Queen’s University lifted the First Trust Ulster Senior Cup at Ravenhill on Wednesday night, getting the better of Ballynahinch in a tight game. The win has booked a place for the Belfast students in the Ulster Bank Bateman Cup semi-finals.
2013/14 FIRST TRUST ULSTER SENIOR CUP FINAL: Wednesday, December 11
QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY 16 BALLYNAHINCH 10, Ravenhill
Scorers: Queen’s University: Tries: Stewart McIlwaine, Michael McAuley; Pens: Ritchie McMaster 2
Ballynahinch: Tries: Aaron Ferris, Matthew Arneill
Ballynahinch and Queen’s University produced an enthralling First Trust Senior Cup decider at the home of Ulster Rugby, with the students eventually prevailing 16-10.
Both sides scored two unconverted tries in an end-to-end first period, before Queen’s out-half Ritchie McMaster – who had a mixed night from the kicking tee – stepped up with two second half penalties to seal the win.
Queen’s started the stronger and managed to force a number of penalties, two of which resulted in missed attempts at goal from McMaster.
The opening period also saw ‘Hinch number 8 Neil Faloon sin-binned for a late shoulder charge, but the students were unable to capitalise on their numerical advantage.
Instead it was Ballynahinch who looked the more dangerous. The first real try scoring opportunity came on the 14 minute mark when Aaron Ferris knocked on two metres from the line after a fine counter attack involving captain Stuart Morrow and Jonny Madden.
With a resulting sustained period of pressure in the Queen’s 22, Ferris did open the scoring shortly after when he ran in untouched following good interplay from his forwards and backs. Full-back Richie Lobb failed to add the extras from the left hand touchline.
Queen’s drew level almost immediately with a try from Stewart McIlwaine. Damon Hall was the creator as his searing outside break was followed by a neat inside pass to his supporting skipper. McMaster, too, was unable to convert.
The response from ‘Hinch was equally as swift, with right winger Matthew Arneill crossing after a sweetly executed back-line move involving good hands from Harry McAleese, Ferris and Morrow. Lobb’s conversion attempt hit the post but his side now led 10-5.
Queen’s scored their second uncoverted try seven minutes from the break when the elusive Hall produced another piece of magic.
Hall’s electric footwork committed several defenders before scrum half Conor Spence released Michael McAuley to slide in on the left hand side, bringing Queen’s level for half-time at 10-all.
McMaster pushed the students in front for the first time when he converted one of two penalty attempts early in the second half.
Try scoring opportunities were limited in the third quarter as most of the match was played out in the middle of the pitch. McMaster then added another three-pointer 15 minutes from the end to extend the lead to 16-10.
As ‘Hinch pushed for a late try, Queen’s outside centre Chris Colvin was yellow carded for cynical play with two minutes left on the clock. That led to a series of forward drives under the Queen’s posts, but the students held firm in a gallant effort.
Stewart McIlwaine then stepped up to receive the Ulster Senior Cup trophy from Des Moore, Head of Personal & Business Banking at First Trust Bank. The man-of-the-match award was presented to Queen’s openside flanker Matthew Clarke.