Armoy started their season on Saturday with a hard fought win against last season’s runaway league champions and McCambley Cup winners Malone.
From the kick off Armoy used their vastly heavier pack to make head way into Malone territory and were creating good go forward ball keeping the visitors penned in their own half for long periods, however breaking down the league champs was not proving to be easy as they were disciplined in defence maintaining a good line which was hard to breach.
The deadlock was finally broken after 25 minutes, Armoy received a penalty inside the Malone 22 which was ran by the forwards. Rab Shannon crashed into the defensive line and was stopped 2 yard shy of the try line. The ball was then picked up at the base of the ruck by front row leviathan Neil Porterfield who crashed over in the corner for the opening score.
The next score was to come from the visitors and it came from a spell of open play two missed tackles on the Malone hooker gave him time to pass out to their fast backs who exploited an overlap with the winger running over and under the posts to score a converted try. Armoy felt aggrieved to have fallen behind to Malone’s first real concerted attack of the match and immediately set about restoring the balance. From the kick of Armoy regained possession after a thunderous tackle from Rab Shannon on the big Malone No.8 who spilled the ball on the 22 as a result. This was collected by Armoy second row Richard (Nibs) Gardner who hit the stunned Malone defence at pace fending off 2 tackles and powering over the line for a great try which was converted by Craig Nesbitt.
The final score of the first half came from the visitors who again worked the ball out to their backs who again moved the ball quickly down the line and into the corner for an unconverted try to make it Armoy 12 - Malone 12.
Malone made a number of changes in the second half and these fresh players were key in catching Armoy out early in the second half. Despite their scrum going backward their back row secured the ball and broke clear passing out to their very quick scrum half who ran in for a score under the posts for a try. The conversion attempt slid just outside the right upright.
Malone extended their lead moments after with an almost carbon copy of their previous score this time they crossed the Armoy line in line with the 15 meter line but again the conversion was unsuccessful but Malone had a 10 point cushion.
Armoy now reasserted their forward dominance and from a Malone defensive line out on their own 5 meter line Armoy captain managed to scoop the ball from in front of the Malone jumpers hands down into the hands of Armoy Hooker Mark Donald who charged like a rampaging rodeo bull from 5 meters out and into the corner for a score. The resultant conversion was fired over the crossbar like a cruise missile by Craig Nesbitt. Malone’s lead was now only 3 points and it wasn’t long before Armoy Nudged themselves back in front. Again some good forward play was the key and from a penalty in the Malone 22 the Armoy forwards sent wave after wave of rucks and slowly wore down the Malone defensive line. Armoy then fed the ball out to their backs where centre Jonny Wallace made space for himself with an exquisite side step and ran over from 15 meters out into the corner for an unconverted try which restored the lead for the home side by a two point margin.
Final Score Armoy 24 - Malone 22