ARMAGH Rugby 56 v ACADEMY Rugby 7 Report + Pictures

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With Armagh‘s recent below par performances they approached the game against Academy with a degree of caution. Although this is their first season in Qualifying one since their promotion Academy has, indeed, surprised everyone with their professional approach to the game. They have pulled off some really convincing wins recently and they came to The Palace grounds with a degree of resolution that stood out a mile!


The conditions were ideal for open rugby with a slight breeze at the backs of the home team. From the kick-off, the Academy side seemed intent on showing the Armagh side they meant business by launching their backs deep into Armagh’s 22. The first scrum revealed that the Academy pack were able to push the lighter Armagh forwards about in set pieces. Only five minutes into the game Armagh were penalised for straying off-side directly in front of their posts. Surprisingly the kick at posts went wide and Armagh sensed the let-off. From this point in the game, after eight minutes of play, the home side let loose their backs and they appeared to be able to penetrate the Academy defence almost at will.

The first try was scored by centre, Andy Holmes, and converted by Johnny Steenson. Tries followed from winger, Andy Willis, centre, Colin Atkinson, number 8, Stewart Lamb. Indeed, the bonus point was secured after only twenty-eight minutes play. To boot all four tries were converted by Steenson. Ironically the Armagh forwards appeared to change up a gear and were taking control of all phases of play!
On the stroke of thirty minutes play Armagh’s scrum half darted over for one of his signature tries under the Academy posts. Steenson converted to bring the score to 35-0. On the stroke of half-time Colin Atkinson scored a fine try in the left corner and again this was converted by Johnny Steenson to leave the visitors floundering with the score at 42-0!
The second half started with a surprise when a long pass from Armagh out half, Gowing, was intercepted by an Academy centre. This was converted to bring the score to 42-7. Five minutes into the half saw prop, Phillip Fletcher, come on for Brian McConnell. Five minutes later saw Peter Elliott substituted for Stewart Lamb. By this stage of the game Stewart’s strength and experience had certainly made an impact on the Academy strategy. With ten minutes to play full back, Johnny Steenson scored in the right corner and not to break a habit he also converted to put the score at 49-7. The last Armagh try came with ten minutes left to play when left winger, Irwin, this was converted to bring the score to 56-7. Armagh player/coach Andy Hughes was forced to leave the field with a hamstring injury with five minutes left to play. With only fourteen players on the pitch the home team were still able to retain control. Credit must go to the Academy side who kept plugging away and did their best to counteract the continuous attacks from the home side.
Having secured this convincing victory the Armagh team have managed to shake the monkey off their backs after it had haunted the side since before Christmas. With the renewed confidence they were able to turn the tables on the capable Academy pack and the devastating speed of the backs was able to rout the visiting defence almost at will. Steenson’s one hundred per cent kicking record should not go unnoticed either.

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