Route 1 was the order of the day for Armagh as they went about their game with clinical ruthlessness. From the off Armagh used their big ball carriers to run hard at the Dungannon defensive who made the mistake of standing tall and trying to tackle around the chest instead of going low and chop tackling before they reached the gain line.
With several Dungannon forwards being dragged backwards at every tackle, and the defensive line having to back track, Armagh simply recycled and went again with single runners making good ground up the centre of the pitch and over the whitewash.
In shock and awe of the strength and power of the Armagh forwards, Dungannon were slow to fix it and before long Armagh had notched up 2 tries one of which was converted to take the lead 12-0.
It didn’t help when shortly after the restart Brooklyn Fletcher (one of our strongest tacklers) had to go off due to injury but teams need to deal with setbacks and adjust their style of play accordingly. With Eoghan Donnelly on for Brooklyn, Dungannon restarted the game with a few big carries of their own as Sheehan Fay and Joey Clarke made separate breaks on the wings deep into the Armagh 22 which could have resulted in points on the board but Dungannon’s support play was at sixes and sevens as players stood off waiting for an offload that was never on the cards or not showing enough conviction in the ruck to prevent Armagh countering and stealing the ball. By half time Armagh had scored another try and added the extras taking the score to 19-0 as Dungannon heads began to drop and arguments broke out between our backs and forwards as each group began to blame each other.
With order restored Adam Kelly and Hayden Godfrey took to the field to freshen up the team and for the first 10 minutes both teams came close to scoring as Cormac changed tactics and tried to kick over for our backs to chase but Armagh realised what was happening and sat deeper and even countered our kicks with a few of their own.
At scrum time Armagh again had the edge with the heavier pack which added to Dungannon’s downfall and led to another try taking the score to 24-0 but then came Dungannon’s time to shine when off the top of a Dungannon line out, Cormac passed to Zac Holmes who weaved his way around several Armagh defenders to score in the corner and put points on the board 24-5.
with 10 minutes left on the clock Jamie, Luis and Mathew came on and immediately found themselves defending a 5m scrum.
Despite the new front row players, Armagh still had the edge and set about driving Dungannon back but this time Dungannon held strong forcing the Armagh number 8 to pick and go but despite the valiant effort by Eoghan and Michael to stop him short, Armagh went again and scored under the posts.
With the easy extras Armagh had upped their tally to 31-5 and in the dying minutes they finished off Dungannon with one final try in the corner ending the game 36-5
On reflection this group of players will learn from today’s experience as they come up against physically stronger players and will have to adapt and deal with it.