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2015/16 Season



FIXTURE LIST 2015/16

Date Competition Opposition 1st XV 2nd XV 3rd XV 4th XV Med 'A'  Med 'B'  U14 'A' U14 'B' U13 'A' U13 'B' U 12
                           
05-Sep   Limavady Tournament x                    
12-Sep   Foyle (A) x x     x   x   x    
19-Sep   Regent (A) x x     x   x   x    
26-Sep   Armagh (A) x x     x   x   x    
30-Sep Wednesday Omagh (H) x x     x            
03-Oct   Banbridge (H) x x     x   x   x    
10-Oct   Wellington College (H) x x     x            
17-Oct   Dungannon Royal (H) x x     x   x   x    
24-Oct   Foyle (H) x x     x   x   x    
31-Oct   Half term                      
07-Nov   Belfast Met (A) x       Wallace A   Wallace A   Wallace A   Wallace A
14-Nov   Coleraine Inst (A) x x     x   x   x    
21-Nov   Portadown College (H) x x     x            
28-Nov   Limavady Grammar (A) x x     x   x   x    
05-Dec CupR1MedR1 Sligo Grammar x x     x   x   x    
09-Dec                          
12-Dec   Kilicomaine JHS             x   x    
19-Dec   Omagh (A) x x     x   x   x    
26 dec?                          
02-Jan Shield R2 Belfast High (A) x x                  
09-Jan Cup R2 Kilicomaine JHS             x   x    
16-Jan Shield R3 Carrick Grammar (A) x x     x   x   x    
23-Jan Cup R3 Dungannon Royal (A) x x     x   x   x    
30-Jan Shield R4 Sullivan (A) x x     x   x   x   x
06-Feb Cup R4 Strabane Academy (H)   x     x       x    
13-Feb HT 1/4 Shield                        
20-Feb 1/4 Finals Belfast High (A) Juniors only         x   x   x    
27-Feb 1/2 Shield Armagh (H) x x     x   x   x    
05-Mar Shield/Bowl Lurgan College (A) x x     x            
12-Mar                          
19-Mar                          

A and H highlights the senior teams and opposite for Juniors i.e Medallion, u14 and u13

PRS Medallions v Dromore H.S.

 

If Portora Medallions do win some silverware this season they will feel that they have truly earned it. Battered, bruised and with a lengthy list of injuries the squad met another heavier, stronger pack when they hosted Dromore High School in a quarter final of the Medallion Bowl.

 

With the home advantage Portora made good use of the fact that Dromore had just completed a lengthy bus journey by rucking and running hard from the first whistle. Although a good deal smaller the home pack dominated rucks, mauls and line outs for the opening 10 minutes and repeatedly attacked around the fringes of the rucks. While they should learn to vary the width of their attacks Ally Jones at prop made good ground on every occasion and the clearing out by his colleagues was exemplary. The backs probed the opposition’s midfield with centre, Alex Parke, making the most significant inroads. Portora kept pressure on the visitors moving them from side to side, a tactic that finally paid dividends when a slick back move sent Harry Dane over in the corner. Craig Johnston’s conversion attempt missed the posts by a whisker.

 

From this point on the Dromore pack began to show increased aggression and the forward battle became more balanced. Portora aided and abetted the visitor’s resurgence by giving away a string of unnecessary penalties which brought Dromore to within 5 metres of their try line where the County Down men implemented a controlled set of pick and goes to cross the whitewash in the dying seconds of the first half. Their out-half slotted the conversion to leave the score at half time 7-5 in favour of the visitors.

 

The second half developed into two, almost separate, contests. The Portora forwards struggled to contain an increasingly dominant Dromore pack who set up some excellent rolling mauls mixed with fast pick and goes. Meanwhile the Dromore backs were desperately fending off relentless attacks from the Portora midfield trio of Mills, Crawford and Parke. For most for the half the best chances fell to Portora. On two occasions a final pass from centre to wing would have resulted in scores and when Portora did succeed in crossing the line in a melee of attackers and defenders the referee wisely decided that discretion was the better part of valor awarded a five metre scrum. From the set piece Dromore strayed off side and Johnston was given an easy penalty to put Portora back in the lead 8points to 7.

 

In the final tense minutes of the match Dromore came back strongly assisted, once again, by needless infringements by their opposition. Their pack was now well in control, so much so that when they were awarded a penalty 15metres out from the Portora line they decided on a forward rush rather than a relatively simple kick at goal. However, the Portora defence was immense in these, the dying seconds of the game and a frustrated Dromore pack gave away a penalty which Portora captain, Mark Crawford, gratefully hammered into touch as the final action of a nail biting game. 

 

Dromore will be bitterly disappointed to be put out of the competition by the slimmest of margins while a relieved Portora much go away to reflect on those missed passes before meeting Bangor Grammar School on the 13th of February.





PORTORA R.S. MEDALLION vs Banbridge Academy

Jan 26rd, 2016

 

The Portora Medallions were well aware at the beginning of the season that they were not the biggest team in their age group, unlike the 2014/15 team, and so they worked hard on mobility, fitness and skills. Judging by their results to date they could claim some success in that regard. However, taking on heavier sides week after week eventually leads to wear and tear which has, in this case, led to multiple concussions, dislocated joints and a plethora of sprains and twists, all quite “normal” in the modern very physical game. Unfortunately for Portora their Medallion squad is short in numbers as well as stature so despite talented under 14 players stepping up a year to plug some of the gaps the team was always going to be under the cosh at this end of the season.

 

A very hard fought 3 all draw against Banbridge Academy at home last Saturday led to more injuries, in particular, another concussion and a 3 week convalesence, this time to their top try scorer from last season, Curtis Coalter. Due to Portora being unable to host the Banbridge match 10 days ago due to bad weather they were obliged to go back to Banbridge for the replay just three days after Saturday’s match. It was just a bridge too far, forgive the pun.

 

A gale force wind on Banbridge’s “Mount Misery” made it difficult for both teams but despite this there was some excellent rugby on show. The impasse that had developed during the first match at the Eisenhower pitches on Saturday continued with all of the rugby being played between the two 22m lines. Unfortunately for the visitors the stalemate came to an end in the last minute of the first half. Banbridge had worked their way up to Portora’s 5m line where they gave the ball to their number 8, Robbie Mathers. Mathers has scored 20 tries this season and Portora had managed his threat for almost an hour and a half of rugby with brave, low tackles. On this occasion, perhaps because he was so close to the line, they tried to hold him up, but without success. Conversions in this wind were like hens teeth so when the whistle blew a moment later the score at half time remained at 5-0 in favour of the home side.

 

The try, after such a long period of struggle between the two sides, gave Academy just enough encouragement to tip the balance of the game. Portora continued to attack but were always just one tackle away from scoring. The excellent Banbridge full back made two try saving tackles on Alex Parke and one on winger Harry Dane. Academy on the other hand managed to convert their chances when they got close to the Portora line with two more forward drives and two more scores. Their out half, Jack Carson even managed to squeak a conversion over despite the wind.

 

Although the signs were looking ominous Portora were still in the game. They had been moving the heavier opposition around the field at every opportunity, waiting for the gaps to appear. Unfortunately before that came to pass there was an incident that sealed the game for Banbridge. Mathers, carrying the ball on the charge, smashed into prop, Andrew Dane, one of Portora’s most able player and an Ulster U16 Academy player from last season. Dane was laid out flat and at the ensuing ruck his brother Harry took exception to the manner of his downfall and tried to seek retribution only to be sent to the sin bin for dangerous play. Not only did Portora lose two of it’s best players in the space of a minute but Banbridge compounded the damage when they flashed the ball to their backs from the subsequent penalty to score on the wing just recently vacated by the Portora miscreant.

 

Ironically, the final 10 minutes proved to be Portora’s best period of the match. The Banbridge players had finally started to tire, gaps did begin to appear and the visitors finally showed what they can do with even the smallest of spaces. Parkes, who was having another excellent game, was joined in attacking the Banbridge mid field by a re-energised Mark Crawford and a skilful Robbie Mills. The forwards responded well and reinstated the dominance they had achieved in the first match. Crawford, who has to have more confidence in his attacking ability, broke through the first lines of defence three times before finally escaping to score Portora’s only try of the match. Craig Johnston converted. Portora attacked again with renewed vigour and a second try seemed inevitable until the referee blew for full time. The final score in this tough and bruising encounter was Banbridge 22, Portora 7.

