City Of Armagh RFC Notes: I XV 19 v Belfast Harlequins RFC I XV 12 ~ III XV 14 v Dungannon RFC IV XV 17 & II XV Bow Out Of The Towns Cup In An Absolute thriller With Omagh RFC I XV!!!!! + Pictures Of II XV

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Armagh Rugby 19 Belfast Harlequins 12

The conditions could not have been better for open rugby as the game kicked off at The Palace Grounds on Friday evening. After strangely mild weather the playing surface at Armagh had firmed up following the horrendous conditions last Saturday when Armagh soundly defeated Ards in the AIL League.
It was always going to be a tricky fixture with Harlequins sitting third in the Ulster League. How were they going to condescend to play the ‘new kids on the block?’ Would they risk their ‘big guns’ or would they just coast the fixture with a second string side and risk the night?
On the night they certainly seemed to have put a fairly sound side out against Armagh. The scoring opened with Tinus van Wyk touching down under advantage after 22 minutes play. After another period of sustained Armagh pressure Josh Morton broke a tackle and fed the ball back to Full back Johnny Steenson who touched down under the posts. Armagh’s out half James McBriar converted again to bring the score to 14-0.
Just three minute later Josh Morton almost scored again when just missed touching down in the corner. The Armagh Forwards, however, continued to steal line-outs and were seen to dominate all aspects of the game.
The second half started off as the first ended with Richard Reaney puting the deftest of kicks right into the Harlequin’s corner. The Harlequin’s side never gave up and were seen to come back when the y scored a try in the left corner to put the score to 14-5. Another break from James Morton put the play right back on to the Harlequin’s line and a strong try from Jacques van Rooyen put the possibility of a bonus point into a possibility. Unfortunately the conversion again went wide but Armagh’s tails were up for that elusive fourth try! But the 19-5 scoreline was obviously to Harlequins as their No. 8 Alistair Heatley touched down a hard worked try which was converted to put the score to 19-12.
The game was in the balance with the home side beginning to show signs of fatigue but resolutely fending off the Belfast senior opposition. The final score 19-12 will always be echoed from the Belfast side as being irrelevant as they had fielded a so-called junior side. Does any dog in the street believe that Belfast Harlequins came to Armagh NOT WANTING to win that game? Why is it reported way down on their web site that Armagh ‘claimed the victory over a much changed Quins side?’ What is that all about?

Dungannon 17- 14 Armagh

Dungannon brought a big physical side to the Palace grounds. Dungannon rarely used there backs, in a match that they will feel they stole, even though they were leading at half time 12-0. Armagh refocused there attention in the second half, which run Dungannon ragged. Armaghs own mistakes kept Dungannon on the front foot, when a close call from the ref awarded them a score, with Andy Mortons body under the ball. This spurred Armagh on the open up the game and throw the kitchen sink at Dungannon. Holes began to appear everywhere as Armagh spread the ball around the pitch, this broke Dungannons strangle hold on the slow 10 man rugby, which was working well for them. Armagh scroed 10 minutes into the second half with Stuart McMahon picking another get line, with the resulting ruck, Stan Hamilton threw a dummy and ran in beside the posts, converted by Andy Knipe. Armagh playing all the rugby, it seemed that every player touched the ball, as the impressive Rab Straghan broke free in the midfield to round the Dungannon backs to score under the posts, converted again by Andy Knipe. The last 15 minutes Armagh had chances to finish out the game, as Dungannon were in total disaray, but they managed to steal the ball just when Armagh were building up for the killer blow. Armagh started too late in the game, but alot of promise was shown from a young team playing good rugby.

Seconds go out of Towns cup
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Armagh seconds hosted Omagh 1st xv in the quarter final of the towns cup on Saturday. The home team started by taking the game to Omagh with forwards and backs probing the Omagh defence at every opportunity. The scrums were solid against an Omagh eight noted for their scrummaging power and the line outs were working well with accurate darts from Pete Lamb and good agility from David Martin, Willy Hill and Steven Morton. It wasn’t until 30 minutes had passed when the first scoring opportunity arrived with a kickable penalty being awarded to Omagh. This had followed a poor decision to run the ball out from the home 22. With the points on board Omagh led 3-0 against the run of play. The game restarted with Armagh showing renewed vigour and on 34 minutes Stephen Morton drove over mid way out after good ball carrying by Hill, Purdy and Carlisle. With the conversion by Matthew Steenson, Armagh led 7-3. This score boosted the team’s confidence and once again Armagh returned to the Omagh 22 from the restart. With centres Steenson and John Faloon taking the ball at pace into contact, ball retention was good and from a quick ruck, Simon Cuttle twisted and turned his way over close to the posts for a try converted by Steenson. There was still time for a penalty opportunity for Armagh on the stroke of half time which just dropped short. Half time 14-3 to Armagh.
When the second half kicked off, Omagh regained possession from the dropout and took the game to Armagh with their big mobile forwards picking and driving into the home defence. An overlap was created out wide enabling their winger to touch down in the corner for an unconverted try 14-8 to Armagh on 43 minutes. With the home side struggling for possession Omagh repeated the same move for another unconverted try on 50 minutes to close the gap to 14-13. With the injured David Martin replaced by Brian Bassett and Ethan Allen on for Robbie Faloon, Armagh reapplied themselves to bring a spell of pressure in the Omagh half. A kickable penalty was awarded to the home team 35 metres out which went wide on 60 minutes. Five minutes later Omagh were awarded a similar penalty which was converted to give them the lead for the first time 16-14 to Omagh. Having fallen behind, Armagh attacked with Ethan Allen taking a crash ball in the middle of the park. The recycled ball went left reaching Jonny Clarke who cut between two defenders and then moving the ball to Timmy McNeice. Timmy was deemed by the Omagh touch judge to be tackled out at the corner flag although he seemed to have already released the ball to John Faloon who touched down. With the try disallowed and the resulting lineout, Omagh eventually cleared their line. They were eventually awarded another kickable penalty two minutes from time which was converted to leave the final score 19-14 to Omagh. Although playing against a good 1st fifteen this was a disappointing result as the home side should have consolidated a fine first half performance by maintaining their defensive discipline in the second half. Several running repairs had to be made to players throughout the game and this combined with positional changes due to injuries disrupted both scrums and line outs. Next up is Belfast Harlequinns 2s in the second xv league this weekend.

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