The Competitive season started for Portadown Men’s 1st XV on the road to local rivals City of Armagh RFC, as they took on their 2nd XV in the conference league at the Palace Grounds. Saturday afternoon provided warm conditions for both sides, to allow fast and free flowing rugby to excite the crowds down to support both sides.
Portadown started badly as a high tackle led to a yellow card for wing Charlie Logan, but Portadown rallied together and weathered the storm against a strong Armagh 2nd XV during the opening 10 minutes, who started the scoring with a drop goal. Portadown replied strong by returning to the Armagh half and after a few phases, Brandon Gribben powered over, followed by converting his own try. Armagh responded with a try themselves.
Portadown’s set piece was dominant over the opposition, which gave the backline the upper foot to attack. This upper foot allowed fullback Tom Caesar to run under the posts untouched for the 2nd try. Armagh responded with hard yards to score twice again before half time, leaving the half time score 24-17 to the hosts.
The second half was as warm as the first, but the rugby was still being played at a great standard. Portadown continued to put pressure on the hosts, as they scored again through Caesar after another well worked piece from the backline. Despite the continued pressure from Portadown, the hosted held the Blues out and were able to score twice again, leaving the score 37-22. Despite these scores, Portadown never gave up and continued to chase the game and, through Centre Matthew Neill, Portadown scored again to leave the game within touching distance. Unfortunately, the heat wasn’t the only thing to rise, with tempers flaring at the end, leading to a red card to each team to spoil the ending to what was a great game between them, with City of Armagh winning 37-29.
Portadown can be proud of the performance that each player put in but more work is needed to finish and win these tight games. Next week, Portadown Men 1st XV host Carrick while the 2nd XV start their season away to Instonians, all support welcome!