 

A battered but unbowed Portora side now play in the quarter-finals of the Medallion Bowl on Saturday, January 30th against Dromore High School, most probably at the Eisenhower Playing Fields.





PORTORA R.S. MEDALLION vs Banbridge Academy

Jan 23rd, 2016

When two teams with almost identical records for their Medallion season meet it’s hardly surprising that a tight match is likely to ensue and that’s exactly what happened when Portora hosted Banbridge Academy in the 3rd Round of the Medallion Shield. It was a case of the unstoppable force and the immovable object.

For those watching the first 15 minutes the final score of 3 points all must have seemed a highly unlikely result. Portora drove the visitors off the very first ruck and didn’t relinquish possession for the next 6 minutes when they banked their advantage with a well taken penalty kick by Craig Johnston. The home team may well look back at the next 10 minutes of the match and wonder why they didn’t put the game to bed during this period. Earlier in the season Portora had beaten Banbridge using forward drives combined with accurate corner kicking from out half, Mark Crawford, and no doubt they calculated a similar strategy would allow them to prevail once again.

The forwards continued to dominate the opposition pack and gave their backs ample ball which they duly kicked deep into the Banbridge half making good use of the following wind. Unfortunately the strategy was much less successful this time. Crawford had just completed a three week concussion suspension on the previous day and, unsurprisingly, was not on top form, eventually having to retire with a hamstring worry. In addition Banbridge had considerably strengthened their defence on the wings.  Had Portora been a little more experienced they would have noticed that just as the visiting forwards were slow to start in the rucks and mauls so their backs were slow to organise themselves in defence and many opportunities for overlaps out wide were missed. The first half finished a mere 3-0 to Portora despite them having maintained the majority of the possession throughout.

During the second half the visitor’s pack reduced Portora’s dominance in rucks and mauls although they failed to make any headway in the line outs where Jack Kennedy, Chris Balfour and Ally Jones dominated. Portora could still claim the greater percentage of possession and they switched to more handling moves in the backs. Both defences were very strong during this period with Portora quickly smothering any Banbridge back line attacks while the back row of William Dowson, John Allan and the indefatigable Sam Frasier prevented Banbridge’s top scorer, number 8, Robbie Mathers, from making more than a few metres at a time. Mathers did, however, manage to put in a few bone crunching tackles. The visitor’s defence was equally successful, holding prop Andrew Dane up a few feet from the try line and shepherding what seemed like a certain score by the exciting Alex Parke into touch. They finally received some reward for their considerable efforts when their out half, Jack Carson, slotted over a easy penalty to level the scores at 3 – 3.

There is little doubt that Portora were the more dangerous of the two sides and they had more opportunities to clinch the game but Banbridge will be happier with the result as Portora now have to travel to County Down on Tuesday for the replay. Of concern to Portora will be the  injuries to Mark Crawford, Harry Dane, Chris Balfour and Curtis Coalter, the results of a tough, attritional game of rugby. More encouraging were the performances of substitutes Craig Humes, Niel Graham and Robbie Mills and Portora must fancy their chances of completing the task next week, even if it is away at Banbridge.

REPLAY AT BANBRIDGE TUE 26TH 2PM KO



PORTORA R.S. MEDALLION vs Enniskillen RFC Under 16s
January 2nd 2016

The replay between these two local sides provided another close match in what were comparatively benign conditions at the Eisenhower fields. Despite a size disadvantage the Portora forwards secured the greater percentage of possession and had they fed their backs more often the score line would undoubtedly have shown a much bigger gap. As it was the two packs went at it hammer and tongs with the play moving back and forth between the two 22m lines, neither side really getting the upper hand.

When the backs were brought into play it was clear, to those watching at least, that the advantage lay heavily with Portora. Alexander Parke, at second centre, jinked through the opposition defence with alarming ease and was stopped just short of the line by despairing tackles on two occasions before escaping to score Portora’s first try. The on form Craig Johnston converted.

Curtis Coalter, at first centre and wings Harry Dane and Ben Donaldson were also making good breaks. Donaldson, in particular, showed some silky running skills but it was good interplay between the backs and determination by Coalter that took the centre over for Portora’s second try. Once again Johnston converted to bring the half time score to 14-0 in favour of Portora.

A feature of the game was the awarding of three yellow cards, two against Enniskillen for persistent handling in the rucks and one against Portora for multiple off-sides. Although rare at this level the decisions to award the three cards were perfectly correct as the number of blatant offences was threatening to spoil an otherwise well contested game.

The second half saw little change in the pattern of the match with the ball staying mainly with the forwards. It was ironic therefore that Enniskillen’s only try of the match came when their wing, Lee Lindsay, picked up a loose ball and cut his way through the Portora back line to score an individual try under the posts. Oisin Monaghan converted. As the game went on and both sides tired the play became scrappy with a penalty each being the only other scores. The final result was 17-10 for Portora. The Portora coaches will be frustrated that their players didn’t make use of a significant advantage in the backs while the Enniskillen coaches will, no doubt, be discussing the penalty count with their players at the next training session. On more positive notes for Portora Craig Humes performed well at out half replacing the injured Mark Crawford and Craig Johnston brought his place kicking results up to 7 out of 8 over the last two matches. The sharp refereeing was also of particular benefit to the Portora squad as they set out on a Medallion Shield campaign in which they will be given very little room for error.

 

 

 

 



PORTORA R.S. MEDALLION vs Belfast H.S.

Sandwiched between Eva and Frank, there was a brief spell of calm and the sun came out on the slopes of Slieve True on the north shore of Belfast Lough where Belfast High School was playing host to Portora 1st XV and their Medallions. Conditions were perfect and the pitches were as good as Joe Pat Prunty and a conscientious maintenance department could provide.

This particular Medallion side had narrowly lost to Belfast High at the end of their U14 season and they were anxious to set things right, regardless of the 2 hour bus journey. A good deal of work had gone into correcting deficiencies in the rucking that let the side down against Omagh Academy at the start of the Christmas holidays. Old Portoran Ross Finlay, now a high ranking coach with the Scottish RFU, took a number of sessions and he would have been very pleased with the aggressive start made by Portora. They dominated both ruck and maul and soon moved their way up to the High School’s 22m line. The backs kept matters simple by running hard at the opposition, breaking the gain line on almost every attempt. Forwards and backs linked well for the first try when Ally Jones broke from the back of a ruck to feed Curtis Coalter who outpaced the opposition to cross the line. Craig Johnston converted.

For the next 20 minutes the visitors played some of their best rugby of the season. The pack, led by John Allan at No. 8, used a mixture of “pick and go” and three man pods to keep possession while pushing their opponents relentlessly back up the pitch. Andrew Dane, Chris Balfour and Sam Frasier were particularly effective. By occasionally linking with the backs to change the point of attack they kept the opposition defence from settling and gaps began to appear. The elusive centre, Alexander Parke, soon found a narrow space to slip through and evaded the High School full back to bring up Portora’s second try.

The visitors kept up the pressure and the High School was obliged to kick away a good deal of possession in an effort to escape their own half. Craig Humes, at fullback, collected effortlessly and ran back at the opposition making considerable ground on every occasion. Jack Kennedy ensured Portora got more than their fair share of line out possession and hooker, John Fitzpatrick, was more than equal to his opponent in the scrums. The visitor’s all round dominance kept them deep in the High School 22 and, despite some shows of “white line” fever, the tries eventually followed. Harry Dane showed great finishing skills to complete a backs move to score a wingers try in the corner and Chris Balfour pounced from the back of a ruck to touch down on the blind side. Despite a strengthening breeze Johnston kicked both conversions from out near the side lines.

Whether due to complacency or to fatigue, Portora failed to drive home their advantage during the final period of the match. A missed tackle in the backs let the High School in for a converted try and a few minutes later they scored again when their forwards successfully besieged the Portora line. Fortunately Johnston prevented a third try with an excellent tackle on the High School’s inside centre, their strongest player, and Portora finally re-established control of the game. A forty metre sprint by flanker, William Dowson, gave them their final try which Johnston converted, once again. The score line finished 33 – 12 to the visitors.

