By Moss Dineen
City of Derry Rugby Club suffered only their second home defeat of the season at Judges Road on Saturday last in the Ulster Senior League. Derry were well beaten by Ballynahinch who out scored the home side by seven try’s to two and Derry in the process conceded fifty points for the first time in four seasons. Ballynahinch have already secured promotion to All Ireland Division 1B next season and they came to Derry to avenge their Senior Cup defeat last November when they were comprehensively beaten by 35pts to 12pts.
Ballynahinch played some sparkling rugby right from the start on a beautiful afternoon and Derry matched their intensity. Derry came to the game on the back of two outstanding victories in AIL 3 against Instonians and Highfield and the product of their labours incurred in those two fixtures was evident for all to see. Derry were without Chris Shields, David Houston, Tom Patton, Josh Lewis, Simon Logue and they had Sam McAuley and Ryan Campbell on the bench. The goal for Derry this season was promotion to AIL 2 and with the result of their final All Ireland fixture at home to Naas this Saturday crucial to that goal then going to war against Ballynahinch was not an option when the major battle had been won against them when it mattered most last November.
Derry were first on the scoreboard on Saturday with a magnificent penalty from Richard Peoples from inside hi sown half on five minutes. Ballynahinch retorted with an unconverted try from Cullen after 13 minutes to leave the score 5pts to 3pts to the Hinch. The game ebbed and flowed through the first half and Richard Peoples kicked two further penalties on 20 and 30 minutes from near the halfway line to give Derry a 9pts to 5pts lead. Hinch finished the half the stronger and with try’s from Johnny Simpson and McAleese which he converted himself, it was a 17pts to 9pts lead for Ballynahinch at the break.
Hinch started the second half in style when Josh Madden got in for a try converted by McAleese on 3 minutes for a 24pts to 9pts lead. Andrew Semple went from the half way line on 49 minutes beating three men to touch down for a try following good work from Richard Baird it was 24pts to 14 for Hinch. Ballynahinch were gifted the next two try’s and 14pts within 5 minutes, firstly Graham intercepted a loose Derry pass on the half way line to sprint in for a try and then Harte replicated the same deed following another Derry miss pass, with McAleese converting both it was 38pts to 14pts for Hinch.
Robin Curry just back from University in Cardiff got in for a Derry try on 26 minutes which was converted by Peoples to reduce the arrears to 38pts to 21pts for the Hinch. Ballynahinch completed the scoring with two try’s on 72 and 76 minutes both scored by James Briar one of which was converted by McAleese to leave the final score 50pts to 21pts for the Hinch.
City of Derry Team: : David Witherow, Stephen Duffy, Sam Duffy, Phil Brady, Chris Cooper, Stephen Corr, Stephen Simms, Richard Baird, Andrew Semple, Richard McCarter, William McCleery, Richard Peoples, David Funston, Stuart Thompson, Peter Henderson. Replacements: Sam McAuley, Stephen Ferguson, Robin Curry, Philip Duffy, Ryan Campbell.
By Moss Dineen