RUGBY UNION: Bad day at the office for City of Derry league leaders

City of Derry scrum-half Simon Logue probes for a gap in the Dungannon lines. DER0616-104KM
City of Derry scrum-half Simon Logue probes for a gap in the Dungannon lines. DER0616-104KM

City of Derry suffered their third All Ireland League Division 2B defeat of the season when Dungannon produced a performance of spirit, heart and hunger to cause a major upset when they narrowly defeated the league leaders 9-7, at Judges Road, last Saturday.

The scores in the game all came on the first half when Dungannon through their full back Paul Armstrong kicked three penalties and Simon Logue nipped in for a Derry try with the conversion coming from Neil Burns.

This was the Judges Road men’s second defeat in a row and their worst performance of the season.

Derry still remain top of the league 11 points clear of second placed Sundays Well who have a game in hand and come to Judges Road in early March; but with four games remaining City of Derry’s destiny is still in their own hands.

Dungannon played with a strong breeze in the first half and with early pressure Paul Armstrong kicked two penalties on 12 and 18 minutes for a 6-0 lead.

Derry eventually got some decent pressure half way through the first half but on a couple of occasions were held up in the tackle to concede possession via scrums to Dungannon.

The home side continued to get some quality go forward ball and Dungannon went off side on 24 minutes and conceded a penalty just inside their own half.

Simon Logue caught Dungannon sleeping with a quick tap and go penalty down the blind side and he was gone like a thief in the night without a hand being put on his as he touched down for a try by the posts and when Neil Burns converted Derry were 7-6 in front.

Dungannon with the help of the wind came back strong at Derry but good defence kept them at bay as John Burns won a turn over penalty for holding on in the tackle to relieve the pressure.

Dungannon with more pressure won a penalty on 37 minutes and Armstrong kicked another penalty for a 9-7 lead.

Stuart Simpson was having a good game for Derry and made a few strong breaks through the centre but the home side were unable to put a few phases together and the score remained the same with Derry two points down at half-time.

The first five minutes of the second half saw Derry get four 5 metre scrums, three as a result of scrum penalties, but lack of concentration allowed the visitors to clear their lines.

Continued Derry pressure saw Dungannon cough up a penalty 35 metres out but Derry missed the opportunity to take the lead.

Simon Logue was playing well and putting his body on the line with good tackling and Terry McMaster’s side missed another penalty shot from 22 metres after 64 minutes.

Minutes later continual Derry pressure saw Dungannon prop Steven Sinnamon sent to the sin bin.

The Judges Road men turned down a kickable penalty to kick for touch but a 5 metre lineout was turned over and Dungannon cleared their lines again.

Time was slipping away but Derry were on the attack for the remainder of the game but unfortunately missed penalty shots at goal on 76, 79 and 80 minutes as Dungannon narrowly held on for a the 9-7 victory.

Derry’s destiny is still in their own hands and they have being playing terrific rugby all season but have not played well in their last two games against Greystones and Dungannon.

These disappointments happen in rugby as in life and the best thing to do is completely park the bad days then regroup and move on to achieve their destiny and win promotion to All Ireland League Division 2A.