Armagh went into the final round of fixtures in Premiership Division One Group B a point behind Malone at the top of the table as the two clashed at the Palace Grounds for a place in the decider.
Chris Parker’s side produced the perfect response to their shock defeat at Ballymena last weekend by scoring seven tries in a 45-12 bonus point victory.
Jack Treanor got the home side’s first try on five minutes which was unconverted before Dylan Nelson went over on 26 minutes and Armagh crossed again four minutes later with Ross Taylor doting down – Sam Cunningham converted both.
David Agnew sealed Armagh’s bonus point with a fourth try on 34 minutes with Cunningham’s conversion giving the home side a 26-0 lead at half-time.
Winger Andy Willis and back-row Neil Faloon both went over for Armagh within six minutes of the restart as Cunningham added the extras for both tries.
Matthew Crowther and Connor Kelly got tries for Malone but Armagh had the final word with Evan Cromie grabbing a late unconverted score.
Ballymena – 14 times Senior Cup winners – are in danger of dropping out of this season’s competition after they finished bottom of Group B.
Under the new senior rugby structure, the bottom two in each Division One group will enter a play-off with the winner advancing to the cup quarter-final and the loser dropping in to a new shield competition, being replaced in the cup draw by the winner of Division Two.
The Braidmen travelled to Rainey in a clash of the bottom two where the Old Boys scored three tries in a 31-3 victory to leapfrog Malone to finish second in the table.
Ballymena will face Banbridge in the play-off, who needed to beat Ballynahinch at Rifle Park but lost 28-15.
Hinch scored four tries against their County Down rivals to top Group A with a maximum 15 points from three games.
After a scoreless first quarter, Banbridge took the lead with an Adam Doherty penalty on 29 minutes.
Hinch led 7-3 at the break as Conor Rankin converted his own try before Peter Cromie restored Bann’s lead with an unconverted try.
Zac McCall, Mark Best and Stephen McCauley crossed for Hinch with Rankin converting all three before Bann got a late consolation try.
Queen’s finished second in the group after a 41-7 win over Dungannon at the Dub.
The Christie brothers – Angus, Ryan and Rory – got three of the students’ seven tries.
Harry Long chipped in with a brace of touchdowns while Ryan Street and Matthew Miller each crossed once.
Instonians just need to beat Omagh at Shaw’s Bridge in their next game to win Division Two and take their place in the Senior Cup.
Paul Pritchard’s team made it three wins out of three but were made to fight all the way at The Cran against Clogher Valley before prevailing 22-15.
Elsewhere, Bangor beat Omagh 32-26.