A very successful trip to Belfast High School was slightly marred when it was discovered that their influential out half, Mark Crawford, had suffered concussion in the last minute of the match and may be out for the first round of the Medallion Shield.




PORTORA R.S. MEDALLION vs Omagh Academy
December 19th 2015

The Medallions faced a much changed side from the one they beat 25-0 at home in September. Omagh fielded a bigger, stronger back five who were both athletic and quick and comprehensively outgunned Portora in the ruck. Their out half used the ample supply of ball to very good effect kicking deep into the visitor’s half, helped by a strong wind at his back. Craig Johnston and Craig Humes fielded well but the strength of the wind precluded any significant distance from their clearance kicks and Portora found themselves having to defend their line for a good deal of the first half.

The visitors held their line for the first 10 minutes but with so much possession and such a weight advantage Omagh eventually forced their way over close to the posts. Their out half had little difficulty with the conversion. The home side repeated the process five minutes later and appeared to have scored in the corner. The referee had been blindsided when a clear knock on occurred on the lead up to the try and although he initially awarded it, he later, very fairly, revoked the score. Omagh continued with their kicking tactic but with less accuracy and Portora had time to touch down a number of long kicks which went over the try line. Unfortunately, from one of the subsequent 22m drop outs the Portora back line broke ranks during their chase and left gaps for the opposition centres to exploit. The centres showed some excellent handling and good support play to cross the line and give Omagh their second try, which they also converted.

Towards the end of the first half a subtle change in the dynamics of the match began to appear. Portora started to win a few more rucks with Chris Balfour and Sam Frasier being very prominent during this period. The backs got to see a bit more of the ball and for the first time in the match began to threaten the Omagh line.

This mood carried into the second half and with the wind now behind the Fermanagh men, Mark Crawford pinned Omagh back in their own half with some accurate kicking. With the exception of one brief break out, during which the home side would have scored had they not dropped the ball, the entire second half was played in the Omagh half. With a greater share of ruck ball Portora launched attack after attack but Omagh had not suddenly become a poor team during the break and they defended as well in the second half as they had attacked in the first. Portora kept up the pressure and had four clear chances to cross the try line, all of which they managed to muck up. Inaccurate passes and failures to pass made it a very frustrating time for Portora supporters on the sideline. Crawford eventually broke the deadlock when he pounced on a loose ball and sprinted over for Portora’s only score of the match. Johnston’s conversion missed by a whisker to leave the final score at 14-5 in favour of Omagh.

There is no doubt that Omagh were the better team, just, and they deserved their win. A good deal of work to achieve quicker and more decisive rucking will be needed by Portora over Christmas if they hope to progress in the forthcoming Medallion Shield. They will, at least, be very happy with their defending which was immense. The line outs were also well contested despite Omagh featuring two useful players standing at 6 feet 5 inches, not what you expect to see at Medallion level. Portora enter the Shield at the 3rd Round with the draw being made on January 2nd. One suspects they may be happy to avoid this Omagh team, for a round or two at least.



 

PORTORA R.S. MEDALLION vs Portadown
November 2015

Portora had approximately 70% of possession and about the same in terms of the territory in this game but still managed to lose by a comfortable margin. They consistently squandered good scoring chances and logged a catalogue of errors, errors that the Portadown team were well capable of capitalising on.

The visitors got off to a flying start. By driving into rucks more aggressively and breaking away from them much more quickly than their opponents they brought themselves up to the Portora line within a matter of two minutes. A good Portadown scrumhalf sniped around the side of a ruck and Portora were a try down before they had caught their breath. Fortunately there was no panic amongst the home side which seemed to wake up and set about getting into their normal game plan. That brought it’s rewards and for the next 20 minutes they camped inside the Portadown half but, frustratingly, every promising attack faltered due to a silly penalty or a dropped ball.

As with the Dungannon match three weeks earlier the number of penalties Portora gave away eventually told and Portadown were not only allowed to escape but were offered the opportunity to mount an attack close to the Portora line. This they did very effectively. Their number 8 broke from the back of the scrum, Matthew McConkey at scrum half was obliged to tackle him, the 8 off loaded to his scrum half who committed the Portora wing, Harry Dane, leaving the Portadown winger a free run in. The score at half time was 12-0 to the visitors.

The errors and the penalties continued into the second half. Mark Crawford, whose kicking out of hand until this point had been excellent, had a clearance kick charged down for another Portadown score. This was followed by the visitors kicking through a fumbled Portora ball, following up well and scoring to take their total to 22 points. While Portadown were quick to take every opportunity presented to them Portora were, unfortunately, failing to take theirs. A great break by Curtis Coalter in the centre took his team to within a couple of metres of the try line only for the forwards to give away another penalty at the ensuing ruck. Alex Parke, usually so dependable, scythed through the opposition defence but mistimed the try scoring pass to Dane on the wing. Shortly afterwards Dane reciprocated by falling on a ball that Parke was trying to kick over the Portadown try line for a sure score.

Only in the last five minutes did they keep the ball and their discipline long enough to get to the opposition try line. Following a number of attempts to force their way through, the forwards eventually drove over with Aly Jones at the head. Craig Johnston converted to bring some respectability to final score of 22 – 7. Not Portora’s best game by a long way but considering the number of players playing out of position or missing, not as bad as the score line suggests.


PORTORA R.S. MEDALLION vs Coleraine
November 2015

Two years ago when these sides met aged Under 13, Coleraine won 34-0, at Portora. Last year Portora had to come back from 17 to nil down to scrape a close win. This year, despite a lapse in concentration in the middle of the first half, preceded by the loss of their number 8, John Allan, to concussion, Portora never looked like losing.

That is not to say it wasn’t a hard earned win. Coleraine were very competitive. They have a solid, well rounded team with an excellent number 8 and a very quick back three. However, the home forwards were just too strong and too aggressive when it came to the rucks and mauls. They harried and hounded the opposition with Chris Balfour, John Fitzpatrick and the ubiquitous Sam Frazier all making their presence felt. Excellent rucking by all eight forwards and good control by half backs Matthew McConkey and Mark Crawford allowed Portora to escape when under pressure and attack the open spaces when they appeared.

The first try came from the home side when Crawford gave Ben Donaldson a well timed pass on the blind side just outside the visitors 22. Donaldson raced for the corner and was just about to dive for the line when the Coleraine winger caught him with a high tackle. The referee had little option other than to award a penalty try which Craig Johnston converted. Portora were clearly the stronger side but they very quickly paid the penalty for letting themselves believe that the game was won. Very shortly after the try Coleraine spun the ball out to their right wing, he linked with his full back to make an overlap which allowed them a simple score.

Portora came back, consistently running strong pods and working their way towards the visitor’s line. Any attempt to break back by Coleraine was quickly closed down mostly due to the outstanding tackling of Alexander Parke, well supported by his centre partner, Curtis Coalter. Relieving kicks were competently fielded by Portora full back, Johnston who has, thankfully, stopped letting the ball bounce before trying to secure it. He counterattacked where possible, making good ground and keeping the pressure on Coleraine. That pressure eventually led to another Portora try, this time by Frasier who broke through three tackles to score.

Once again the home side’s concentration slipped during the excitement that followed their score. The visitor’s full back received the ball in what seemed an unpromising position but managed to jink and twist his way through a slack Portora defence to bring his side back into the game at 12 points to 10. The conversion attempt failed by the narrowest of margins.

The loss of Allan in the back row should have weakened the Portora team but the emergence of Fitzpatrick as a credible hooker and a fearsome combatant allowed the mobile William Dowson to move to number 8, a position he seems very comfortable in. When Allan returns in a month’s time he will combine with Dowson, Frasier and Aly Jones to give Portora strength and depth in perhaps the three most influential positions in the modern game.

