Schools' Cup final: RBAI beat Methody 12-8 for third successive triumph
RBAI clinched a third Schools' Cup triumph in a row and their 32nd outright title by beating Methodist College 12-8 at Kingspan Stadium.
The traditional St Patrick's Day final was a closely contested affair held in difficult wet and windy conditions.
All the tries came in the first half, with Rhys O'Donnell and David McCann touching down for RBAI and James Hume kicking a conversion to make it 12-0.
Chris Larmour crossed for Methody, with Paul Kerr adding a second-half penalty.
Outside centre Hume, who scored all 13 points in Inst's success 12 months ago, skewed an early penalty effort wide of the posts.
O'Donnell darted over and stretched to score on the line in the 15th minute, Hume adding the extras with a well executed kick from a difficult angle near the touchline.
Seven minutes later, second row McCann rumbled over beside the posts after a driving maul, Hume scuffing his conversion attempt on this occasion.
The signs looked ominous for Methody at this point but Larmour completed a superb move along the back-line by diving over for a try in the corner to reduce his side's deficit to seven points.
The second half saw both sides reduced to 14 men in rapid succession for high tackles, Kerr first seeing yellow and then Hume being sent to the 'sin bin' for seven minutes for an infringement on Michael Lowry.
Larmour almost grabbed his second try of the game, but was tackled into touch by the corner flag before he could ground the ball.
RBAI captain and playmaker Lowry was then taken off injured, and while Methody pushed for a potential winning score, they could only muster Kerr's three-pointer to eat into their opponents' lead.
"The boys stuck at it well, they showed real effort and grit in the last 20 minutes, and the boys off the bench put in a great shift too. It's a real privilege to lead such a great bunch of guys," said RBAI skipper Lowry after the match.
The meeting was the 15th encounter between the schools in the showpiece decider, Inst having now emerged victorious on 10 occasions.
RBAI last lifted the cup in three consecutive years in the 1940s, when they actually won the final six times in a row between 1943 and 1948.