REPORT Nutty Krust Tournament Armagh U18’s v Dromore U18’s 12th April 2016. By Barney McGonigle
The tenth of this season’s games in the Nutty Krust U18 Tournament took place under the floodlights at a crisp, calm and dry Chamber’s Park when Armagh U18’s and Dromore U18’s played on Tuesday evening. This was the first of the semi-final games and the result ensures the Dromore U18 team, who recorded a 10-7 victory having built up a 5-0 lead by the break, will take their place in the final of the competition which they won last year. A sizeable crowd had gathered to watch another entertaining Nutty Krust game which featured quite a few talented players on both teams. Among the group watching was Jonny Gillespie, the Ulster Rugby Talent ID Manager.
The Dromore team started the game in a positive manner with players such as Josh Brame, Aaron Atkinson, Ryan Arthurs, Marcus Heath and Michael Watson all combining to ask early questions of the Armagh defence. They kept possession for long periods of time in the opening quarter of the game but could find no way through a resolute Armagh defence in which William Holden, Cormac Fox, Michael Orr and Evan Crummie played prominent roles. Both teams then turned down penalty kick opportunities and twenty five minutes into the game Dromore looked to have created an overlap situation which might have yielded a positive outcome. However, Marcus Heath cut an inside line and switched the direction of play. Ben Heath was on hand to take advantage of this decision and he cut through a startled Armagh defence to touch down for an unconverted try which gave the Dromore team a 5-0 lead. This lead might have been extended close to the break but a promising Dromore attack ended when the Armagh defence forced them into conceding a penalty and forced a clearance kick away to safety.
The early stages of the second half saw the Armagh team take control of both territory and possession. William Holden and Cormac Fox combined to put Evin Crummie into a good position but the Dromore defence forced the Armagh attack to knock the ball on and the opportunity was lost. Shortly after this the Armagh team did get just rewards for their early second half endeavours. Michael Orr ran a great line to take a delayed pass from Cormac Fox and this was enough to hold the Dromore defence up. Michael needed no further invitation to touch down for a try, which he converted, to put the Armagh team into a 7-5 lead. This had the impact of seeing the Dromore team re-organise and they got back to controlling the set piece aspects of the game. The Armagh team was without the services of their Ireland U18 Three Nations Prop, Paul Mullen. The Dromore pack, with Simon Henshaw impressing in the front row, was more comfortable at scrum time and the quality possession emerging from the set piece was well used by the attack minded Dromore back division. The Armagh team had to defend with vigour but a clearance kick was well fielded by Michael Watson, who linked with Josh Brame to send Aaron Atkinson off on a clever run which finished with an unconverted try to give the Dromore team a 10-7 lead midway through the second half. The Armagh team knew they had to respond positively and they launched a series of attacks. Ryan Kilpatrick, Kamile Kalka, James Wright and Michael Orr were all involved in creative attacking plays but, on a number of occasions, these plays came to an end though a combination of good Dromore defence and simple forward passes. This ensured there were no further scores which left the Dromore U18 team finishing as 10-7 winners of this entertaining game.
As usual with the Nutty Krust Tournament the players all received a post-match meal which was sponsored by Jim Hewitt Meats, prepared by the staff in “Scrummies” kitchen and organised by the ever present Sid Rowe. All players, as well as their coaches, received a Nutty Krust loaf on departure.
The President of the Ulster Branch, IRFU, Bobby Stewart, having already chaired the monthly meeting of the Ulster Branch Committee earlier that evening, took time out of his busy schedule to attend the match. Bobby, a member of the organising committee for the Nutty Krust Tournament, presented the Nutty Krust “Man of the Match” Award to the impressive Dromore scrumhalf, Josh Brame, at the post-match reception.
The second of the semi-final games in the 2016 Nutty Krust Tournament will feature Omagh U18’s v Rainey U18’s at 7-45 pm on Wednesday 13th April. All supporters will be made to feel very welcome.