Braidmen maintain winning form at Armagh

Ballymena's James Beattie sets off on a sixty metre run to the line in Saturday's win at Armagh. Picture: Ken Redpath.
Ballymena's James Beattie sets off on a sixty metre run to the line in Saturday's win at Armagh. Picture: Ken Redpath.

Ballymena, lying second in Division 1B of the AIL, travelled to the Palace Grounds to take on Armagh, lying fifth in Division 2B of the AIL, in an Ulster League game on Saturday.

The game was largely a story of Ballymena winning most of the ball and attacking, but it says a lot for a resolute, well organised home defence that they managed to restrict Ballymena to four tries.

Connor Smyth, whose strong running caused problems for Armagh all day, was first on the scoresheet driving over for a close range try with only five minutes on the clock.

Andrew Magrath converted for a seven point lead, but Armagh held out for another twenty minutes before Ballymena scored their second try.

From a scrum just outside their own 22 metre area centre Paddy James took at short ball at pace and opened up the defence. The ball was quickly laid back and moved wide into the hands of Connor Smyth who brushed aside a couple of defenders and off loaded to James Beattie.

With space to work in he set off for the line, and swept inside the covering Armagh full back on a sixty metre run for the try, which Magrath converted for a half time score of 14-0.

The first period of the second half was a repeat of the first, with Ballymena exerting all the pressure but it was once again a powerful scrum that produced the second try, with Matthew Rea getting the touchdown after Armagh were driven ten metres back over their line.

Magrath failed to convert, but on the sixty minute mark he was on target with the conversion of Ballymena’s next try, scored by Paddy James after another period of sustained pressure.

The lead now was 26-0, but a moment of carelessness in their own 22 allowed the home side to set up an attack, with scrum half Doyle eventually walking over the try line unopposed for a converted try. Saturday sees the resumption of the AIL campaign when the visitors to Eaton Park will be UL Bohemians.