Portora dominated the second half allowing the visitors just a single, unproductive incursion into their 22. Balfour bullied his way over the line at the front of a marauding pack to score a try that was just reward for the disruption his hard work had caused in the opposition ranks throughout the game. Harry Dane, learning from an early moment of madness when he decided to kick and chase a ball that just needed to be picked up and passed for a score, dived on a similar loose ball, rolled onto his feet and sidestepped two Coleraine defenders to score the last try of the match. Johnston converted to leave the final score at 24 to 10 in favour of Portora. This, despite the weather conditions, was probably the Medallion’s best outing of the season.



PORTORA R.S. MEDALLION vs Enniskillen RFC
November 2015


A home derby between erstwhile team mates provided an entertaining match at Mullaghmeen on Saturday. Portora’s Medallion side took on a mixture of U15 and U16 players from Enniskillen on a morning that threatened heavy rain but, fortunately, failed to deliver in that regard. The match on the other hand delivered a well contested game of rugby with both sides taking the opportunity to give their benches some game time.

Although there was very little between the teams for the entire match Enniskillen would have to be given the nod for the first 15 minutes. David Patton, Daniel Rolfe and Aaron Clarke were strong in the ruck for the Skins where they battled well with Andrew Dane, Chris Balfour and Sam Frasier. Patton also carried well and made a number of powerful runs. Unfortunately a lack of organisation behind the ruck meant that Enniskillen failed to capitalise on their dominance with the ball going astray or loose forwards impeding Matthew Brown’s distribution.

As the game wore on Portora began to match the Skin’s forwards and with consistently accurate kicking from out half Mark Crawford they started to put pressure on the Enniskillen line. A Medallion back move led to a good break by winger Harry Dane who was stopped by David Quill 15m short of the try line. However, the visiting forwards piled in behind Dane and drove him the rest of the way for the first points of the game. Craig Johnston, who seems to be solving the Medallions place kicking problems, stroked an excellent conversion.

Enniskillen came back strongly. Cormac Boylan, Garvin Gilleece and Jack McKee joined their fellow forwards in producing good runs and some fine series of pick and go’s. They repeatedly came close to crossing the Portora line but a lack of organisation and a little indiscipline let them down at the last moment. From one ensuing penalty Crawford’s kick unusually failed to find touch thanks to a good tap back from the Enniskillen left winger. Then, for some strange reason nearly every player on park stopped to see what decision the ref, Robbie Watson, would make. Not so Harry Dane. He was following up Crawford’s kick and when none of the Enniskillen players picked up the ball he simply booted it over the try line, chased after it and touched it down. The referee found no fault with the play and Johnston was permitted to try for the extra points which he did successfully with another fine conversion. Enniskillen got their first points on the boards when Oisin Monaghan kicked a superb penalty in the dying moments of the first half to leave the score 14 -3 in favour of the visitors.

The second half provided more of the same, a fierce struggle in the forwards with the more organised Portora backs making better use of their share of the ball. Both sides brought on subs during the second period and although they performed well there was no seismic shift in the pattern of play. Harry Dane put himself forward for Man of the Match with a penalty kick to add to his two tries but he would have found good competition for the award in the shape of Portora hooker, John Fitzpatrick, who turned the ball over four times in good Sean O’Brien style.

The match was played in an excellent spirit and although the final score line of 17pts to 3pts may flatter the visitors one suspects it will have been very instructive for both sets of coaches going forward.



PORTORA R.S. MEDALLION vs Foyle College
October 2015


The Medallions travelled with just 14 players this week due to five players being unavailable and a disappointing “no show”. They seemed tired coming off the bus and were slow to start, the first period of the match against Foyle was played entirely inside the visitors half. Portora were also extremely slow to close down the opposition, perhaps due to a lack of clarity on the defensive roles caused by players being asked to play out of position. The home team took full advantage and in wet and windy conditions they ran in four tries through their forwards in the first half to leave the score at the break a rather sobering 24 point to nil.

Portora have beaten Foyle on the last three occasions at this age level, a point they were reminded of during a sharp half time team talk by coach, Mark Dowson. A much chastened and, thanks to their new interval refreshment of jelly babies, a more energetic side emerged for the second half. Their mobile hooker, William Dowson, gave the visitors their first points with a solo sprint from the half way. When Craig Johnston converted Portora heads began to lift and confidence started to return. Contrastingly, turnovers at the ruck by John Fitzgerald and Tom Pendry did little for Foyle’s confidence and when Dowson came of the back of a well executed and controlled rolling maul to score his second under the posts the game changed utterly. Johnston completed Portora’s resurgence with the conversion.

The team had given away too many penalties against Dungannon during their last match and they were given a refresher course on the rules affecting the ruck by referee Jonny Gibson during the week. It paid dividends and with only one penalty against them in this match they were able to take full advantage of some great forward play. They controlled the pace of play and showed superior fitness and stamina in the latter stages of the game. Matthew McConkey picked up the ball in the Foyle half, broke on the blind side to set up a ruck inside the Folye 22m line. Chris Balfour picked from the base to force his way over and Mark Crawford converted.

After that, time was the only parameter that was going to stop a Portora win and unfortunately, it did. In the last few minutes Craig Humes was within a whisker of breaking through to score and Curtis Coalter put a foot in touch a metre from the opposition line. In the end Foyle hung on to win by 24 points to 21. A disappointing result considering the history between the teams but Portora have the satisfaction of an almost penalty free match and an outstanding second half performance.





PORTORA R.S. MEDALLION SUMMER TOUR 

August 28th-30th 2015

Dublin

The Medallion tour was proposed by Mr Hodgson in response to the player’s commitment to pre-season training during the summer break. This year’s squad is well aware that it has a hard act to follow as last season’s Medallions lost to just one school all season. They reached the quarter-finals of the Medallion Shield, losing to the eventual winners, RBAI.

The 2015/16 squad completed an unprecedented 20 pre-season training sessions and so well deserved their trip to Dublin. They travelled down on Friday, 28th, booked into the Travelodge at Phoenix Park and headed straight for their first match at Coolmines RFC. There the welcome was warm, the pitch was immaculate and the weather was fine. Coolmines fielded their Under 15 side which, although an average of 6 months older, had only had a couple of pre-season training sessions. What they lacked in fitness they made up for in numbers with a squad of 35 players and a great level of vocal support. However, it very quickly became clear that the visitors were a good deal sharper, a lot better organised and had a much clearer plan of attack. In the opening 20 minutes the Portora team played at a pace and accuracy that was simply too much for the home side. Individual scores by Sam Frasier, Mark Crawford and a beautiful ‘dummy and dive’ by Matthew McConkey were balanced by three tries that involved multiple team members working in close support.

Coolmines came back in the middle period and were rewarded with their first and only score of the match through a very capable centre pairing. Portora’s superior fitness told in the later stages and they spread the ball wide at every opportunity. Two scores from wings Harry Dane and Ben Donaldson completed a comprehensive win.

 

The tour continued on Saturday morning with a play in Collins Barracks based on a rugby team from middle class Ireland who joined up for the first world war and all the tragedy that ensued. From Bachelor’s Walk the squad went to the Aviva to watch Ireland contest a relatively poor match with Wales and finished the day with the film Southpaw at Dundrum Shopping Centre. On Sunday they commandeered a pitch in Phoenix Park on a gloriously sunny morning to prepare for Barnhall RFC in the afternoon. If the Portora coaches were hoping for a more challenging match than Friday's, then they weren't disappointed. Barnhall didn't have an Under 15 team so fielded their Under 16's instead and for the first 5 minutes of the match the visitors appeared a little shell shocked. Barnhall took full advantage and ran in a quick score in centre field. Over the next 10 minutes Portora fought hard to address their most pressing problem which was the home team’s greater strength at the rucks and therefore Portora's lack of ball. By increasing their speed to the ruck and their aggression when they got there they began to win back their share of the ball. Flanker, Sam Frasier, and prop, Neil Graham, featured strongly in this and they gave out-half Mark Crawford a more stable platform. Crawford used a combination of accurate kicks to his wings and passes to his running centres, Alex Parke and Curtis Coalter to move Portora up to the Barnhall line. A stolen ball at the line-out allowed John Allan at no.8, well supported by William Dowson, to power through the Barnhall defence and stretch a long arm over to even the scores.

