Hoops can learn from conference loss
CI entertained an unbeaten Armagh 2s in the Conference League.
Conditions were bright, dry but with a strong wind down the pitch. The home side had wind advantage first half.
Almost immediately from K/O CI took control of the ball but fumbled in mid-field. From the ensuing hack through a very quick Armagh left wing left the CI defence behind to score under the posts. 7.. Nil.
CI regained possession at the restart and carried the ball well, working through numerous phases. Armagh eventually gave away a penalty and scrum half Cameron Stewart slotted it over. 3..7.
Both sides were playing open rugby but, with the wind at their backs, CI had most of the play. On 11 minutes a break in midfield led to a clear overlap for CI but a dropped pass and the chance was gone.
However, 2 minutes later, following a strong scrum in the Armagh 20 metre zone, a back row break led to Scott Dowle scoring in the corner. Conversion missed. 8..7.
More CI pressure ensued and 20th minute, following some good lines of running and quick recycling, Matt Butler scored a fine try. Conversion missed. 13..7.
Armagh began to apply pressure on the home side, especially in defence, and this led to a turnover which put Misi, the left wing, over for his second try. 13..12.
Armagh were now dominating possession. On the half hour poor tackling led to an Armagh try under the posts. 13..19.
From the K/O CI won the ball back and kept it well. Another penalty ensued and Matt Kilgore slotted it over from just inside the Armagh half. 16..19.
The last play of the first half had Armagh running with the ball and looking dangerous. CI missed 2 tackles in a row, allowing Armagh to score under the posts. 16..26. Half Time.
The first half was an even contest despite the 10-point margin and CI were to rue some careless mistakes.
Armagh had a strong wind on their back.
CI fielded the K/O and for the next 5 minutes moved up the pitch, retaining possession, keeping it tight. However, a careless pass after a blindside break was intercepted and the Armagh winger ran 60 metres under the posts. 16..33.
From the K/O CI again held the ball for some time, playing into a strong wind. However, a fumble gave Armagh possession and their centre scored a fine try. 16..40.
Clever use of the wind by Armagh put CI on the back foot. Trying to run from deep. 10 minutes left and pressure led to another mistake and a try. 16..47.
To our credit CI came back and after some good lines of running, and hard yards from the pack, substitute Pete Raine scored in the corner. 21..47.
Despite the elements CI kept the pressure on Armagh right until the last minute. However, a turnover on the Armagh line, ball passed to their winger, and he ran the pitch to score under the posts.
Final Score: CI 21. Armagh 54.
There is no doubt that Armagh thoroughly deserved the win even if the score was a little flattering. They are a strong, fit, organised side with pace out wide.
However, CI have “reasons to be cheerful” too.
Numerous changes were always going to make this a difficult fixture.
The home team’s first phase possession was good, in both scrum and lineout. The pack kept control of the ball for large parts of the game, even into the wind.
A young back 3 ran well with the ball. We scored 3 tries, could have been more.
Careless mistakes accounted for at least 3 converted tries, probably more. These can be fixed.
Lots to do in the next 2 weeks before our trip to Carrick.
CI Team: A Coulson, S McNarry, A Keefe, D Cobain, C Tipping, J Gilliland, S Dowle, M McConkey, C Stewart, P Beverland, J Newell, M Kilgore, N Burns, M Butler,C Devlin.
Subs: T Acheson, P Raine.