Armagh1 v Dungannon Match Report 28-12-2019


City of Armagh RFC 19 Dungannon RFC 14
Saturday 28th December 2019
Report by Chris Parker

City of Armagh welcomed Dungannon to the Palace Grounds on Saturday for a SONI Division 2 fixture. The home side showed 12 changes to the starting XV that faced Banbridge in their last outing, with the extensive squad rotation giving players a deserved rest.

Armagh started brightly and enjoyed the majority of possession in the opening stages. This period of pressure was rewarded with points when, from a scrum, the ball found its way to winger, Mervyn Brown who went over the line for a try from 5m out against his former club. Harry Boyd was unsuccessful with the touchline conversion.

The restart saw Dungannon gain possession and they put the Armagh side through a number of phases before the ball was stripped by Ollie Millar and the turnover ball was moved to the right wing where David Agnew took play deep into the Gannon half. The ball was quickly recycled and a delightful cross field kick from Timmy McNiece was collected by Glen Faloon and without breaking stride, the winger ran in down the left hand touchline for a superb team score. Boyd was successful with the difficult conversion and Armagh led 12-0.

Dungannon came back into the game due to errors from the home side and following a yellow card to James Morton. The visitors got their reward when they made the numerical advantage pay, when after a number of missed tackles, Andrew Weir bundled his way over the line for Jordan McIlwaine to convert to make the scoreline, 12-7.

Dungannon enjoyed further possession and territory but struggled to break down the well organised Armagh defence. A loose ball was then gathered by Millar and he set off on a 60m break up the pitch, being dragged down 5m from the line. A penalty was then rewarded for the tackler not rolling away and Armagh had a foothold in the visitors 22. Following a number of set pieces, the referee awarded Armagh a penalty try following an offence at a scrum as the home pack moved towards the line. The halftime whistle went with City of Armagh ahead, 19-7 at the break.

The second half was a drab affair with both sides struggling to get going, due to errors in phase and set piece play. Dungannon scored early in the half through scrum half John Russell with McIlwaine again converting and it brought the score to 19-14. Dungannon applied a lot of pressure late on but a couple of steals at lineouts and some heroic defending saw the visitors repelled and the final whistle went with the final score 19-14 to City of Armagh.

Unfortunately whilst the conditions were well suited for running rugby, errors meant that the game never got into a flow but Armagh will be pleased with their resolute defence. They now need just one point from their rearranged match with Belfast Harlequins to win the SONI Section two title.

This Saturday, City of Armagh make the trip south to Dublin to face Lansdowne RFC in the Semi Final of the Bateman Cup. Having lost in the final last season, the squad will be hoping to go one better this season, but will be clear underdogs against the division 1A side.

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