For Portora this was to be the highlight of the central period of the match. Barnhall's superior strength, size and speed proved too much for the school side and they conceded 5 tries without response. Backs, Matthew Brown, Craig Humes, Matthew McConkey, James Willis and Craig Johnston did an excellent job of stemming the flow but constant defence, however brave, takes a toll, and injuries began to occur. By the time the match reached the final quarter Portora had used the entire bench and many players were obliged to play out of position. Fortunately, at this juncture, Barnhall also decided to bring on their bench which allowed Portora to stage something of a late revival. Shortly afterwards lock, Chris Balfour, finished off a series of attacking pods to go over for Portora's second try.

Despite being well beaten the last word and perhaps the best move of the match went to Portora. Two generous penalties from the referee allowed the visitors to work their way down for a line-out 15 metres from the Barnhall line. A perfect throw from hooker Tom Pendry was caught by Jack Kennedy, who, with Aly Jones, had been dominant in the lineout throughout the match. As he hit the ground his lifters, Andrew Dane and Andrew Humphrey drove him forward to start the type of quick, 8 man rolling maul that Ireland could well have used on the previous day. Balfour directed the maul over the line and dropped on the ball for the final score of the match. Something of a consolation try but a fitting end to the tour.

Thanks must go to Coolmines and Barnhall rugby clubs whose warmth of welcome and generosity of spirit were as exemplary as the condition of their excellent pitches. Congratulations to all 20 squad members, some of whom return a bit bruised and battered, but all having been great ambassadors for their school. A final thanks to Roy Crawford who captured all on video and stills. Suitably censored pictures and clips will be available in due course.


2014/15 Season

 


Fixtures

 

Date

Opposition

Venue

 

6 Sept

Omagh Tournament

A

confirmed

13 Sept

Foyle/Londonderry

H

confirmed

21 Sept

Regent

H

confirmed

27 Sept

Armagh

H

confirmed

       

1 Oct Wed

Omagh

A

confirmed

4 Oct

Banbridge

A

confirmed

       
       

18 Oct

Dungannon Royal

A

confirmed

25 Oct

Foyle/Londonderry

A

confirmed

       

2 Nov

     

8 Nov

Belfast Met

H

confirmed

15 Nov

Coleraine Inst

H

confirmed

22 Nov

FREE

   

30 Nov

Limavady Grammar

H

tbc

       

7 Dec

Sligo Grammar

H

 

17 Dec

Omagh

H

confirmed

28 Dec

Belfast High School

H

confirmed

       

 


Match Report 

 

PRS Under 14s v Banbridge - Saturday 4th October

 

 

After two losses and a draw this is a match Portora U14s should have won. The game was typified by the first five minutes of play. The home team forwards dominated both scrum and ruck and threatened the Banbridge line on three occasions without managing to get the scoring pass away. On the next attack the ball was dropped by Portora and Banbridge kicked the ball up field and continued to kick it until it crossed the Portora line where they dropped on it for the first score.

 

 

Portora were so much in control of the ball that this appeared to be a minor setback and they duly worked their way back down to the opposition 22 where Mark Crawford timed a good pass to Curtis Coalter who broke through for host’s first try. The lack of an organized defence compounded by poor tackling had been the clear weakness for Portora in last week’s game against Armagh and so it proved again. They were outflanked on the wings on two occasions and two tries resulted, one which Banbridge converted.

 

 

At the latter end of the first half Banbridge lost a player to injury but they had no substitute to take his place. Portora, under no obligation to drop a player, did the right thing and reduced to 14 men. Nice to see there is still something to the school’s motto and satisfying to see that there is still some justice as Portora, with some fine handling, scored the next try. The half time score was 12 -17.

 

 

Portora swapped some players during the break but no sooner was John Allan brought back at number 7, having just recovered from last week’s head injury, than he was carried off with cruciate ligament damage. This and the other positional changes seemed to disrupt the Portora team but can’t really excuse the poor tackling that let the substantial Banbridge tight head bull his way over for the next two tries. Even at Under 14 level the game these days punishes missed tackles, severely. At this stage it appeared that the home team’s morale was slipping but they are nothing if not resilient and they finished the last 5 minutes with some of the best rugby we have seen them play this year. Four determined phases of play saw the ball touched by nearly every member of the team. A final sortie by Jack Kennedy to the right hand side of the pitch followed by quick, slick passing saw them score at the left hand wing. Watching that passage of play you had to wonder what Portora had been doing for most of the second half. The final score –

 

Portora 19 - Banbridge 27. It’s a slowly improving picture for the Under 14s.

 


2013/14 Season

 


Fixtures

Winter Term

 

14/9 Foyle College (A)

21/9 Regent House (A)

28/9 RSA (A)

2/10 Omagh Academy (H)

5/10 Banbridge Academy (H)

9/10 Portadown College (1,2 & M) (A) 

19/10 RSD (H)

26/10 Foyle College (H)

2/11 Sullivan Upper (A)

Easter Term

 

1st XV - schools bowl qtr final vs Omagh academy (a) Saturday 8th February KO 1030

2nd XV - 2XV schools cup vs Sullivan upper school (H) Wednesday 12th February KO 1400

Medallion - schools bowl vs belfast high voluntary grammar school (a) Saturday 1st February KO 11am

 

*H/A denotes 1st & 2nd XV’s with the Junior squads venue being the opposite


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30.11.13


PRS U13 WASPS v Limavady
LOST 0-15

 

 

 

 

 

As the U13’s lined up against Limavady on Saturday there was little expectation among the spectators of a win, damage limitation looked like the order of the day. Even the referee had been confused by the considerable bulk of the Limavady players warming up on the U13 pitch and had to consult with both the U14 and U13 coaches to ensure that the correct teams were facing each other at kick-off. It was very satisfying therefore to find half-time approaching with Portora sitting as they had been for most of the half, on the Limavady line but frustrating that they had not been able to take advantage and open the scoring. Frustration gave way to a sense of injustice when Limavady broke down field to score an unconverted try in the last seconds of the half leaving the score at 0-5 at the break.

The disparity in size began to tell during the middle of the second half which showed in a lack of sharpness to Portora’s tackling and rucking. The additional yards carried and the increased amount of ball that Limavady gained eventually led to two further tries. Portora did have their chances to get back into the game but two clear try scoring opportunities were lost for the sake of a well timed pass. However, to their credit, Portora finished the game pressing the Limavady team back to their line but just lacked the strike power to convert the pressure into points.

Leaving out those two missed passes it is very hard to criticize Portora’s performance. The forwards, as usual, gave very little ground despite being down a first choice player or two, the tackling by the scrumhalf, out-half and centre’s was immense and the back three of Matthew Brown at full back and wings Harry Dane and Ben Donaldson gave an exemplary display. In the end however, sheer size won out over skill and grit
 by 15 points to nil.

Portora U14 ‘Hornets’ 22 - Limavady 15.

Saturday 30th November saw an intense battle on Castle Lane as the Portora Hornets played their penultimate match of the seasons before Christmas. Number 6 Adam Boles led the way in the opening few minutes of the game giving the visiting side a tough Fermanagh welcome pressuring the Limavady defence through some impressive rucking and recycling to score the first 5 point of the match. Shortly after a well worked try came from centre James Balfour who was able to use his speed and strength to outrun the opposition and touch down in the bottom corner of the pitch. At half time to the score saw Portora 10 points clear.

The start of the second half saw Limavady stage an impressive comeback with two successive converted tries scored by a pacy winger who Portora had successfully starved of the ball during the first half. The Score was now completely reversed Portora 10, Limavady 14. Something needed to be done!! From the re-start Adam Boles arrived on the scene once again, making an impressive tackle of the dominant Limavady centre which seemed to be the incentive that the Hornets needed to step up their game. An impressive period of hard work from the Portora forwards sucked in the Limavady defence creating a clear overlap and allowing winger Jack Deane the opportunity to score his first try of the season and save the game. It was now a question of closing the door for the final minutes, as the Portora defence lined up ready and tackled well to prevent Limavady creating any chances. Finally in the final few minutes centre James Balfour once again saw his chance and dived over the line for his 2nd try of the game which was then successfully converted by Reece Smyton to seal victory.


