Queens 31pts, City of Derry RFC 5pts
Match Report by; Moss Dineen
Christmas came early for Queens Rugby Club in Belfast last Saturday in the All Ireland League when City of Derry Rugby Club gave them four gift wrapped converted try’s in broad day light. There was no Secret Santa reciprocal present in sight as Queens accepted the generosity of the men from the Maiden City. The result dethrones Derry from the top spot in the league table and allows Ballymena to replace them following the Bairdmens narrow 19pts to 15 victory at home against Bruff. Queens and Derry are joint second in the league two points behind the leaders.
Giving and receiving presents at Christmas can say so much about the giver and the taker with generosity and satisfaction sometimes thrown back in somebody’s face with ingratitude, apathy and ignorance. Killarney is world renowned for tourism and visitors coming there from all over the world, it has a big German influence in Hotels and Factories. A German beneficiary not Angela Merkel a few years ago offered as a present to the town that in order to continue and maybe increase the volume of tourists they would populate the three lakes with Gondolas. When South Kerry member of the Dáil Jackie Healy Rea was asked by a reporter what he thought of the idea he said “Almighty God my good man but who is going to feed them”.
The weather was perfect for rugby on Saturday last and Derry started in positive mode with the early exchanges even as both sides looked for an opening with attacking rugby the order of the day. The Derry scrum had the edge all afternoon with their front row of Stephen Jefferson, Sam McAuley and Sam Duffy along with second row Stephen Corr and Chris Cooper giving a perfect platform for their back row to work off. There were eleven minutes gone when No8 Stephen Ferguson made a great drive supported by Stephen Dickey and they released Richard Baird who showed great power and skill to break two tackles and a try looked a certainty until he was hauled down with a last ditch tackle 5 meters out and the chance was gone.
Adam Bratton made a great break on thirteen minutes following good work from Simon Logue, Neil Burns and William McCleery but great defence held him at bay. Queens were playing well themselves and produced a fierce assault on the Derry line on eighteen minutes but great defence form Ryan Campbell, David Funston and Josh Lewis produced turn over ball and the Judges Road men cleared their lines.
Derry were back on the attack through Stephen Ferguson just after the first quarter and were getting plenty of go forward ball as their set piece was working well. Derry gave away a penalty just inside the Queens half on twenty three minutes and a quick tap and go found the North West men napping and light on defensive numbers on the left side of the pitch. Queens moved the ball quickly and used their extra numbers to release wing forward Stuart Hooks to run in between the posts from 35 meters and with Richard McMaster converting Derry found themselves 7pts to nil down.
Derry were further behind four minutes later, they were attacking in the Queens half when they were turned over and a clearing kick into the Derry half was being run out of defence when an unlucky pass went astray. Queens full back Damon Hall accepted the gift and ran in from 40 meters to score between the post and McMaster converted for a 14pts to nil lead. Derry were back on the attack again on thirty five minutes with Stephen Ferguson on the rampage again but lack of support allowed a turn over and Queens cleared their lines. McMaster finished the half with a penalty on the blow of half time to give his team a 17pts to nil lead.
Derry started the second half all guns blazing and were putting it up to Queens who eventually got some possession in the Derry half on five minute. The ball went loose in a scuffle for possession and could have gone anywhere but McMaster luckily picked the loose ball to show great pace to run in for a try between the posts from 30 meters which he converted himself to give Queens a 24pts to nil lead.
Derry went to the bench and brought on Jack Caithness, Paul McFeely, Gareth Beatty, Mark Robinson and David Ferguson early in the second half and they all made an impression once introduced. Derry worked hard and enjoyed the majority of possession as they looked for an opening. Paul McFeely, Gareth Beatty, David Ferguson and Adam Bratton carried ball at every opportunity as they never gave up the fight to get back in the game. Derry were running ball into the Queens half on thirty five minutes and a chip over the defensive line was fielded by Hall who accepts gifts handed to him and he ran 50 meters to touch down for a try and McMaster converted for a 31pts to nil advantage a score line that the Judges Road men did not deserve.
Derry tried had to the end and were rewarded right on the stroke of full time when a concerted effort form backs and forwards gave Richard Baird the chance to touch down for an unconverted try in the corner that was little reward for a very good Derry Team performance that deserved more. This result will not be dwelt on very long by Derry players or management, the defeat will be parked but the positive performance will be used as a catalyst going into to the AIL in the New Year.
City of Derry RFC Team V Queens : Stephen Jefferson, Sam McAuley, Sam Duffy, Chris Cooper, Stephen Corr, Richard Baird, Stephen Dickey. Stephen Ferguson, Simon Logue, Neil Burns, Ryan Campbell, Adam Bratton, David Funston, Josh Lewis, William McCleery. Replacements: David Ferguson, Gareth Beatty, Paul McFeely, Mark Robinson, Jack Caithness.
Queens 31pts, City of Derry RFC 5pts