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Taylor's try proves crucial as Armagh lift first Medallion Shield

RS Armagh 10 Friends' School 6

By Jonathan Bradley

Royal School Armagh claimed their first ever Danske Bank Medallion Shield title with a hard fought 10-6 win over Friends' School at Kingspan Stadium.

Despite lifting the Schools' Cup on nine occasions, Armagh's only previous success at Medallion level came in the 2007 Plate, but they finally got their hands on the top honour after a contest that was decided by a sole try through captain Pete Taylor.

A game that was rearranged from its original date to allow the playing surface at the home of Ulster Rugby a chance to recover from heavy rain was played in conditions more suited to mid-winter than mid-March.

After both sides traded turnovers in the opening minutes, there were only 180 seconds on the clock when Taylor danced through the Friends' defence.

Remarkably, it would be the only try of the game and full-back Ethan McAtarsney's fine conversion from the touchline ensured it was a quick 7-0 lead.

A penalty for offside soon gave Friends' out-half Reece Malone a chance to reduce the arrears and he knocked the kick over.

Taylor was nearly in again after charging down a clearing kick but Friends' scrambled back.

A third high tackle of the early stages from his side saw Armagh lock Kyle George sent to the bin as diminutive scrum-half David Scott broke for the line off a well worked line-out move.

Armagh would see through the period with 14 men though as the horrible conditions brought plenty of thrills and spills.

Back to a full complement, Armagh ended the half in the ascendancy, adding continuity to their attacking play, but they could not force their way across the whitewash and 7-3 was how it stayed until the turn.

But Armagh quickly extended their lead in the second half, McAtarsney with his second fine kick of the day despite the wind initially blowing the ball from the tee as he approached the penalty.

Some more heavy hits saw the referee talk to both captains but Friends' missed the chance to cut the deficit from another penalty awarded for a high tackle.

Captain Malone was successful off the tee soon after to move his side to within four points with 15 minutes remaining and it was all Friends' from then on.

A well worked move in midfield saw the backline combine to spread the play wide and looked set to see the Lisburn school take their first lead but Fergus McEwan was tackled into touch.

Armagh had their second man sent to the sin bin when winger Josh McClure was shown a yellow but again they saw the period out.

Attacks came down both wings but Armagh used the touchline well to deny their opponents the space to score. And after some breathless final minutes, a knock-on in midfield with the clock turned red sparked wild celebrations from the Armagh side.

Royal School Armagh: E McAtarsney; J McClure, P Taylor, R Taylor, C Whiteside; R Morrow, C Worth; J McBride, C Rolston, S Rainey; K George, P Irvine; J Roberts, J King, R Finlay

Replacements: J Cunningham, A Willis, K Welch, B Nguyen, J Denley, J Allen, S Harrison, J Partidge

Friends' School Lisburn: J Anderson; F McEwan, S Patterson, Jack Harte, S Scorer; R Malone, D Scott; R Shields, M Pringle, J Harte; B Greeenhill, E Terris; M Glass, S Le Seelleur, M Gillespie

Replacements: W Campbell, B Rowlatt-McCormick, E McCarry, P McElhinney, R McGucken, B Topping, K Gormley, M Gilmour

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