Portora Medallion vs Limavady GS
Won 26-0


Saturday saw the Portora Medallion team continuing their winning run. Apprehensive due to injury, Portora took to the field with a half back starting at tight-head, thankfully in uncontested scrums. Josh Greenaway also found himself jumping in the line out, a skill gained ten minutes prior. This is just one example of the versatility on display. Harlow seed usually back three was another example, playing his old position of flanker and also throwing the line outs, which he did well. With five of the usual pack missing, more than ever we needed the backs to do damage when space was given.

The game started with Portora on the back foot, Limavady recouped the ball from kick off, showing the intent needed for thief round one shield match next week. Portora though, hung tight and when a turn over was gained by the forwards, the ball was shifted wide where full back Dylan Crawford found himself in space, he cut in well and was only denied by a high tackle 20m from the line. The resulting penalty taking quickly by captain Andrew Crawford saw a try eventually finished in the left corner.

Great play from backs saw mistakes penalised regularly making ground on most occasions. Portora crossed for a second not before long, the captain and birthday boy adding to his impressive tally this season. Despite a spirited effort from Limavady they were just short on gaining points before the half, despite good pressure play, which the hosts dealt with well.

If the first half was that of the backs, the second was that of the forwards, second rows Jack Rutledge and Stephen Allen in devastating form, linking well to each other to gain huge ground. Stephen Allen could have been mistaken for Kieran Read for the amount of times he found himself as a forward, somehow on the wing. Aaron Elliot and wing come prop Kyle Hicks also taking some good lines. This style of played sucked in the visitors defence, giving many an overlap, to which Portora was not always clinical having not injected immediate pace on the ball.  
In the end the linked up play proved too much and despite almost coming into serious contention at the start of the second half, Portora managed another two, with Matthew Dane finally missing a kick it ended 26-0. A good result, but they must be careful in future as lessons are to be learned, discipline to be worked on, but for now they can enjoy the victory as they build towards the shield.


 


5.10.13


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portora 1XV 19-28 Banbridge 1XV.

Portora were playing at Castle Lane on Saturday morning against Banbridge. The 1XV were eager to lock down their home pitch early in the season. This fixture was important to the older boys as their last meeting ended with Banbridge lifting the School's Trophy in a final played last February. While the crowd was a few hundred smaller this time, Portora wanted revenge. Their efforts were in vain as the first points came from the Banbridge wing. Another try came from a mistake by the Portora backline throwing an interception to Banbridge's number 13 who ran half the pitch to easily score. At halftime the home side were losing 21-0.

After the break James Burns, on his debut, had a strong performance from the second row and good scrummaging allowed John Clarke to crash over for his 3rd try in two matches for the big number 8. From the restart though Banbridge capitalised on a poor kick which lead to them scoring their 4th try. However this wasn't enough to crush the home team. They came back with a few good attacks resulting in two more tries scored by Marcus Crawford and Stephen Roberts. All in all, Portora dominated the second half and with a stronger start would have won the game. Although disappointed, captain Matthew Coalter felt they can definitely take positives from the change in attitude from the boys and can look forward to playing old rivals Omagh next. Final score Portora 1XV 19-28 Banbridge 1XV.


Portora 2XV 7-17 Banbridge 2XV

Portora were unlucky to lose to a strong Banbridge side on Saturday morning. Portora started on the back foot as Banbridge applied the pressure from the start. As the ball was moved into the Portora 22, they showed good resilience to hold off Banbridge for a long period of time. However, although Portora defended well, a short lapse in concentration showed a gap to a Banbridge player who was allowed to go over the line around the fringe of the ruck. The conversion was missed which gave Banbridge a 5-0 lead. However, Portora did not let this score get to them and quickly turned the tables and put the ball into the Banbridge half. A quick bit of thinking from the Portora backline allowed them to utilise the space on the blind-side at the back of a scrum. This then gave Robert Baloucoune the space he needed to skip through two tackles and run half the length of the pitch to go under the posts. Sam Greenaway converted to give Portora a 7-5 lead. From here on in the game was very evenly balanced. Portora suffered a few injuries and had to play part of the match with fourteen men. As both teams tired and the game entered the final few minutes, Banbridge found themselves in the Portora 22. Banbridge could count themselves lucky as a knock-on was not seen by the referee and Banbridge were able to drive over the line. Portora once again discovered this was not to be their day as stand out player Andrew Khew suffered an injury while in possession which allowed Banbridge to walk the ball over the line. Although the score line did not go Portora’s way, there were many positives to take from the game such as another superb defensive effort from Ethan Palmer and Lewis Miller and as always great improvements on the last game.


Portora Royal Medallions    8  v 41    Banbridge Academy Medallions

It was another disappointing defeat following the loss at Armagh last week, yet it was a valiant effort from the Portora side. The long bus journey to this away game left the Portorans on the back foot from the start against a physical Banbridge side, who quickly utilised the ball well and made some considerable ground.
However, several minutes into the game Portora woke up and began to hit the Banbridge defence hard and with much impact, as they delved deeper and deeper into the opposition's half. A number of powerful runs from the forwards now left Banbridge vulnerable, yet their defence stayed strong and no score was to be made by the Portorans.

 Shortly afterwards, a penalty for Banbridge allowed a quick tap and go for the scrum-half who cut through the oblivious Portora defence to score. Although it was left unconverted, the score remained 5-0 until Matthew Dane stepped up to the mark and elegantly placed a penalty over the bar. Banbridge retaliated with a penalty and hit back harder scoring a quick succession of tries to make it 19-3 at the break.

In the second half Portora gave away some soft penalties. These  led to more tries for the Banbridge team some of which were converted. However, as Portora forged their way into Banbridge's half a small brawl broke out which led to the sending off of one of the opposition's forwards. This scuffle created a spark in the Portora side which resulted in a fiery outburst, with some devastating runs being made by both forwards and backs.

Constant pressure on the Banbridge back line led to some mistakes being made by the opposition, and this pressure culminated in a score for Portora when Matthew Dane pounced on a loose ball to score. Although it remained unconverted, this try was enough to motivate the Medallions who yet again played some splendid rugby.
Alas, the game was not going to end in victory for the Portora Medallions when Banbridge scored several more tries. As the final whistle blew, the score was 41-8 to the home team. However, the score line did not reflect the game itself.  


U13 WASPS: Banbridge 20 - 17 Portora

An undefeated Portora side took to the pitch against a well organised Banbridge opposition. The first twelve minutes of the game passed without score, although Banbridge had an early try ruled out because of a foot in touch. With Portora’s defence being slow to come up as a line, some strong Banbridge runners proved hard to stop and a converted try saw the hosts move ahead. Indiscipline in the ruck gave Banbridge a penalty which was kicked to further extend their lead. Portora responded with great attacking play working across the pitch with off-loads keeping the ball alive and winger Harry Dane on hand to finish with a try. Mark Crawford kicked well all game and duly converted to narrow the gap. Shortly before half time, mazy runner Alex Parke pushed Portora into the lead for the first time at 10-12.

Portora realised any mistakes would be quickly punished by a Banbridge side that spread the ball with ease and started the second half with a try from scrum half Matthew Brown after five minutes. Good work from the forwards provided the position for Matthew to puncture the Banbridge defence with a dart from close range. Ben Donaldson, Alex Parke and Tom Pendry stood out as having made key tackles during the game. Having extended the lead to seven points, however, mistakes started to creep in to the Portora defence. A string of missed tackles let Banbridge through to score a further two tries and re-take the lead. Portora put pressure on the Banbridge line but were unable to finish off some promising moves.

Despite their first loss, the team showed good organisation and progress from training and can look forward to building on four good performances against Dungannon in a fortnight.

 


28.09.13


 

 

 

 

1st XV

 

Royal School Armagh 33 – Portora Royal School 8

 

Travelling to Royal School Armagh is one of the most difficult fixtures the boy’s face during their season.  Armagh are always well drilled and very competitive.  There has been an improvement in Portoras play with every game and this game was no different although the score line would not suggest that.

On a perfect day for rugby, Portora started well and probably had more of the play in the first fifteen minutes.  Then from a defensive scrum on their own 22 Portora pushed Armagh backwards giving the home side poor ball, but a defensive mix up let the Armagh winger run in unopposed for the opening try which they converted.

