The first of this season’s quarter-final games got underway in the Nutty Krust U18 Tournament under the floodlights at Chambers Park in nearly perfect conditions when the City of Armagh U18 played the Banbridge U18 team on Wednesday evening.
The Armagh team recorded a comfortable 50-0 victory with the scoreboard having read 24-0 in their favour at the break after a competitive first half. A sizeable crowd had gathered to watch an entertaining game which featured quite a few talented players on both teams. Among the group watching the game was Johnny Gillespie, a member of the Ulster Rugby Talent ID Department.
Early pressure from Armagh was thwarted when Reece Finnegan and then Kearon Branniff won penalties when they got on the ball at the breakdown.
After 10 minutes, a succession of strong carries from Armagh forwards Sam Glasgow, Adam Wilson and James Crummie and good hands in the backs saw centre Mark Hughes held up just short. He did well to offload to William Coleman to open the scoring. Dillon Fox converted for a 7-0 lead.
Shortly after this, Armagh launched an attack off a scrum on the Banbridge 10m by going wide immediately and allowing Hughes to get outside his man to release winger Laurence Markey who did well to get in at the corner for an unconverted try.
Bann responded well to going 12-0 down and won a series of penalties after a period of pressure. During this time, prop Benjamin Thompson came close to crossing. A not straight call at a line out eventually allowed Armagh to clear their lines without conceding.
For 15 minutes, defences were on top with Bann full-back Zak Davidson and out half James Buller looking threatening while the pace of Armagh wingers Markey and Rolston was a danger.
Only 5 minutes from half-time, Banbridge made some errors in their 22 culminating in a line out turnover from Armagh which second row Christopher Qua scored from. A 17-0 deficit seemed harsh on Banbridge going to the break but that became worse in the final play when James Crummie went over after several quick phases in the final play.
24-0 at half time did not truly reflect Bann’s efforts in the first period.
Armagh began the second half with real pace and determination but great defence from Zac Simpson, Caolan Mynes and Finnegan kept several attempts to break by Adam Hegarty at bay.
A clearance kick from Zak Davidson was spilled and he was unlucky in the footrush not to put Banbridge on the scoresheet.
After 15 minutes Bann’s attempts to run ball out of their own half eventually ended with a turnover which saw Armagh put together several phases before sub second row John Glasgow took a good line to score. Fox converted to put his side well clear.
Armagh maintained pace and good handling which produced two further converted scores for John Glasgow against a tiring defence.
The final play saw John link with brother Sam and together make nearly 50m before the tenacious scrum half Philip Jackson brought Sam down 5m short. Off the ruck Aogan Smyth got over for the final score.
Final score: City of Armagh 50 Banbridge 0
As usual with the Nutty Krust Tournament the players all received a post-match meal which was sponsored by Jim Hewitt Meats, prepared by the staff in “Scrummies” kitchen, and organised by the ever-present Sid Rowe. All players, as well as their coaches, received a Nutty Krust loaf on departure.
Gary Jackson, President of Portadown RFC, and a member of the Nutty Krust Committee, presented the Nutty Krust “Man of the Match Award” at the post match ceremony. The Man of the Match Award went to Sam Glasgow, the hardworking Armagh RFC U18 No 4.
The second of the quarter-final games in the 2020 Nutty Krust Tournament will see the Dungannon U18 team play the Omagh U18 team at 7.45pm on Wednesday 12th February under the Chambers Park floodlights. All supporters will be made to feel very welcome.