Armagh ease in to quarter-finals

Thursday, 9 February 2017

A RUTHLESS first half display from Royal School Armagh in Enniskillen on Saturday morning saw them secure a home tie against Methodist College in the last eight of the Ulster Schools' Cup.

Enniskillen Rgs ...5
Rs Armagh ...24

Armagh easily saw off the challenge of an out-of-sorts Enniskillen Royal Grammar School to set up a home quarter-final tie and assistant coach Chris Parker said they were delighted with their performance.

“I thought we really came out of the traps well and we kept the ball a lot better than we did in the last round against Dungannon.

“Once we got the ball retention right then we were able to string a few phases together and I thought we were very clinical.

“We only had five opportunities in the first half and we put away four of them and yes we are very happy with how it went."

Armagh failed to add to their tally in the second half, but the visitors were able to empty the bench and Parker said he was pleased with their efforts.

“We knew they would come out firing in the second half and that we had to try and match it.

“The wind was very strong and we struggled to get out at times playing into the wind, but our defence was excellent.

“The home draw is ideal and when you get to this stage of the competition you are just glad to be there, but we are delighted to be there and we are all looking forward to the game on February 18."

The visitors got off to a rip-roaring start and the home side failed to even get their hands on the ball as Armagh opened the scoring with just seconds on the clock.

Chris Jennings popped the ball into the path of his brother Nicholas, who made good progress down the left.

Armagh pummelled the home try-line and after a few phases of play Matthew Kilic burrowed over to give them a dream start. Faloon failed to add the extras and Armagh were 5-0 ahead with less than a minute gone.

Faloon was pinning the home side back at every opportunity and the visitors' pack was winning the battle up front, as they consistently made in-roads in to the home defensive line.

The Armagh out-half made a good dart towards the Enniskillen line, but was held up just short and from the next phases, Boyd fired the ball out to Ryan O'Neill who popped the ball to Nicholas Jennings, who scored in the corner for Armagh's second try.

Faloon failed to add the conversion, but it wasn't long until the visitors were back in the Enniskillen '22'.

Zac Thompson kicked a fine penalty in to the corner and Armagh successful secured some good line-out ball and after a number of drives at the Enniskillen line, Ryan O'Neill threw a dummy and darted in underneath the posts to allow Faloon to add the extra two points and Armagh were now 17-0 ahead.

Armagh weren't finished for the half just yet and with the final phase of the first half, the Armagh pack drove at the Enniskillen line from right to left.

Boyd provided another fine pass into the path of Faloon and he was held up just short, but from the next phase, Thompson spotted a gap out wide and threw a fine dummy and darted over from close range. Faloon saw his conversion fall just short and Armagh went in at the interval 24-0 ahead.

Enniskillen came out all guns blazing in the second half, but the Armagh defence stood firm and despite spending long periods inside the Armagh '22', the home side simply couldn't find a way to breach the resolute Armagh defensive line.

In the closing stages of the game Enniskillen pounded the Armagh line and slowly but surely their pressure paid off as their winger Ewan Haire scored in the corner after some good work from his pack.

Smyton missed the conversion and that was one of the final phases of play in what was a very one-sided last sixteen tie in the Schools' Cup.

Armagh know that they will need to replicate their first half performance for the entire game against Belfast giants Methodist College in the quarter-finals.


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