From the restart Portora had their tails up and with strong ball carrying from John Clarke and Jamie McKane, Portoracreated pressure resulting in a penalty which Adam Lendrumduly converted.

Portora continued this dominance with the forwards all carrying well and being marshalled by Connor Keys effectively.  In this period of play Portora should have scored at least twice but poor decision making or small dips of concentration meant they didn’t turn pressure into points.  

The next score came from Armagh with Portora not clearing their lines, gifting Armagh another try.  Half time Armagh 14 – Portora 3.

The start of the second half continued in much the same vain as the first period with Portora exerting pressure but not troubling the score board.  Armagh then gained a line out inPortora’s 22 and scored from the ensuing maul.  

Portora’s pack upped their game and took play from the 10 metre line to Armagh’s goal line with good off loading and dynamic ball carrying.  Harry Patterson benefited from this great play with a well taken try.  

The game then ebbed and flowed with both sides having their share of possession, however, Armagh managed to score twice more using their possession well while Portora could not convert theirs.  

Portora played some excellent rugby but unfortunately could not turn this into points.  The pack were dominant in the scrums with Captain Jamie Gibson taking five against the head.  They also dominated the breakdown, only the lineout gave some concern but this can be corrected easily.  The backs defence was much improved  and their passing skills showing progress from training.  

This is a young team who have bags of potential but they must learn to improve their decision making and not to gift points through naivety.


2ND XV
RSA 48 – PRS 0

Portora fell foul to a very tough opponent in Armagh. However, the score does not tell the whole tale. Portora dominated large sections of the match with territory and possession, however they could not break the well drilled Armagh defence. Portora started the game brightly with a number of high balls. Although Portora were able to put Armagh under pressure from these kicks, a very skilful backline always seemed to be able to wriggle their way out of trouble. The first Armagh score came from a half break followed by a number of well worked offloads which allowed Armagh to cross the whitewash after 10 minutes. After this phase of play Armagh seemed to find their feet and played with extreme confidence. A move from the back of the Armagh scrum led to some space opening for an Armagh winger who was quick to exploit the space with a clever chip which resulted in a try. The winger followed up with the exact same trick moments later with the same result. A number of Portora injuries just before the half left them stunned which resulted in another Armagh score. Portora seemed to lose their rhythm after a few key players had to leave the field of play. Armagh identified and capitalised on this problem. Even tough Portora were able to hold out the Armagh pressure for a short time, soon enough the Armagh forwards were able to drive a further two tries over the Portora line. Towards the end of the game Portora were mentally & physically drained. After a long day of chasing down balls and holding off Armagh pressure they were finally finished off with a final Armagh try.   



Medallions
RSA 31 - PRS 7


A depleted Portora team became even more depleted as within the open encounters of play, wing James Wilson was taken off with a broken clavicle having just made some excellent ground down the flanks. The nature of the depletion however gave opportunity for many fringe players to make a mark. This they did, as Portora matched a physical Armagh up front, their backs seeing little of the ball. Even a make shift scrum was dominant throughout the first half.
In an end to end first half both teams had shown that they could attack as well as they could defend with Armagh having a slight dominance in territory. Dylan Crawford had feet good enough to make even ‘Strictly’ fans jealous, showing some excellent transferable skills from his footballing experience. Armagh however did cross the line before half time making it 7-0 at the break.
In the second half the Portora backs showed that they could match their counterparts up front with Conor Blackwell-Smyth making ground along with Morgan Bruce. Despite these efforts though Armagh made some good ground, sucking players in and creating space outside for their own backs to use, crossing the line, just right of the posts. The Armagh backs were starting to shine and the no.13 showed his Ulster credentials crossing the line almost untouched. Portora did fight back however, crossing the line them-selves following some good hard running. A sense of a turnaround was in the air. It was not to be however, as Portora got sloppy in defence allowing the no.13 to eventually finish off a second half hat-trick. Final score 31-7.


U14 Hornets
PRS 12-15 Armagh


Portora had an amazing start to the U14 Rugby match with Reece Barrett scoring the first try of the match within the first 10 minutes of play. Despite the fact Portora were playing exceptionally well Armagh made a comeback by scoring two tries in the dying minutes of the first half.
During the second half Armagh continued with a good offence and scored another try but Portora did not give up, they pushed hard and were rewarded with a try, scored by Ewan Haire. Alas this was not enough to save the day.


U13 Wasps
PRS 10 – RSA 10


The Wasps kept their impressive unbeaten record this Saturday by drawing with Royal School Armagh. Armagh’s well drilled and skilful squad opened the scoring early in the first half but failed to convert their try. Portora’s forwards, who are starting to become the strength of this side, put together a series of drives which would be the envy of any senior team and scored an unconverted try before half time.
Portora’s front five continued to pick and go in the second half while the back row and mid-field thwarted Armagh’s strong running backs. A succession of excellent off-loads then led to Portora going over in the corner to make the score 10 – 5 with only 15 minutes left in a very tight game. Unfortunately Portora were the authors of their own misfortune when they gave away three back to back penalties to allow Armagh back into the game with a short range try. Despite the obvious class of the opposition Portora may well feel disappointed by the final 10 – 10 score line but they will have learned a lot, and they still remain unbeaten.

 

Yours in sport,

Adrian Walker

Master in Charge of Rugby


MEDALLIONS

SAT 14.09.13


On Saturday Portora Medallions got off to a fantastic start to their season when they faced Foyle in their opening match with a 29-15 win.  There were a few dropped balls as the ground was very wet but it wasn’t long until Portora’s open side flanker, Aaron Thompson, got the first points up on the score board with a good, strong run down the right wing to touch down in the bottom corner.  Then around the 20th minute Aaron Elliot the Portora hooker injured his back and had to be substituted.  Just before the end of the first half Portora number 8, Andrew Crawford came off the back of a five metre scrum and touched down in the bottom right corner and with another missed conversion that made it 10-0 at the break.

    After half time it wasn’t long before Foyle were playing some clever kicks and then eventually the Foyle number 12 sprinted down the wing to touch down in the corner.  But Portora responded well with some big tackles which led to Portora’s Steven Allan running it under the posts and with a successful conversion by Jordan Toal that made it 17-5.  But Foyle got themselves together and after a few errors by Portora, Foyle’s number 10 and 9 both got themselves an unconverted try each which made it 17-15.  But within a few minutes Jack Rutledge from Portora scored in the corner with some good sidesteps and then Morgan Bruce scored a good try near the posts, successfully converted by Mathew Dane.

Portora are well set up to go in against Regent House next weekend at home.

By Daniel McIntyre

 


WASPS

SAT 14.09.13

Saturday saw a good start to the season for the Under  13’s under Dr Wilson and Mr. Bellinger. New players combined well with the more experienced to overwhelm Foyle college 37 points to 10 on a sunny morning at Portora playing fields.

In the first half the forwards supplied regular possession for the backs and three tries resulted to Foyle’s one, with Matthew McConkey controlling play from the base of the scrum. His replacement at halftime, Matthew Brown, continued the good work as the forwards began to dominate both set pieces and open play. Three tries for Samuel Frazier marked an excellent game for him but it was the energetic, yet controlled play by all 20 members of the squad that was the most telling feature of this dominant performance by the Under 13s. Foyle never gave up but the gap between the teams grew as the game went on with Portora running in four tries in the second half.

John Allan

Captain

 


HORNETS

SAT 14.09.13

Portora  28  – Foyle College  7

Following the first training sessions of the season and a slight re-shuffle of position from last season’s team PRS ‘Hornets’ produced a solid performance. The boys took to the pitch in hope of a victory and were not to be disappointed. 

From the whistle, the Portora team made their presence felt with Reece Barrett the early try scorer. Despite a solid Portora defence and some outstanding tackling by Jonathan Irvine Portora lost possession from a ruck from which an opportunist winger from Foyle took advantage. His impressive 50 metre Sprint down the line levelled the score at 7 - 7.  As half time loomed the PRS 15 continued to display the form and ability to spread the ball wide which lead to man of the match James Balfour scoring his first try just before the whistle. It was converted by Reece Smyton his first of three during the game. Half time Portora 14 – Foyle 7.

