City of Derry RFC 36pts, Bective Rangers Nil.

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City of Derry RFC 36pts, Bective Rangers Nil.
Match Report by; Moss Dineen
City of Derry RFC got their All Ireland League Division 2A campaign back on track with some aplomb at Judges Road on Saturday last when thy scored six try’s and came away with a deserved bonus point victory. This win lifts Derry up the league table to eleventh position and with restructuring of the league next season the Judges Road men need to finish in the top ten to remain in the same league they are in now. Derry are now within striking distance of the three teams above them in the league and with five fixtures remaining they are in the perfect position with a return to form to finish the season in style.

The weather was Baltic at Judges Road on Saturday with a northern gale blowing in over the snow clad hills of Donegal and down over the Foyle and towards the Limavady Road end. The Bective players no more wanted to be in Derry after a four hour journey north especially as a welcoming hail shower turned the pitch from green to white just before the kick-off. The Dubliners won the toss earlier in the heat of the clubhouse and elected to play against the elements and as they lined out, the breeze would send a polar bear running for cover but there was nowhere to hide and then “who let the dogs out” was it Terry McMaster. The Derry players were unleashed and they did not disappoint the Dubliners as they tore into them with a hunger and a game plan that would have blown any team away.

Derry went straight into all out attack from the off and won a penalty after two minutes, Semple kicked to touch 10 meters out. Hooker David Ferguson found David Houston in the lineout and wing forward Adam Bratton drove on and with the rest of the pack in support Stephen Corr touched down for a try and when Semple converted Derry were in front by 7pts to nil. The hills covered in snow looked closer than they were but all of a sudden they seemed to be on the half way line as far as Bective were concerned as they fluffed the kick off and struggled to get into the Derry half for the remainder of the half.

Derry scored again on five minutes as Bective gave away a penalty just inside their own half. Andrew Semple caught them sleeping as he tapped to himself and sprinted nearly 50 meters to touch down for a try which he converted himself and Derry were ahead by 14pts to nil. The Dubliners kicked off short and turned over possession again and were once again pinned to their collar to keep Derry at bay.

The home side pack of forwards were well on top as their scrum dominated with Ross Harkin, David Ferguson and Chris Shields in the front row winning the battle there. Bob McKillop was once again outstanding as his ball carrying and tackling inspired those around him, Captain David Houston was on top in the lineout and he pressurised the opposition on their throw. The Derry back row worked well together with Adam Bratton at wing forward all over the place and with the in form duo of Stephen Ferguson and Stephen Ferguson in support they looked a massive unit that never gave Bective an inch.

Derry nearly got in on sixteen minutes following a kick ahead by winger David Graham, Bective under pressure gave away a 5 meter scrum but Derry could not cross the line. Three further scrum restarts for Derry inside the Bective 22 came to nothing but the pressure was mounting and it was only a matter of time before the home team scored again. Bective lost their scrum half to the sin bin on twenty minutes and from the penalty Semple kicked to the corner for a 5 meter line out. Stepehn Corr was just stopped short but it was all out attack from Derry.

Richard Peoples back at out half was pulling the strings for Derry and bringing his backs and forwards into the game. Derry won a lineout through Houston on twenty seven minutes and the forwards produced a great drive to 20 meters out. Semple switched play and found David Graham with a cut out pass on the left wing and he touched down for an unconverted try and Derry were ahead by 19pts to nil.

The fourth try and the bonus point was beckoning before half time and it would take the pressure off while playing against the gale in the second half if it were to come before the break. There was never a worry as Stepehn Corr and Adam Bratton did the spade work and Bob McKillop showed his power and commitment to turn over ball on thirty two minutes near half way. Josh Lewis who was having a great game at centre and Peoples combined to release Stuart Simpson to make a great break and Peter Henderson from full back almost got in for a try. William McCleery quickly recycled the ball and Semple picked out the outstanding Man of the Match David Ferguson to touch down for an unconverted try and a 24pts to nil lead at half time.

The teams went to the changing rooms at half time to get in out of the cold. Derry returned with the batteries recharged and their tackling and defensive display was the highlight of the second half. Derry worked hard and in the process pinned Bective in their own half. The Dubliners went to kicking aimlessly and got disheartened the further the game progressed. Derry brought on Mark Walker, Cathal Creggan and James Fawcett and the fresh legs made an immediate impact.

Ross Harkin, Josh Lewis and William McCleery combined to release Adam Bratton on twenty three minutes and he beat two men as he powered forward and then passed out of the back of his hand to Stephen Ferguson. Stavo was in the clear and ran in from 30 meters out to touch down for a try and when Semple converted Derry were ahead by 31pts to nil.

The game was over as a contest and Bective were now a beaten team and would not have scored if they were playing for another couple of hours. Jonathan Lyons came from the bench and was playing well and involved in all Derry’s good play. Jack Beattie was also on and looking to get his hands on the ball at every opportunity. Derry finished the game on top and the outstanding Andrew Semple was once again there as the Derry pack drove forward on thirty five minutes. Semple released Chris Shields out right to run in for an unconverted try and round off a terrific team performance and a 36pts to nil victory.

Derry’s next game is on Saturday week at home to Dungannon in the Ulster Senior League and then they play away to Naas in the All Ireland League the following weekend. Derry will be hoping to have a full complement of players available for selection by then. The players missing last Saturday were backs; Richard McCarter, David Funston, Johnny Kennedy and Chris Barber. The forwards missing were; Sam Duffy, Richard Baird and Chris Cooper.

City of Derry RFC Team V Bective RFC; Ross Harkin, David Ferguson, Chris Shields, Bob McKillop, David Houston, Adam Bratton, Stephen Corr, Stephen Ferguson, Andrew Semple, Richard Peoples, William McCleery, Stuart Simpson, Josh Lewis, David Graham, Peter Henderson. Replacements; Cathal Creggan, James Fawcett, Jonathan Lyons, Mark Walker, Jack Beattie.

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