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Armagh 16 – Naas 11 2018-12-08 17:00:00

An injury hit Naas side travelled north to face Armagh last Saturday afternoon, and again the rugby gods did not look down favourably on them. Within eight minutes they lost place kicker Peter Osborne to injury, the fourth starting back who has had to leave the field of play in the last three games.

Thankfully the heavy rain in the area stopped just before kick-off and Naas started brightly, taking the lead after only three minutes. In the very first scrum of the match they destroyed the Armagh pack, driving them back and winning a penalty. With the aid of the post Peter Osborne scored to give Naas a three point lead.

Despite the lose of Osborne, Naas were the dominant force in the opening exchanges and they increased their lead on 13 minutes. Again it came from a scrum, this time Naas moved it quickly wide from the base of it, where Fionn Carr was on hand to finish a fine move. Although the conversion was missed, Naas continued to attack and it looked like it was only a matter of time before another try was scored. On 17 minutes Armagh were forced to concede a line-out only five yards from their own line but Naas failed to gain possession from the set piece, and almost straight after that a great break by Peter Hastie split the home side defence wide open. He passed to Jordan Fitzpatrick who looked sure to score but he slipped, fell over and the chance was lost.

Not converting these chances was to come back and haunt Naas. Armagh who somehow were only eight points behind, began to grow in confidence, they began to gain parity in the scrum, and their line-out took over completely. They narrowed the gap on 25 minutes. Naas were penalised for not rolling away at a ruck, and Ryan Purvis slotted over the easy penalty chance. The visiting side did restore their eight point lead on 29 minutes. A fine charge by Graham Reynolds put the Armagh defence on the back foot, and a deliberate knock-on gave Peter Hastie a penalty chance with which he made no mistake.

But the momentum in the game was shifting and Armagh struck just on half-time. The Naas backs were penalised by referee Richard Horgan for being offside, and the Ulstermen made full use of the advantage in their favour. Harry Boyd put in a crossfield kick, Naas did not deal with it and Andrew Willis pounced on the loose ball to score. The conversion was missed and straight away the half-time whistle was blown with Naas in front by the minimum margin by 11-10.

Two second half penalties were to decide the game in favour of Armagh. On 53 minutes Paulie Tolofua was penalised for not using his hands in a tackle, and Ryan Purvis made no mistake to give his side the lead for the first time in the game. Then on 60 minutes Harry Doyle took a quick penalty from the base of a ruck, the referee deemed that Naas were not back ten yards when they stopped him and Purvis extended the Armagh lead to 16-11. Although there was still twenty minutes left this proved to be the last score of the game.

In the remaining time left Naas tried hard to salvage the game but to be honest they never really looked likely to break down the Armagh defence. Indeed just before the end it nearly got worse for them. Harry Boyd intercepted a Naas pass 30 yards out and a try looked a certainty. However somehow Peter Hastie got back to make a great tackle and save the losing bonus point for Naas.

However defeat was to be the lot for Naas, and with injuries mounting up they do not have much time to recover as they are back in action again next Saturday when they face Old Belvedere. This game is in Naas with a 2.30pm kick-off and all support will be greatly appreciated.

Armagh: Tim McNeice, Andrew  Willis, Evin Crummie, John Faloon, Ryan Purvis, Harry Boyd, Harry Doyle, Paul Mullen, Johnny Morton, Philip Fletcher, Peter Starrett, Josh McKinley, James Hanna, Robert Whitten, Neil Faloon. Replacements: Andrew Smyth, Eoin O’Hagan, James Morton, Chris Cousins, Shea O’Brien.

Naas: Peter Osborne, Fionn Carr, Jordan Fitzpatrick, Johne Murphy, Ben O’Connor, Peter Hastie, Richard Fahy, Jordan Duggan, Graham Reynolds, Conor Doyle, Paul Monahan, David Benn, Ryan Casey, Will O’Brien, Paulie Tolofua. Replacements:Cathal Duff, Jack Barry, Eoin Walsh, Max Whittingham, Ross Baily Kearney.


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