Portora continued to dominate throughout the second half with James Balfour scoring his second try of the game and Reece Smyton converting a very difficult kick from a distance out it went in off the crossbar! Portora extended their lead 21-7 with a well worked try from Jack Moore and a conversion from Reece Smyton Portora put them ahead 28-7. A solid win and a great start to the season. 

James Johnston

 


PRS 2ND XV

SAT 14.09.13

The Portora 2nd XV walked out onto the away pitch with high expectation and that showed with the way they played despite a slow start. Rucks were well contested which put pressure on the opposition containing  them in their own half. With piercing counter-attacks from Kieran Morgan and big runs coming from the centre PRS were looking well. Foyle though gaining possession and shipped the ball out wide and took their advantage of a 2 on 1 to run from the half way to convert underneath the posts. With the conversion PRS were 7-0 down. After half time Foyle got their hands back on the ball and again converted their period of dominance with a  try and conversion. 14-0 down!! PRS heads didn't drop with heads held high the team and got on with the job. With newly applied pressure PRS knew a try was coming and so when a penalty was awarded close to their try line with a quick tap and go by Steven Armstrong a converted try brought scores to 14-7. PRS tried to push FOR another try but solid Foyle defence prevailed.

Final score Foyle 14 - Portora 7 

 


 

Portora 1st XV

SAT 14.09.13

Errors cost promising Portora side

 vs Foyle College

 


Portora Rugby Club 1XV kicked off their season on Saturday when they traveled to Londonderry in an attempt to make up for their early cup exit last season at the same venue. A completely changed side, captained by Matthew Coalter, started strong with much of the possession and territory. After a good kick from the Foyle outhalf left Portora deep in their own 22, they were unable to clear and the Derry side capitalised scoring an early try. Portora bounced back, annihilating Foyle's scrum at every opportunity, winning at least half of scrums against the head and nearly all from their own feed. This was led by Jamie Gibson at hooker with Marcus Crawford and Jamie McKane making up the rest of the solid front row, however this strong effort was cancelled out by the Enniskillen mens' lack of discipline and handling errors. New Portora boy, Jack Breen, broke the line on numerous occasions but was unable to convert this into points. It seemed the Portora pressure would finally pay off after halftime but a long period of possession inside Foyle's 22 ended with yet another knock on from a Portora hand. In the final 5 minutes Foyle made another break and managed to squeeze through a gap in the back line, running half the pitch to be brought down by a potentially try saving tackle just short of the line by winger Robert Baloucoune. However the Portora boys couldn't reorganise their defense in time and Foyle went over a few phases later. Despite their strong efforts in the closing minutes, there just wasn't enough time remaining and the score finished 12-0 to the home side. The Portora side can take plenty of positives from the game, including the scrum, tackling, and commitment from newer players including Josh Kennedy and Ryan Ballintine. They hope to bounce back when they travel to Newtownards to face Regent House next Saturday.   


Yours in sport,

Adrian Walker

Master in Charge of Rugby

 


 

2012/13 Season

 


 

After two seasons where high expectations were not met by Portora many thought this season would follow in the same manner as the previous.  With many of last season’s 1st XV leaving the Portora team is made up of few experienced players and a majority of 5th years taking a massive leap from Medallion rugby last year to 1st XV.

We began the season with a home friendly fixture against Belfast High School. Both teams friending weakened sides in an effort to test players in different positions. This was a highly contested match in which we came through with a 17-10 victory. This victory was followed by a high scoring win over Londonderry and Foyle College and a last gasp converted try to defeat Regent House 19-17. We conceded our first defeat of the season against Royal School Armagh in which a quite concession of early try’s where ran in to put the game out of reach early. This caused a domino effect of defeats which deflated the confidence of the players.

Our greatest achievement so far this season was away to Dungannon Royal School, one of our close rivals. The game started the way the last few games had finished with Dungannon leading 18-0 at half time. The game finished 28-25 to Portora after one of our best performances of the season in the second half to come back with four converted try’s to shock Dungannon and their supporters. This victory was followed by a win over one of Connaught’s best, Sligo Grammar.

Our pack is led by Vice-Captain Oliver Gamble. The former centre/wing was last year converted into a back row specialist who thrives in open play. Our front row and front row replacements are all 5th years. John Clarke begun the season strongly but was forced out of action with a shoulder injury. Marcus Crawford has shown great character and has lead by example in his first year of senior rugby with great carries, showing up senior players at times. Our second row consists of Gary Thornton. Last year he was rowing for Ireland but this year he has shown he is a quite learner and is a vital part of our forwards. Oliver is accompanied by Charles McClean and Eric Elliot. Charles is very versatile, able to play anywhere in the pack. Eric has stepped up massively in his final year of school rugby and could easily play as a back with great hands, feet and creativity.

The backs have had a hard year in which injures where a continuous problem, in our first match of the season winger Adam Shaw received a hit to the head which called his season to an end. Captain James Stevenson has lead mostly through his foot by kicking 60+points so far this season. Fly half Robert Connor and inside centre Nathan Richmond have leaded the backs through a tough season. Both are our top try scorers, Robert with 13 and Nathan with 10. Robert who can create something out of nothing and Nathan doing a lot of the hard yards and dirty work. Alastair Crawford who is also in his first year of senior rugby started the season very well, scoring important tries. He missed part of the season but is back in the squad and playing well. 

We are back to full strength with all injuries shaken off and look forward to our schools cup campaign.

 

Yours in sport,

Adrian Walker

Rugby Development Officer




 


Portora 1st XV vs Foyle and Londonderry College

 

 

The Portora 1st XV play Foyle and Londonderry College away from home on the 12th January for the Danske Bank Schools' Cup second round.

It would be great for our boys to have some traveling support, so we have organised a proposed supporters' bus for the match. It will be leaving Portora front terrace at 09:15 on 12th January to arrive for an 11am kick off. The cost will be £5 per head which is to be paid on booking at Reception before Friday noon.

 

 


U13 Rugby 2012/13 Season

 

 

 

 

24th November 2012
Portora (A) v Limavady - 12-31
Click here to download the match report (.pdf)

September - Mid November:


Click here to download a .zip file containing the match reports for a selection of the results below (.doc and .ppt files)

Foyle                0-32      Portora
Regent             0-66      Portora
Armagh             10-0      Portora
Portora              24-40    Banbridge
Portora              58-0      Omagh
Portora              19-12    Dungannon
Portora              41-0      Foyle
Sullivan             36-8      Portora
Coleraine           12-38    Portora
 
Points for:         286
Points against:  110
 
P9        W6       L3

 


Portora Rugby Club Contact Details

Mr Damien Dempster
Head of P.E
ddempster018@portora.enniskillen.ni.sch.uk

Portora Royal School

Derrygonnelly Road
Enniskillen BT74 7HA
Co Fermanagh

028 66 322 658


 


 

 
Portora Rugby Club - 125th Anniversary 1884-2009

 
Rugby was first played at Portora in September 1884. From the beginning they played in the school colours of black and yellow and were nicknamed 'the Wasps'. By the turn of the century Portora were regularly playing between fifteen and twenty annual fixtures.
 
The Ulster Schools Cup is first referred to in 1899 when Portora were in the final, as they were also in 1902. In 1905 Portora won the Schools Cup for the first time. The team was coached by the then Headmaster Mr McDonnell a former international and sports enthusiast. The whole school travelled by train to Belfast to watch the match at Ormeau, and Portora duly beat their Belfast rivals MethodistCollege by three goals and one try to nil.
 
'The trophy has never before resided within our walls but, now that we have secured it, our hope is that it may often return.'
 
Portora returned to Enniskillen on what had turned into a wet and dismal night, but despite this the station platform was thronged with people. A brake was found and the townsmen of Enniskillen yoked themselves to it and hauled the team right up to the school door.
 
The following year the team was noted for opening the season 'in a manner that can only be described as New Zealandish' and again returned to Enniskillen with the Ulster Schools Cup.

* Extracts taken from Portora – the School on the Hill, a quatercentenary history 1608-2008