Armagh v Highfield Match Report 06-01-2018

8 JAN | BY CITY OF ARMAGH RUGBY CLUB

Highfield RFC 17 City of Armagh RFC 10

City of Armagh RFC and 40 travelling supporters made the long journey to Cork at the weekend to play Highfield in the AIL and came home reasonably satisfied with a losing bonus point. When the sides played each other in Armagh earlier in the season, many Armagh supporters claimed that Highfield were the best side they had played all season. Highfield were in second position in the league pushing Malone all the way while Armagh were in 4th position just ahead of Queens and Cashel.

In excellent playing conditions Highfield won an important toss and decided to play into a stiffish breeze up a slight slope. For the first 15 minutes Armagh just could not get hold of the ball and having given away five penalties on the trot it was no surprise that Highfield got on the score sheet first on 14 minutes following a series of scrums and drives close to the Armagh line. The try when it came was converted by centre Paddy O’Toole. Armagh then got into the game and were helped slightly by a yellow card to Jack Duffy for a late tackle on 22 minutes. Armagh then used their numerical advantage with a well taken try by flanker Stuart Hooks after 25 minutes which Cormac Fox converted to bring the scores level. Try as they may Armagh could not unlock the resilient Highfield defence who slowed the ball down at every ruck. When Armagh did get into a good field position, a crooked lineout let Highfield off the hook. On the stoke of halftime Fox had a chance to nudge Armagh into the lead with a forty-metre penalty but the kick struck the post and the score at halftime remained 7-7 in an evenly balanced encounter.

The second half commenced and City of Armagh continued to concede penalties at the breakdown and with out-half Brian O’Hea’s tactical kicking, the Armagh side could not get a foothold in Highfield territory. Highfield’s bulky set of forwards played typical Munster rugby and despite resolute defence it was inevitable that another score would come. On 58 minutes, Tim Ryan an American international prop, drove over close to the posts for O’Hea to convert to give Highfield the lead, 14-7. Soon after, Armagh’s Robert Whitten was harshly penalised and O’Hea stretched the Highfield lead to 10 points with a well struck penalty.

Armagh still had chances in the final quarter and prop Daryl Morton made an excellent break but just failed to get a scoring pass away to the supporting Chris Colvin. In the last 10 minutes Armagh did dominate and both wingers, Robbie Faloon and Ryan Purvis threatened to score when the visitors were able to get the ball out wide. Referee Helen O’Reilly finally lost patience with Highfield’s tactics and sent another man to the bin. Armagh to their credit never gave up and two minutes from the end, Cormac Fox struck a neat penalty to give Armagh a losing bonus point. Armagh tried right up to the end but couldn’t find a further score and Highfield were able to seal victory with a final scoreline 17-10.

Following the match, the Armagh coaching team were reasonably satisfied with a losing bonus point in Cork, but the team will have to raise their game again this week when they meet Division 1A outfit Cork Constitution in the Bateman Cup at the Palace Grounds. It is still a learning curve for this young Armagh side.