CITY of Derry Second XV progressed to the quarter-final of the Towns Cup with a well deserved 27-26 victory over Rainey Seconds, in a game that ebbed and flowed throughout, at Judges Road, on Saturday.
It was a thrilling encounter which went right to the wire and kept the large crowd entertained and doubting the result until the last minute.
The home side started slowly and after six minutes poor defence cost them a try when the Rainey centre McClelland scored under the posts and with out half Cassidy converting the lead was 7-0.
Rainey doubled their lead after fifteen minutes following a poor cross field kick from Derry, their full back Dillon fielded the ball on his 10 metre line. He attacked and linked with his backline to see the winger Campbell score a try wide out and with Cassidy converting Rainey to a 14-0 lead.
Derry settled at this stage and from broken play centre Paddy Blennerhassett kicked through and scored a try to bring the score back to 14-5.
The visitors attacked from the kick off and set up a series of rucks inside the Derry 22. Some poor defence around the fringe of a ruck allowed the Rainey prop and captain Ian Hutchinson to go over for an unconverted try and Rainey moved 19-5 in front.
On the stroke of half-time a kick and chase saw City of Derry winger Adam Blair show great pace to beat the cover defence and dive on the ball for a try which out half Richard Peoples converted to leave the half-time score 19-12 in Rainey’s favour.
The introduction of Gareth Beattie at the start of the second half saw the Derry pack totally dominate the scrums for the remainder of the game.
The second half was just eight minutes old when a storming run by Bob McKillop saw him link with his out half Richard Peoples who powered over for a try which he converted himself to level the tie up at 19-19.
The out half gave his side the lead 10 minutes later when he slotted a penalty from 30 metres after Rainey were penalised for a high tackle and Derry went in 22-19 front.
The game was there for the taking with Derry dominant up front where their from row of Captain Rodney Balfour, Cathal Cregan and Gareth Beattie supported by second rows Bob McKillop and Adam McDuff where in charge of the forward exchanges. But it was the Rainey who regained the lead with six minutes remaining when they score a converted try and they were 26-22 in front.
From the kick off Derry took play into the Rainey 22 where they were awarded a penalty five metres from the Rainey line and opted to take a scrum. The dominant Derry pack put immense pressure on the Rainey front row who collapsed the scrum on four occasions and a penalty try looked a certainty but they managed to clear their lines eventually to the bewilderment of both teams and the large crowd.
Derry continued pressing and with two minutes remaining they were awarded a penalty and Peoples kicked to the corner for a line out.
Man of the Match wing forward Johnny Lyons won the ball and set up a maul, two of the Derry backs joined in and drove Rainey over their line with winger Adam Blair touching down for his second try to give the home side the lead and victory by a score of 27-26.
For Derry the pack were outstanding with Lyons, Beattie, Balfour, Cregan and McKillop outstanding. In the backs out half Peoples controlled the game and the pace of the back three of Robbie Logue, Adam Blair and David Murdock always troubled the Rainey defence.
City of Derry Seconds: Rodney Balfour, CathaL Cregan, Ross Harkin, Bob McKillop, Adam McDuff, Ryan Spratt, Johnny Lyons, Ross Scott, Phil Duffy, Richard Peoples, Adam Blair, Paddy Blennerhassett, Stephen Brennan, Robbie Logue, Davy Murdock, Replacements: Gareth Beattie, John Laverty