Kevin ‘Doyler’ Doyle on the charge against Armagh RFC
Old Crescent RFC made the long trip from Limerick to challenge City of Armagh’s unbeaten run in Division 2B of the All Ireland League last Saturday. In perfect sunny conditions with a chill in the air, Armagh kicked off playing into a slight breeze. Crescent won the kick off and immediately brought play to the Armagh 22 and in the second minute missed a penalty from 25 metres. A more difficult attempt by Barry Neville was successful a few minutes later from 50 metres to put Old Crescent ahead 0-3. On 14 minutes, a late tackle resulted in an Armagh penalty to level the score at 3-3.
The second quarter saw the two teams lose possession frequently and the game was evenly balanced. On thirty minutes the Armagh number eight received a yellow card and Barry Neville kicked the resultant penalty for Crescent to edge ahead 3-6.
As the halftime break approached, Armagh attacked from the halfway line and the recovered a kick ahead to send their winger over for a try. The try was unconverted and the referee blew for halftime with Armagh leading 8-6 after a first half in which Old Crescent had played some good attacking rugby and were unfortunate not to finish the half in front.
Old Crescent kicked off the second half in determined fashion and put the home team under immediate pressure. However, promising attacks broke down when we were penalised at the breakdown on several occasions and Armagh were able to clear their line.
Fifteen minutes into the second half we received a blow when our number eight was sent to the bin. Armagh took a quick lineout and made good ground on the right wing before we halted them short of our try line. However, Armagh were awarded a penalty which they kicked to put home side ahead 11-6.
Five minutes later we suffered a second yellow card leaving us with just 13 players on the field for five minutes of intense play. Armagh tried to use their numerical advantage and mauled close to our line but we relieved the pressure with a hard won turnover. With 15 minutes remaining Armagh were trying to make the game secure but Old Crescent continued to press to get back on terms.
Armagh won a five metre scrum in front of the Old Crescent posts which gave the home team a good attacking position and from the scrum their number 8 got over our line for a try and the conversion made the score 18-6.
Old Crescent continued to attack and a successful penalty by Barry Neville reduced the arrears to 18-9. With time running out, Crescent pressed for a further score in search of a losing bonus point. However, as full time approached, we were penalised on our 10 metre line and Armagh kicked the penalty to bring the score to 21-9 and the final whistle went leaving Armagh as the only undefeated team in the UBL with six wins from six starts.
The Crescent team performance against Armagh was a big improvement on our loss to Bective in Rosbrien the previous weekend, and we were unlucky not to come away with at least a losing bonus point.
The Ulster Bank League continues next weekend and we are at home to City of Derry RFC, with kick off in Rosbrien at 2.30pm next Saturday. Our Under 20’s take on UCC in a Donal Walsh Trophy clash at the Mardyke in Cork next Saturday at a time to be confirmed.
Finally, we congratulate Joe Schmidt and the Irish team on their magnificent victory over New Zealand in Chicago last Saturday, a win that lifts Irish rugby to a new level.