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Two individual tries by Simon and Freddie Cuttle in the first half of this keenly contested Derby game between Armagh and Portadown gave Armagh two important league points last Friday night.
Anyone coming to watch this game saw the passion which exists when these near neighbours meet. On a dark and dismal October night Armagh took the field with a couple of changes, Brian Bassett
moved to what many consider his best position in the front row , allowing Will Hill to make his debut for Armagh after a long injury. James Johnston was not available so Andrew Smith went in as hooker
Sam Shepherd came back into the centre to bolster both attack and defence. After 5 minutes Simon Cuttle stroked over a simple penalty and after some enterprising play by the three quarters Simon Cuttle scampered in for
a fine individual try after selling a tremendous dummy which even Centra would be proud off. He himself duly converted to give Armagh a healthy lead. Portadown to their credit never gave up and they converted a penalty after
30 minutes to reduce the gap. Armagh had all the territorial advantage and it was no surprise when after 35 minutes Richard Shilliday charged down a kick and released the ball to Davy Martin who showed amazing pace to
score in the corner. Just before half -time Armagh extended their lead when some individual brilliance saw Freddie Cuttle dash thirty metres down the right wing to score in the corner. The Cuttle brothers not known to lack confidence
were quite rightly proud of their first half performance as I am sure was their dad standing on the sidelines.
Armagh expected Portadown to come back at them and so they did in a rather subdued second half. Maybe it was the half-time team talk from coach Charley Singery that the team could not understand that baffled the players, but Armagh
sat back on their lead and did not really threaten the Portadown line for the second 40 minutes. Portadown threw everything at them, even the odd punch, but the young Armagh side had learned their lesson from the previous weeks and
maintained their lead through some great defensive work. They contained Portadown to just one penalty and ran out worthy leaders. Mention should be made of referee Billy O’Gorman from Newry who although giving some strange
decisions at times was complimented by both teams at keeping the lid on a derby game which in the past could have got out of control. THis was the curtain raiser for the next day but some who were there would say that perhaps this was a better
game of rugby as there may have been too much at stake in the first’s match.

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