Derry in hunt for promotion
City of Derry Rugby Club travelled to Donnybrook last Saturday to play Bective Rangers in their All Ireland League Division 2A fixture.
Derry needed a win to keep their hopes alive of finishing in second place in the league and an automatic promotion place to AIL Division 1B for next season.
The men from the North West produced an indifferent performance but still ran out winners by five points and scored five tries in the process thus getting an important bonus point win. This was Derry’s tenth successive win in all competitions and with just two games left in the AIL League there is every chance that the final promotion spot can be earned.
The conditions in Dublin on Saturday were perfect for rugby on a hard pitch. Derry started with real structure, rhythm and flow to their game and were soon dominating the game in the Bective half. The first score was arrived early as constant pressure on Bective allowed Stephen Ferguson to gobble up a loose ball 30 metres out on six minutes and when he drew in the last man Richard Baird was on hand to run in for a try under the sticks and with Richard McCarter converting it was a 7 points to nil lead for Derry.
Derry were playing some attractive rugby now and they were dominating at scrum time courtesy of front row Chris Shields, Sam McAuley and Sam Duffy and with support from Brian Prue and David Houston the back row produced on 16 minutes. Corr combined with Baird who drove powerfully for the line and then Ferguson almost got in but quick ball found Richard McCarter who connected with Chris Shields who crashed over the line by the posts for a forwards try which McCarter converted for a 14 points to nil lead.
Derry suddenly lost their way as has been a trait all season at the game entered the second quarter. They were falling off tackles giving Bective confidence and all of a sudden the shape that was there earlier was gone as a fractured defensive performance was the vogue.
It was all Bective now and it was no surprise when Daragh Fitzgerald got in for a try on 23 minutes and with Cormac O’Beirne converting Derry’s lead was back to 14 points to 7 points. Bective came straight back at Derry from the kick-off and sustained pressure again allowed out-half Cormac O’Beirne get in for a try close to the posts which he converted himself and it was 14 points all.
Close to half time Bective squandered a golden opportunity to score. Derry cleared their lines and got play to the half way line. Bective turned over possession and had men over and a try looked on as they moved the ball across the backline. Stephen Ferguson intercepted and drove forward and quickly Simon Logue was on his shoulder and it was try time as Logue sprinted in from 40 metres to touch down between the posts. Another McCarter conversion give City of Derry a seven point lead at the break.
The second half saw the Derry backs getting quality ball with centers Chris Barber and David Funston having more influence on the game along with Peter Henderson, William McCleery and Simon Logue and with Andrew Semple and Richard McCarter orchestrating affairs it was all out attack from Derry.
Bob McKillop pounced on loose ball 40 metres out on the wing after 14 minutes he drove forward and produced a sublime overhead pass to Chris Barber that led to an easy run in try. After another successful conversion the lead was now 28 points to 14 points.
On 27 minutes Baird drove forward supported by Corr and Ferguson and quick ball allowed Semple to find Peter Henderson who got in for an unconverted try and Derry lead by 33 points to 14 points.
This Derry team does not do winning easily and suddenly they switched off once more and allowed Bective a chance of winning the game. Ferdia Kenny got in for an unconverted try 31 minutes and three minutes later David Halliday got in for another Bective five pointer and the lead was reduced to nine points for Derry.
Richard Peoples steadied the ship with a long range penalty from over 40 metres near the end. Bective were still not finished though straight from the kick-off Joe Moran got in for another Bective try due to inept Derry tackling and when Cormac O’Beirne converted Derry’s lead 36 points to 31 points as injury time arrived but City of Derry managed to see the game out for their tenth victory in a row.
City of Derry Team V Bective; Chris Shields, , Sam McAuley, Sam Duffy, Brian Prue, David Houston, Stephen Corr, Richard Baird, Stephen Ferguson, Andrew Semple, Richard McCarter, Simon Logue, Chris Barber, David Funston, William McCleery, Peter Henderson. Replacements; Gareth Beattie, Stephen Duffy, Bob McKillop, Adam Bratton, Richard Peoples.