at 7-5.

Regent though made some poor decisions in their game management and invited waves of attack from the Antrim hornets. Only in the last two minutes of the half did Regent trouble the Antrim line again, but they were caught five metres short after some great play and got no reward as the whistle went for half-time.

At the start of the second half, Regent had the wind. Pressure on the kick chase saw a turnover and Regent were awarded a penalty in front of the sticks. Zach McMinn stepped up and slotted it.

Regent had their chances, but Antrim, to their credit, kept the attacks out and had some pressure at the end of their own. The Regent defence was up in the faces of the visitors and managed to force errors. On the last play, Owen Black soared in the lineout and popped it to Jed Pountney who then kicked the ball dead, to the delight of the Regent players and supporters. 

Regent House Medallion squad

1. Oliver Patton

2. Nicholas Rajewicz

3. Oliver Crawford

4. Owen Black

5. David Hamilton

6. Fintan McDonald

7. Jamie Brown

8. Treshon James (C)

9. Jed Pountney

10. Zac McMinn

11. Dylan Robinson

12. Ethan Lappin

13. Toby McSorley

14. Marcus Allen

15. Finn McClean

16. Rob Carson

17. Harry Montgomery

18. Josh Wallace

19. Noah Bradley

20. Ben Smyth

21. Joey Carson

22. Jack Heron

Danske Bank Medallion Shield QF draw

Matches to be played Saturday, February 3

Coleraine Grammar or Royal School Armagh V Belfast Royal Academy or Enniskillen Royal

Ballymena Academy or RBAI V Campbell College Belfast

Royal School Dungannon or Dalriada V Ballyclare High School or Foyle College

Sullivan Upper v Regent House

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