An understength Armagh Seconds side played Ballynahinch Seconds in a second XV league game on Saturday at a sunny Palace Grounds on the back of a disappointing Towns Cup semi-final defeat the previous week.
The game kicked off with both teams playing with a high tempo with Hinch quick off the mark through their big mobile forwards.
With James Morton, McNeice and Finn in the back row being kept busy defensively, Hinch’s progress was stalled until a crossfield kick found an unmarked winger who strolled in to touch down at the corner.
The conversion was missed however Hinch led 5-0 after 15 minutes.
On the resumption, Armagh took on the visitors up front with Kennedy, Oliver and Andrew Morton carrying strongly. TC and Boyd orchestrated the backline and John Faloon’s strong ball carrying made life difficult for the Hinch defence.
On 32 minutes after a penalty was kicked to the corner and following a lineout take, the home forwards set about attacking the Hinch try line with Finn, Lutton and Finn prominent.
Several plays later, Captain Steven Morton made the decisive drive to crash over mid way out and with Boyd’s conversion, Armagh had taken the lead 7-5. With their tails up, Armagh were playing all the rugby with the backline looking sharp with Pau Gimeno, Kyle Faloon, Holden and Crozier all making the Hinch defence work hard.
Inside the 22 again, play then changed from left to right with the ball coming to the lively McNeice who had found himself in the centre. He spotted a gap in the defence and raced over untouched for a great team try which Boyd converted, 14-5 to Armagh at half time.
On the restart with Armagh kicking off, more drama was to follow when Pau Gimeno grabbed a high ball out of reach from the Hinch forwards and hit the ground running to find himself deep inside the Hinch 22. Quick recycling by the forwards and clever play from Boyd moved the ball wide left for Crozier to saunter over in the corner. A magnificent touch line conversion from Boyd stretched the Armagh lead to 21-5 on 43 minutes.
Shortly after, Hinch had a player yellow carded and with the home side taking their foot off the pedal, Hinch proceeded to score two unconverted tries to narrow the score to 21-15. A converted penalty to Hinch had Boyd responding with one for Armagh and then Hinch made a try out of nothing when some weak Armagh defending let them in, 24-23 to Armagh with five minutes remaining.
With the leadership of the three Morton brothers coming through, play was once again taken to the Hinch half. With the visitors desperate to obtain possession, they conceded a kickable penalty which ironically was Boyd’s easiest kick of the day, 27-23. On the restart the forwards took play into Hinch territory with the final whistle sounding after a knock on by Hinch.
This was a very pleasing display by the Seconds with Kennedy, Lutton, Oliver and debutant James Rolston contributing in full to a great team performance.
Next up is Ballymena Seconds at home on Tuesday night with a 7.45pm kick off.