Armagh leave it late against dogged Dungannon

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Armagh leave it late against dogged Dungannon thumbnailRS Armagh out-half Glen Faloon dives over to score a crucial second try for the visitors.

TWO tries in the closing stages of Royal School Armagh's third round Ulster Schools' Cup tie against local rivals Royal School Dungannon, helped set up an away tie in the fourth round against Enniskillen Royal Grammar School on Saturday, February 4.


The home side looked like they were about to pull off a Schools' Cup upset until late tries from Glen Faloon and Nicholas Jennings helped Armagh squeeze into the next round.

Backs' coach Chris Parker admitted that in cup rugby it is all about the result, not the performance.

“Cup rugby is simply all about the result, rather than the performance at times, but we will sit down on Monday and look at the game a bit further.

“We are extremely happy to have got through and I think it probably took us a while to get to grips with the game, but in the second half our fitness and conditioning really told and we started to make some clean line breaks and caused them a lot more trouble.

“Credit to Dungannon as they have improved massively since the start of the season and their defence was extremely well organised and they were hard to break down.

“I think we always had the belief that if we stuck in there and stayed within a score then we would have enough firepower to get there in the end!"

Armagh got off to a rip roaring start and despite the ferocity of the home defensive line, Armagh turned the ball over after a spell of Dungannon possession and Thompson spotted a gap down the left hand side.

He popped the ball into the path of the advancing Reaney and his clever offload found Wilson, who darted in to score in the corner with just two minutes on the clock. Faloon failed to add the extras and Armagh had an early lead of 5-0.

With ten minutes on the clock the home side had their first chance to get on the scoresheet as Armagh were penalised at the ruck.

Scrum-half Adam Evans screwed his penalty attempt wide and Armagh remained 5-0 in front.

The visitors were being continually penalised at the ruck by the referee and his patience was wearing thin.

Graham Crawford was the next player to be penalised and the referee reached to his pocket and Crawford was sent for ten minutes in the sin-bin.

The home knew that this was an opportunity to gain a foothold in the tie and after a sustained period of possession in the '22' they looked like they were about to score.

However, a massive hit by Matthew Reaney helped to alleviate some pressure and Armagh cleared their lines.

Some adventurous play under the shadow of their own posts saw Boyd link up with Faloon, who fired a lovely pass to Reaney.

Reaney popped the ball out wide to the rampaging Nicholas Jennings and he powered his way up to the half-way line, as Armagh looked to get back into the Dungannon half.

However, the visitors were soon penalised once again at the ruck and a long kick in to the corner saw the home side retain the ball.

After a series of well organised pick and drives, Dungannon burst over out on left hand side, Evans slotted between the posts to give them a narrow 7-5 lead.

The visitors responded well to going behind and a good move down the left hand side saw captain Dunne dive over from close range, but he was held up and a scrum was awarded to the away side.

Armagh had two further chances to get back in front, but Faloon saw both his penalty attempts drift wide of the posts and the home side held a narrow 7-5 lead at the break.

After the interval Armagh were incredibly fortunate not to concede within minutes of the restart.

Reaney spilled a pass in the midfield and Dungannon grubbered the ball up the pitch and thankfully for Armagh the ball bounced out of the grasp of a diving Dungannon player and Armagh were able to clear their lines from a drop-out from their '22'.

Mistakes were starting to creep into the game from both sides, which came as no surprise as the first half was played with tremendous intensity.

With 15 minutes left Armagh's superior fitness was beginning to pay off and a strong run from number eight Ryan O'Neill saw Nicholas Jennings tackled inside the '22' and the Armagh support were adamant that the young winger had been dumped head first.

The visitors continued to push forward and after a kick into the corner from a penalty by Reaney. Armagh trundled their way towards the try-line, but despite huge appeals from the visitors, the referee deemed the ball to have been held up.

From the next phase of play, Armagh went through several phases, going from left to right and after good work from Ryan O'Neill, Glen Faloon spotted a gap in the home defence and dived over the try-line to score in the shadow of the posts.

He dusted himself down to fire over the resulting conversion and Armagh were now 12-7 in front.

It was still a 'one score' game with just five minutes to play and Armagh knew that the next score would be crucial and their pressure paid off once again with just seconds left on the clock.

Scrum-half Benji Boyd darted down the blindside and popped a sublime pass out to Nicholas Jennings on the wing.

The powerful winger drove towards the try-line and despite the attempts of several Dungannon defenders, he managed to power his way over the try-line to score a priceless try for the visitors.

Faloon pushed his conversion attempt wide of the posts and the referee blew his whistle to signal the end of this pulsating derby tie.

Armagh progress to a fourth round tie at Enniskillen Royal Grammar School and coaches Chris Parker and Willie Faloon will be all too well aware that their side need to cut out some of the basic errors that allowed Dungannon back into the game.

That fourth round tie takes place on Saturday, February 4 at the Eisenhower Playing Fields, with kick off yet to be confirmed.


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