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Maximum joy for Armagh as champions bid to retain title


Armagh took their first step towards retaining their SONI Ulster Rugby Premiership Division One title when they proved too strong for Ballynahinch 32-19 at Palace Grounds.

In a competition that only consists of five matches, Armagh have a maximum five points and jointly head the table with both Banbridge and Ballymena, who defeated Malone 29-27 and City of Derry 45-12 respectively.

Armagh coach Willie Faloon felt there was little between the teams in the first period.

"We were deprived of possession but full credit to our defence who kept us in the contest," he said.

"The main difference after the restart was the fact that we won more ball and managed to hold on to it better. Gradually we edged ahead but Hinch were still in the game right to the end.

"It was a confident all-round team effort with a special mention to our defence."

Despite having a player yellow carded, Armagh were 7-6 in front at the halfway stage after Cormac Fox converted a Neil Faloon try and Justin West kicked two penalties for the visitors.

The try of the afternoon was scored by winger Robbie Faloon, who caught Cormac Fox's accurate cross-kick to dash in. Neil Faloon had a second and flanker Robert Whitten crossed for the fourth. Hinch's try came from a chargedown, with Richard Rainey gathering and West converting with the help of the post.

Banbridge, after trailing 12-14 at the interval, needed a late Peter Cromie try to narrowly defeat visitors Malone.

In the other Division One game Ballymena ran in seven tries against City of Derry.

Division 2: Bangor 22 Rainey 12, Dungannon 17 Queen's 21, Omagh 14 Belfast Harlequins 41

Belfast Telegraph