Highflying Highfield face a testing period as they bid for another AIL promotion

Highflying Highfield face a testing period as they bid for another AIL promotion
The Highfield and City of Armagh front rows come up during a scrum. Picture: Jim Coughlan

HIGHFIELD coach Tim Ryan will know where his side stands at the end of the next two blocks of AIL games.

The Cork team lead Division 1B and on Saturday they faced fourth-placed City of Armagh, who really tested them

The Model Farm Road club made it seven wins from seven and in the next five games they will face the second and third-placed teams and then face the same teams in the return games after Christmas.

Get over those two blocks, stay in pole position and the Cork club could make it a fourth promotion in a row.

If they do go up a division, Ryan says that his side must learn lessons from games likes Saturday’s one where they made mistakes, but still prevailed.

“This is our toughest block. You look at Armagh and Shannon around third and fourth in the table and then Wesley, who are second, next week so you are talking about three teams who are going to be in the top four at the end of the season.

“They’re all in this block and then the return fixtures in the next block so the next five games are the toughest of the year.

“So between here and February we have to keep everybody going and keep everybody focused,” says Ryan.

Miah Cronin, Highfield, tackles Timothy McNiece, City of Armagh. Picture: Jim Coughlan
Miah Cronin, Highfield, tackles Timothy McNiece, City of Armagh. Picture: Jim Coughlan

Saturday’s visitors were a tough nut to crack, but Ryan expected that from the Ulster side, having faced them two seasons ago and lost in a play-off game in Cork.

“Armagh beat us in the play-offs two seasons ago down here. They are not a bad team. You could see they play good rugby and they have good depth.

“Besides their try though, I thought we had them shut down pretty much for the rest of the game. I thought our D was quite good. I thought we maybe switched off a bit and they got in behind with a kick chase, but in the first half we should have been out of sight.”

Ryan, though, wants his side to be more clinical. They butchered a couple of scoring chances through poor execution and that is something they need to learn from.

“We had two or three opportunities with two-on-ones and a little off-load and the boys throw it forward and on the ground and it’s just not good enough. We are top of Division 1B and we want to go to 1A. If you do that in 1A you will be coming straight back to 1B. I said to the lads we need to work on getting better on that before we go there (Division 1A).

“That something we need to work on and improve as the rest of the season progresses.

“It might be a bit of rustiness because we haven’t played in three weeks and, in all fairness, Armagh have a good lineout on their own lineout and their defensive lineout was very good.

“Our lineout has been immaculate all year and, as I said to the boys, we lost as many lineout balls today as we have done in our six games so far.

“In the six games we have only lost maybe three lineouts and we did it in the first half today, but it’s not something I’d be worried about.”

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