City Of Armagh RFC Notes: III XV 15 v Ballymena RFC V XV 19 – Report

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Saturday saw Armagh 3rd’s meet Ballymena 5th’s in the final of the Forster Cup at Ravenhill.
Cup finals always hold a special magic but this occasion held a certain extra sparkle for Saturday’s game. Firstly to see the Ravenhill stadium improvements underway with the concrete grandstands rising up behind the hoardings was indeed impressive. Secondly to be able to watch rugby without shivering is a pleasure long forgotten. Finally, to see the young Armagh side take the field following the drawn-out Carrickfergus debacle was very encouraging! The vocal supporters from both Ballymena and Armagh certainly did not let the occasion slip away unnoticed!
Armagh faced a stiff, blustery breeze at the kick-off and both sides appeared to revel in the otherwise fine conditions. The game was played at a tremendous pace with neither side able to penetrate very sound defences despite forty minutes of open rugby!
The Armagh points all came from the boot of Andrew Knipe except for a strange moment when Scrum-half, Stan Hamilton took a quick penalty some ten metres from the Ballymena line and attempted a cross-field kick to feed the ball to his right winger, Adam Brennan. The ball, however, passed between the uprights and the referee awarded Armagh three points for a drop goal. But the ball was fielded by Adam Brennan and touched down for a try. This score would have earned five points and if converted a further two points for a conversion. This one will definitely go down for a pub quiz in years to come!
The second half started off with Armagh playing all the rugby but a combination of Ballymena scoring a runaway try against the run of play and the capacity to bring on a very strong bench meant that Armagh ran out of time wit the score at 19-15.
All in all it was a very entertaining game and Armagh lost out to a wiser if not more talented side with a very strong set of reserves!

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