All Ireland League Round Robin: City of Derry 55 Richmond 3

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The prerequisites required for City of Derry Rugby Club to keep alive their dream of regaining Senior Status before they played Richmond from Limerick in their final Round Robin Fixture on Saturday last at Judges Road was to win the game, score at least four try’s  and score as many points as possible and concede very few. The expectation was massive and the anticipation before the game left the large attendance nervous whatever about the players and coaching staff.

Derry started with the breeze in their backs but the energy, pace and intensity that they brought to their play from the off was like a volcano erupting. Richmond were stunned with the initial pace of the game and on 3 minutes Stephen Simms won possession. Richmond infringed and gave away a penalty, Andrew Semple took a quick tap and made a searing break and found Richard McCarter to run in for the first try which he converted himself.

The home crowd were stunned on 6 minutes when their Captain and spiritual leader Bob McKillop was red carded by Australian Referee Kevin Beggs for clearing the Richmond hooker Pat Humphries out of a ruck and unfortunately in the process fell on top of him knee first. This could have been a severe blow for Derry and could have interrupted their dynamic start. The fears of crowd were dispelled three minutes later when Jason Mitchell made the break into the Richmond 22 and offloaded to David Houston in support who found McCarter for a converted try by the posts.

Derry were on fire and instead of having only 14 men on the pitch it looked like they had numbers to spare all over the place. There was a rhythm and a flow to Derry’s play that was a product of exceptional coaching and for the crowd it was a joy to watch. The Derry back row of Stephen Corr, Stephen Simms and the outstanding Karl Gemmell were winning every breakdown and their support play was exceptional. Richard McCarter was having his best game for some time and on 14 minutes he fed left wing Simon Logue who made a good break and with vision exchanged passes with Karl Gemmell in support to score an unconverted try to give Derry a 19pts lead.

The fourth try came on 19 minutes to secure the bonus point, McCarter made the break and was stopped 20 metres out. Simon Logue collected from the resulting ruck and ran in for a converted try. Derry were winning clean lineout ball courtesy of the athletic David Houston and with a solid scrum producing go forward ball initiated by Sam McAuley , Jason Mitchell and Sam Duffy, the set piece was a springboard for wave after wave of Derry attacks on the back of quality possession.

Derry finished the half with two further try’s the first was the try of the game when Jared Bennett cut a beautiful line through the Richmond defence and found Simms who in turn had Houston at his side when stopped to score an converted try by the posts. The final move of the half was a penalty to Derry 20 metres out Semple took a quick tap once more and Stephen Corr powered his way over for an unconverted try to leave Derry leading by 38pts to nil at the break.

Derry were playing against a strong breeze in the second half and their back play was of the highest standard. Peter Henderson was playing his first game in a month without injury and he along with Man of the Match winger Josh Lewis, Ryan Campbell and Simon Logue they were making scintillating breaks from their own half. Twenty minutes were gone before Derry scored in the second half Peter Henderson broke from his own 22 when he was stopped the play was moved right and Josh Lewis broke several tackles to score a converted try. Richmond had a consolation score on thirty five minutes when their full back James McDermott dropped a goal for their only score of the game.

Leon Rooney presenting the "Da Vinci's Man of the Match" to Josh Lewis for his performance in the City of Derry v Richmond match.

Derry finished the game in style with two try’s, first McCarter made a break on 39 minutes and found Sam McAuley who darted in at pace from 15 metres out for an unconverted try. Rudi Moore finished off the scoring for Derry on 40 minutes when he fended off 4 players to score an unconverted try to give Derry a convincing victory by 55pts to 3pts.

The other Round Robin Fixture between Monivea and Seapoint was won by Seapoint by 33pts to 7pts which gives them automatic promotion to All Ireland League Division 3 next season. City of Derry now travel to Portadown on Saturday for a playoff with the winners also playing in the Al lIreland League next season.

City of Derry Team; Peter Henderson, Josh Lewis, Jared Bennett, Ryan Campbell, Simon Logue, Richard McCarter, Andrew Semple, Sam McAuley, Jason Mitchell, Sam Duffy, David Houston , Bob McKillop (Capt), Karl Gemmell, Stephen Simms, Stephen Corr. Replacements; Stephen Ferguson, Stephen Duffy, Philip Brady, Mark O’Connor, Rudi Moore.

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