Armagh Firsts continue unbeaten run with victory against Ballymena

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Armagh Firsts continue unbeaten run with victory against Ballymena thumbnail

City of Armagh 38 - Ballymena 27
ARMAGH travelled to Eaton Park on Saturday to play Ballymena RFC in their second game in the SONI Premiership League. Although having beaten Ballynahinch in their first fixture, the side still travelled as underdogs.
Despite torrential showers before kickoff, the rain held off for the duration of the game and the playing conditions were ideal for open rugby.
Armagh kicked-off into a stiffish breeze and within the first minute John Faloon made a break down the left wing to bring play inside the home five metre line. A set scrum followed and only for a handling error in front of the home posts, Armagh would almost certainly have scored with their first attack.
Despite this early pressure, it was the home side who opened the scoring when Armagh were penalised for failing to release in the tackle. The Ballymena outhalf, Brett Herron, landed a relatively simple kick from in front of the posts. Armagh immediately replied with the first try of the game when winger, Robbie Faloon broke through the centre from deep inside the Armagh half and scored at the posts. Outhalf, Cormac Fox converted to bring the score to 3-7. Following good forward play from the visiting pack, the ball reached centre, John Faloon who forced his way over for a try at the posts. Fox's conversion again was on target making the score 3-14.
Shortly after the re-start, Armagh continued to put the home side under pressure and Fox sent a beautifully placed cross-field kick to the right wing where Kyle Faloon collected and touched down for what was to be the third Faloon try of the day! Again the conversion was successful, despite the freshening breeze, to bring the score to 3-21. After dominating the first 20 minutes of play, City of Armagh went on to earn their try bonus point when Timmy McNiece scored in the right corner.
Ballymena managed to put the visitors under pressure for a short spell in the Armagh 22, only to see the visiting forwards win a turnover and break out of defence. Just before the break, the home team got on the scoreboard with a penalty kick by Herron to make the halftime score 3-31 to the visitors.
Shortly into the second half, the visitors received a set-back with injuries forcing fullback Tim McNeice and prop Daryl Morton to leave the field. A yellow card to Philip Fletcher then swung momentum to the home team.
Ballymena took advantage of the situation and hooker Adam McBurney broke the Armagh defensive line and scored the home side's opening try. Armagh responded almost immediately when hooker, Andrew Smyth, broke free and scored at the posts. Cormac Fox was in terrific kicking form and landed the conversion to make the score 8-38.
As the game went into the final quarter, Armagh appeared to lose concentration and Ballymena finished strongly to score three tries from Mattie Agnew, Dean Reynolds & Joe Thompson. Two of these were converted by Brett Herron to bring the final score to 27-38 and a losing bonus point was secured for the home team.
Following the game Armagh's coaching consultant, Willie Faloon awarded man-of-the-match to hooker, Andrew Smyth. Armagh's bonus point win puts them four points clear in the SONI Premiership with ten points from two games with Malone, Banbridge and Ballymena all on six points in joint second spot.
This Saturday, City of Armagh launch their 2017-18 Ulster Bank All-Ireland League campaign when they entertain Leinster side, Greystones. Last season Greystones piped Armagh to the 2B League title and a tough encounter is expected at the Palace Grounds.


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