City Of Armagh Rugby Club Notes: I XV 16 v Banbridge I XV 20 ~ III XV 64 v Monaghan II XV 6 & II XV 6 v Banbridge II XV 13

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Banbridge 20 Armagh16

Saturday saw Armagh travelled to Rifle Park to play Banbridge in the Ulster Bank League. They will have to make the same journey next week to play Banbridge in the quarter final of the Senior Cup. Coincidentally the club’s seconds were playing on the adjoining pitch in the second round of the Junior Cup!
Banbridge were still smarting from Armagh’s 17-16 defeat in the Ulster League when they last visited Rifle Park. From their body language prior to the kick-off it was obvious they were keen to put their stamp on this fixture! It was Armagh who kicked off with a stiff breeze at their backs and with steady drizzle falling.
Armagh continually used the talented back line to launch a series of attacks and left-winger, Irwin, almost scored after ten minutes but was forced into touch ten metres short of the line. Shortly after this Banbridge were penalised for failing to roll away after a tackle in front of their posts. Armagh’s James McBriar landed the kick to put the score to 0-3.

From the restart, Banbridge backs attacked down their right wing. Armagh were penalised for failing to release the ball after a tackle. Banbridge opted for a scrum but after a number of re-settings, the referee awarded a penalty try nudging the home side 3-7 ahead. After twenty minutes play Banbridge were again penalised for going ‘over the top’ in a ruck which McBriar obliged with the kick to put the score to 7-6. Armagh continued to use their backs to good effect and their right-winger, Andrew Willis, made a spirited break but the referee judged that his touchdown was not cleanly executed and disallowed what appeared to be a fine try!

From the drop out a Banbridge centre broke away and Willis made a try saving tackle but failed to release the attacking player. For this infringement, the referee sent the winger to the sin-bin. Just before half time Armagh’s scrum half scored an opportune try under the posts and the conversion saw Armagh lead 7-13 at the break.
Immediately after the re start followed a session of ‘handbags’ inside the home ‘22’. Armagh were penalised but the referee reversed the decision due to the Banbridge retaliation!
By this stage in the game, it was obvious that the heavy home pack was beginning to dominate but the visiting backs were superior. Indeed, the home captain, McKinstry, scored a breakaway try, which was converted bringing the score to 14-13. To add to Armagh’s troubles they were penalised for ‘breaking the bind’ in a scrum. The resultant kick put the score to 17-13. With just seven minutes left on the clock the Banbridge backs were caught offside and again McBriar put another three points on the board. Just before the final whistle, an Armagh forward was found to have joined a ruck from the side. The resultant kick brought the final score to 20-16.
Armagh had to be content to go home with a losing bonus point. This is probably a fair result because, on reflection, the Banbridge side were dominant in the forward department but Armagh backs were seen to be the more dangerous. If Armagh can manage to win their home games and continue to secure bonus points they can only be optimistic of the season ahead.

III XV 64 v Monaghan II XV 6

Armagh 3rd XV continued their winning ways with a dominant performance
against a strong Monaghan 2nd XV at the Palace Grounds. With Chris Wallace
and John Falloon returning from injuries Armagh were able to field a strong
side and being the only team playing at the Palace Grounds a good crowd of
supporters turned out despite the blustery weather.
Armagh started slowly and a slippery ball led to several handling errors.
But on 10 mins great work by the pack led to a break by Jude Parr who fed
Stanley Hamilton who kicked ahead and grounded the ball by the posts and
then converted for 7 points. Monaghan replied with a penalty and although
they attacked strongly the Armagh defence held firm. Armagh’s second try
came from Robert Straghan after good work by the centre partnership of
Falloon and Matthew Allen. Hamilton converted for 14-3. Monaghan attacked
strongly and although they converted a penalty these were the last points
they scored as Armagh ran up another 50 points unanswered. Other first half
tries came from Falloon and a quick tap and go from Hamilton for his second,
his convertion leaving Armagh leading 26-6 at half time.
From the restart Paul Cully fed Straghan who ran from his own 10 metre line
leaving Monanaghan defenders in his wake and scored under the post. Again
Hamilton converted. Good scrumaging by the dominant Armagh pack fed the back
line who moved the ball wide to Andy George who ran a looping run to score
under the posts. Hamilton again converted. Falloon and Rory Hanna had to
leave the field injured while Monaghan lost one player. This did not stop
Armagh who ran in another four tries from Jude Parr, Chris Wallace, Jamie
Monaghan and Philip Hooks who converted his own with Hamilton converting the
other three leaving the final score 64-6 to Armagh.
Armagh will hope to continue their winning start to the season with a tough
away game next Saturday against Ballymoney.

II XV 6 v Banbridge II XV 13

Armagh 2nd xv played their Banbridge counterparts at Rifle park on Saturday in the second round of the Junior cup. Despite winning comfortably in the 2nd xv league a few weeks earlier, Armagh struggled to impose themselves during the first half when they had the advantage of a stiff breeze. The Armagh scrum had Banbridge in reverse with several balls taken against the head, however the only reward was a penalty bt Mathew Steenson and an audacious drop goal by Simon Cuttle to give Armagh a halftime lead of 6 – 0. On the restart, Banbridge came more into the game and started to pressurise the Armagh defence. On 60 minutes, some slack defence allowed Banbridge in for a score at the posts and with the simple conversion, put them into the lead 7-6. Armagh had difficulty establishing any territorial advantage and tried to play from too deep in their own half. The game petered out with Banbridge accepting 2 penalty opportunities to bring the score to 13 – 6. Armagh were very sluggish throughout out this game, a complete reverse from the earlier league game when they played some exciting rugby. The loss of 2 players to yellow cards late in the game didn’t help the team’s cause – a game best forgotten and a disappointing exit in the junior cup.

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