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Armagh seize control in red-hot title race

By Ronnie Ingram

The fate of the SONI Ulster Rugby Premiership title is in the hands of Armagh, who will lift the crown if they record a bonus-point victory against Ballymena on Saturday.

Anything less, however, and it will likely be Ballynahinch celebrating.

Armagh are currently joint-top of the table with Ballynahinch with one game to play and it is expected that the Down side will come away from City of Derry with the maximum of five points.

If Armagh match that, they will become champions as they defeated Ballynahinch 52-14 a week ago.

Ballymena are still just about clinging on in the title chase, but they are now one point in arrears after failing to register a bonus point in their 24-5 victory at Dungannon and must now pray for their rivals to get stage fright.

It may well be a big ask for the confident Armagh, who are the only undefeated team in the AIL, but any team capable of running in seven tries against Hinch must have a chance.

Hinch swept Banbridge aside with a five-try 31-0 victory on Saturday.

Their hero was Johnny McPhillips, who not only scored but also set up two for David Busby.

His two pinpoint cross kicks resulted in the winger putting them 12 points in front.

Breaks by Stuart Morrow led to two more, from McPhillips and Davy Nicholson, with Stephen McAuley adding the other. Chris Quinn had two conversions and McPhillips one.

It was a one-sided affair at Palace Grounds where Armagh scored nine tries in a 55-7 win against City of Derry in a game that started 40 minutes late.

Division 2 champions Malone finished undefeated but had to fight hard for their 12-10 victory over Queen's at Gibson Park.

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