Saturday afternoon saw City of Armagh entertain Malone at the Palace grounds in their fourth game in The Ulster Senior League. Having narrowly defeated Ballynahinch 16-15 on Wednesday evening the team were still feeling somewhat battle weary. Every player knew that this was to be a monumental test of rigour as Malone’s reputation throughout Ulster Rugby for their robust but fair style of game.
Armagh kicked off in perfect conditions with a light breeze at their backs and immediately Malone launched an attack on the left wing. Armagh strayed off side and were penalized with James Morton also being shown a yellow card. The Malone captain, Glen Moore, touched down from the resultant line-out. The conversion went wide but the clinical style of this try meant that Armagh had a strong challenge ahead. However, Malone were penalized for entering a ruck improperly.
The Armagh full back, Johnny Steenson, was accurate to inch Armagh ahead with 3-5 on the board. Again Malone were caught for a penalty for failing to release the tackled player and again Johnny Steenson landed the kick to put the score to 6-5. This was short lived, however, when the Malone full-back, Taylor Achenson scythed through the Armagh defence and scored a beautiful try. The conversion attempt went wide to leave the score at 6-10 at half time.
Shortly after the break Malone scored again when Lee Barlow came off their bench to touch down to bring the score to 6-15 The out half, Josh Pentland was accurate with the kick to put the score up to 6-17.
The strength of the Malone pack began to show as they began to dominate the loos play and their front row showed some great ball carries. The Armagh team, however did not let their heads drop and despite another try in the left corner when the loose head prop touched down the defence worked well in general. This try was converted to close the Malone scoring at 6-24.
Richard Reaney then set off on one of his signature runs, coupled with a controlled kick ahead he touched down under the Malone posts. Tom add to the occasion he drop-kicked the conversion to put the final score at 13-24. During the second half Armagh suffered another yellow card when Stewart Lester appeared to intentionally knock-on and a spate of ‘hand-bags’ saw Colin Atkinson and a Malone centre sent to the bench.
All in all the Armagh side put up a great display but eventually the legs appeared to run out of steam after the fine mid week win at Ballynahinch. The strength of the heavier Malone pack made the difference on the day!