It was truly a game of two halves as Larne and Armagh went head to head in difficult conditions in the opening round of the Danske Bank Schools Cup.
Armagh come out on top with two second half tries but a gutsy Larne side can count themselves unlucky that a first half kick and chase from Jonny Hyndman was disallowed by the referee, a score, under the posts, which would likely have given the home side a ten point lead going into the break.
Up until then the match had been pretty even. Larne started strongly and were on the score board in the 5th minute when Hyndman slotted over their opening penalty. The big Armagh pack eventually got their game into gear but, in extremely difficult conditions, the ball was frequently dropped or turned over when they got into the red zone. Larne prospered from these mistakes and with the rain lashing down they appeared to have more composure with ball in hand.
It looked as though they had made a decisive score when Hyndman pounced on a dropped ball on the Armagh ten yard line. The youngster kicked clear and outstripped the defence, and referee, by some distance to slide over with the ball between the posts. Unfortunately, Hyndman was adjudged to have knocked on and the score remained 3 – 0 as the teams went into the break.
Armagh came back strongly in the second half and laid siege to the Larne line in the opening minutes. The pressure told and space was found out left for Armagh prop Jack Chapman to crash over for a try and a two point lead with barely two minutes gone after the restart.
Both teams, to their credit, slugged away on the heavy, almost swamp like, pitch and, in such a battle of attrition, it was the bigger Armagh pack that came out on top with Archie McAlpine finishing of another series of rucks close to the Larne line with about ten minutes left.
Larne tried to raise their game for a final flourish but with both sides cramping up the visitors were able to hold on reasonably comfortably to secure their progression into the second round of the the Schools Cup.
Final Score: Larne Grammar 3 Royal School Armagh 10.
The second round and Schools’ Trophy draw has set up two local derbies with Royal School Armagh playing Portora Royal School in the second round of the Schools Cup on Saturday, January 23.
Larne go into the Schools’ Trophy where they face local rivals Carrickfergus Grammar.
Unfortunately the “difficult conditions” limited our photography but here’s some pictures from the match.