CITY of Derry returned to winning ways in All Ireland League Division 2A with a comprehensive eight try to two bonus point victory over Queen’s University, at Judges Road, on Saturday.
Head Coach Mark Nicholl was thrilled that his side made it two wins in a row.
“We are delighted to get our season back on track over the last two weekends,” he stated.
“Myself and Ashley Blair always had faith in the boys who have worked hard all season and we can look forward now to the remainder of the season with confidence.
“We are away to DLSP in Dublin next weekend and the players are hungry to get back on the pitch and continue their resurgence.”
The question on Saturday was could City of Derry carry their rediscovered form into the AIL, the answer was positive as they completely dominated Queens from start to finish.
The first 15 minutes was all pressure from Derry but they were unable to breach the Queens defence despite dominating the set piece where David Houston was winning quality ball in the lineout and he along with Brian Prue and the front row of Steven Jefferson, Sam McAuley and Sam Duffy had the step on their opposite numbers in the scrums. Despite sustained pressure Derry found themselves behind on 17 minutes.
The home side were on the attack virtually on the Queens line but a loose pass was intercepted by full back and Captain Chris Colvin. He showed great pace and power as he fended off a few tackles to run the length of the pitch to touch down for a try between the posts and with out half Ritchie McMaster converting Queens were 7-0 in front.
Soon after Derry were back level when winger David Graham made a great break deep into the Queens 22 and with quick ruck ball produced by the marauding back row of Stephen Corr, Tom Patton and Richard Baird, scrum Half Jack Caithness had time to pick out David Houston who strolled in unchallenged for a try, which was converted by full back Peter Henderson.
Derry were in the lead on 36 minutes when they were awarded a penalty try following four scrum resets five metres from the Queens line. Peter Henderson converted for a 14-7 lead.
Queens eventually got some decent possession in the Derry half and were rewarded with a penalty from the trusty boot of Ritchie McMaster and the half-time score was 14-10 in favour of City of Derry.
Derry put the result beyond doubt in a ten minute spell at the beginning of the second half.
The welcome return to form of No 8 Richard Baird was clearly evident as he was giving a Man of the Match performance with elusive running and vision to use support and space. Baird picked up loose ball in midfield on four minutes and broke into the Queens half to find Jack Caithness in support who released winger Simon Logue to run in for a try and when Henderson converted Derry were in 21-10 in front.
The home side brought on Bob McKillop and David Witherow to beef up an already dominant Derry pack which was not good news for an already under pressure Queens eight.
City of Derry had the four try bonus point on 60 minutes and it was that man Baird again who set up a crucial ruck near the Queens 22 following good play by the Derry backline going left. Jack Caithness found Richard McCarter who switched play to find ex-Queens player Tom Patton who touched down for a try. Henderson converted and Derry’s lead was 26-10.
Soon after Derry got in for another unconverted try when Chris Barber capitalised on pressure from the Derry pack and the lead was now 31-10.
Derry brought on Paul McFeely at prop and David Ferguson at hooker and they continued the home team’s dominance at the set piece. Queens backline had always the potential to produce given any quality ball and they showed what the can do on 70 minutes. Ritchie McMaster made the initial break and he found replacement winger Justin Rea who sprinted in to touch down for a try and when McMaster converted Derry were 31-17 in front.
Moments later the try of the game came when David Houston made a great break in midfield and he found Chris Barber in support who showed his class to chip ahead and his pace did the rest to touch down for a memorable try, which was converted by Henderson, leaving the final score 38-17 in favour of the Judges Road men.
City of Derry: Steven Ferguson, Sam McAuley, Sam Duffy, David Houston, Brian Prue, Stephen Corr, Tom Patton, Richard Baird, Jack Caithness, Richard McCarter, David Graham, David Funston, Chris Barber, Simon Logue, Peter Henderson. Replacements: David Ferguson, Paul McFeely, David Witherow, Bob McKillop