Preview City of Derry RFC V Naas All Ireland League Division 2A, Saturday 26th October 2013
@ Judges Roads, Kick-off; 2.30pm
City of Derry Rugby Club welcomes Naas to judges Road on Saturday for their third fixture of the season in All Ireland League Division 2A for a 2.30pm Kick-off. The two sides come to the game unbeaten and they along with Queens and Ballymena who also play one another this Saturday are the only four teams in the league still to taste defeat.
Derry and Naas have played one another four times over the years at Judges Road, Naas won in season 2007-2008 by 20pts to 11pts and Derry were relegated from senior rugby. Derry were back up in AIL Division 3 after being promoted in season 2010-2011 and revenged their previous defeat with a 58pts to 6pts victory and this time Derry were promoted to AIL 2A with Naas finishing twelfth in the league. Naas were promoted to AIL 2A last season when they finished third in AIL 2B and they defeated Greystones who finished third from bottom of AIL 2A in a playoff to replace them at the higher level.
Naas have had a surprising start to the current season when they went to the Mardyke, Cork in their first game and defeated UCC by 28pts to 22pts. Then at home they defeated Cashel who were pressing for a bonus point victory at 23pts to 18pts in front with two minutes to go. Naas turned over possession and their full back David Ahern hacked the ball down field and passed to centre Henry Bryce to score a try to level the scores and with Ahern converting a great victory was sealed by 25pts to 23pts.
City of Derry have had two good AIL success so far with a bonus point victory at home to Rainey and a hard fought victory away to Barnhall. They had to come from behind to claim victory in the final 15 minutes of the game to gain a deserved 23pts to 18pts victory over the Kildare men. Since then Derry scored an astounding 76pts to nil victory over Dungannon at home last Saturday week in the Ulster Senior League. They went down to Dungannon last Saturday and came away with a narrow 7pts to 3pts win to progress to the S/Final of the Ulster Senior Cup where they meet Ballynahinch at home on Saturday 16th November.
Derry will have benefited from their physical encounter at Stevenson Park last Saturday and that is what they expected because a wounded animal in his own lair is a dangerous species. Naas have proven this season so far that they can compete up front with a strong scrum and good lineout as they did against Cashel. They also have a decent back line with pace and any turn over ball will be used quickly to capitalise on their speed out wide. Naas also have a proven kicker in David Ahern who will punish penalties conceded as he scored 18pts against UCC and kicked one from the half way line.
City of Derry Head Coach Mark Nicholl will be happy going into the game with almost a complete squad to pick from. The teams form has been good and they are now capable of winning ugly if they have to. The team completely dominated Dungannon again last Saturday as they owned the ball for the last 60 minutes of the game but weather conditions limited scoring opportunities. With the four top unbeaten teams having a shoot out against one another this Saturday a win is vital for the Judges Road men to stay at the top of the table and with Naas in Derry expectations will be high.
City of Derry RFC Team V Naas: City of Derry RFC Team V Dungannon:, William McCleery, Simon Logue, David Funston, Chris Barber, Josh Lewis, Richard McCarter, Andrew Semple, Chris Shields, David Ferguson, Sam Duffy, David Houston, Stephen Corr, Adam Bratton, Richard Baird, Stephen Ferguson Replacements; Sam McAuley, Paul McFeely, Chris Cooper, Neil Burns, Ryan Campbell.