On a near-perfect day for rugby Dalriada Medallion hosted Belfast High in the semi final of the Medallion Plate with a large vocal crowd eager for a home win.
They were not to be disappointed with an outstanding display from all players against a team that put over 30 points on them earlier in the year.
It was the boys from Belfast who started the brightest pinning Dalriada back into their own 22.
But stout defence kept Belfast out and after twelve minutes the scores were still locked at 0-0.
A clever move from the Dalriada backs resulted in a full-bloodied tackle on full back Sparks who unfortunately was forced to leave the game, and a quick reshuffle saw Lockhart coming as a replacement.
It was during the changeover and down this channel that Belfast struck - a neat chip and catch by the Belfast 10 saw him go in unopposed to open the scoring.
This was followed up by the conversion, 0-7. Dalriada kept their heads and rather than be forced back, started to make in-roads into the Belfast half and it was of no surprise when a sweeping backs move found winger Hunter who raced in from 40 metres to keep Dalriada in the game. The try was converted by Strang.
Shortly after this with Belfast attacking they attempted to move the ball wide but Hunter was quickly up and gratefully accepted the interception to again run in from 40 metres. A conversion by Strang made it 14-7 to Dalriada.
Then back came Belfast and their larger pack drove Dalriada back and after a period of pick and drives the Belfast No 8 picked up and drove over to give his fly-half a simple conversion to bring the scores all level yet again, with the referee bringing the half to an end at 14-14.
The second half got under way and again it was Belfast who came out quickest and they struck first to take the lead. The conversion was also added (14-21). It looked like that Belfast would go on and finish the game off but the Dalriada pack suddenly burst into life and the front five took the game by the scruff of the neck forcing Belfast onto the back foot.
With the back row everywhere and causing gaps in the Belfast line it was no surprise when influential no 8 Malcolmson drove over from five yards to bring the score to 19-21.
With the crowd sensing a Dalriada victory they lifted the players with encouragement, Strang kicking to the corners and a sudden break from centre Finnerty saw him race away and under the posts, this was converted by Strang. 26-21 to Dalriada.
Changes in the front row saw Dalriada start to close the game out and just when this was looking to be the conclusion a double blow hit Dalriada. Centre Finnerty was forced off with an injury and prop Graham was shown a yellow card for a high tackle. This seemed to give Belfast the will to mount one final assault on the Dalriada line but again Dalriada’s awesome defence stopped anything that Belfast had to throw at them. As the referee brought the game to an end wild celebrations began on the touchline between players and supporters as the realisation of a final hit them. This will be the fourth time in recent years that the Medallion in Dalriada have contested a final. Dalriada 26- 21 Belfast HS.
Team: Kane, (McCarron) Christie Aaron, Graham, Torrens, Montgomery, Knipe, Christie Matthew, Malcolmson, Johnston, Strang, Jamieson, Finnerty (Magee) Henderson, Hunter, Sparks (Lockhart)
Meanwhile, in the junior results, the U/12s had an excellent win over BRA (31-5) with some excellent performances from Ross Fallowes, Stuart Moore and Luke Cantley. The u/14’s and u/13’s both lost away to BRA17-7 and 26-12.