ROYAL School Dungannon’s rugby first XV is hoping that home advantage will count when they host Ballyclare High School in the first knockout round of the competition tomorrow morning.
The last-16 tie will see Gareth McClintock’s side, who have already won three group games in the competition, beating Rainey 28-8 and Portadown College 43-5 both away, and Friends 21-0 at home, take on one of the competition’s seeded teams who have yet to enter the fray this term.
And the Royal School head coach believes home advantage and his side’s previous encounters in the competition should hold them in good stead on Saturday.
“It’s a big test but we’re looking forward to it,” he admitted. “When the draw came out, it was a home game for us so we’re looking forward to getting them down here.
“We’ve had three competitive matches ahead of this game and I suppose, for any of the seeded teams, the first half of any Schools Cup rugby match is a nervy one and yes, our boys will have those nerves as well, but our boys will see ourselves as having a couple of Schools Cup games under our belts and having that pressure going into it so hopefully our boys respond a wee bit better in that first half particularly.”
Ahead of Saturday’s eagerly awaited Cup clash, Dungannon enjoyed a competitive friendly against Banbridge Academy last week and trained over the weekend. And while McClintock is looking forward to locking horns with Ballyclare, who will be something of an unknown quantity, he feels a tight clash should ensue.
“We haven’t played them this season, so they won’t know much about us but we won’t know much about them either,” he acknowledged.
They beat Enniskillen last week by a similar score that we beat Enniskillen, so hopefully it’s going to be a close enough match.
“And we have three wins on the bounce in the Schools Cup this season. The boys are positive and they know they had a good tough game last week against Banbridge.”
Dungannon go into Saturday’s clash in good nick on the health front, with only back rower, Matthew Burrows likely to be missing due to a shoulder injury. Kick-off is at 11am.