Report and pictures by Richard Owens
You can read a mismatch on paper and sometimes be surprised at the result and on seeing this Junior Cup clash between Ards, mid table in the Kukri Ulster Championship Division 2 and Armagh, league leaders in the SONI Ulster Rugby Premiership Division 2, I was hoping for some David v Goliath giant slaying.
The south west wind was blowing hard behind Ards towards the lough as they kicked off and both teams tested each other’s defensive lines with Ards having the better of the early contest.
Armagh knew they had to keep the ball as kicking out of their 22 into the wind would yield little advantage. After some solid work from the big Armagh pack the backs finally stretched their legs, and the Ards defence, with captain Faloon scoring their first try out wide, the conversion pushed wide in the strong breeze.
Ards regrouped winning a penalty midfield and kicked to the corner. Unfortunately for Ards, Armagh stole the line out and the pacy backs had the ball again with the same end result, try number 2 this time converted. 12-0 at 16 minutes.
Ards dug in and a break by their full back almost to the Armagh try line, before he was tackled illegally, resulted in another attacking line out 5 m out. This time no mistake and Ards big lock powered over to get the home side off the mark. The extras were not added and alas this was the last time Ards would see any movement on the scoreboard in their favour.
Armagh started to show their superior abilities in all areas and their play-maker out half mixed up the moves with cross field kicks to the wings and punts into the space behind the Ards line. Another converted try from Armagh left the half time score at 19- 5 to the visitors.
Armagh had the wind in the second half and they used it well, pinning Ards in their own half. Despite some quick tap and go from Ards spirited scrum half and hard direct running from the forwards, the siege on the Ards line lasted all the second half with Armagh hammering in 5 more tries.
A tough day for Ards, but based on this accomplished performance I’d expect to see Armagh do well in their Junior cup run. [Until they meet Larne – Ed].
Final score Ards 5 Armagh 52.
Match galley below.