City Of Derry RFC Notes I Team v Ballymena RFC I Team REPORT

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Ballymena 28pts, City of Derry RFC 17pts Match Report by; George Walker

City of Derry 1st XV travelled to Eaton Park, Ballymena for a pre-season training friendly on Saturday last. The fixture proved to be an excellent run out for the players as they prepare for another season. The match was played with an intensity and pace which was a credit to both teams at this stage of the season with the coaches on both sides satisfied with their charges.

Derry started brighter and after twelve minutes Hooker, David Ferguson, scored in the corner following a well-rehearsed line out move on the five metre line. Ballymena bounced straight back with a try of their own following a good midfield break from the edge of their own 22, the move was stopped on the line only for the supporting player to place the ball over the line following the ruck.

City of Derry unfortunately lost their talented left winger Simon Logue after 17 minutes of play. Logue sustained a serious leg injury which will keep him on the side-lines for up to three months. All the players and supporters wish Simon a speedy recovery from this injury.

A poor clearance kick from Derry resulted in the next Ballymena try when the ball was fielded by their winger who set up an attack which resulted in the Ballymena centre going over close to the posts for a try which was also converted. Derry however were still causing Ballymena any amount of problems, especially in the scrum where the Derry front row of Chris Shields, David Ferguson and Sam Duffy were dominant throughout. The scrum platform was allowing Andrew Semple to have uninterrupted clean ball at the base of the scrum and at the end of the first session Ballymena led Derry 14pts to 5pts.

After resuming for the second session Derry leaked another converted try when a defensive clearance kick was miscued infield, the Ballymena backs completed the simple task of moving the ball to the wing with the Derry defence all at sea. The rest of this session belonged to Derry with an excellent period of sustained pressure which resulted in an unconverted try for Richie Baird. Stuart Simpson was making his first appearance in a Derry shirt since joining from Rainey Old Boys in the close season and was now playing a pivotal role in all that Derry were doing well. The Derry backs and forwards were running straight lines in attack and taking the right options when required. At the end of the second session which Derry dominated the score was 21-10 in favour of Ballymena.

At the start of the final session Derry introduced their bench to the contest and all were keen to get involved in an attempt to impress the Derry coaches. From the solid platform created by the Derry forwards, Richard McCarter and the Derry backs were starting to run riot which was only halted by good Ballymena defence. Unfortunately Derry conceded another score against the run of play, when following a period of Ballymena pressure their winger found himself in space and strolled over for another converted try.

In the last play of the match Derry scored from another line-out move which resulted in Richie Baird carrying the ball forward and offloading to Stephen Ferguson who was not going to be stopped from 2 metres out. Richard McCarter then converted this try leaving the final score 28pts to 17pts to the Bairdmen.

Mark Nicholl the Derry Head Coach and his new Assistand Neil Beddow will be pleased with the commitment and the early season fitness levels shown by the team who will no doubt benefit from this game to shake off the early season rustiness which was evident in some passages of play. They will also have been pleased with the quality of the Derry set piece with the scrummage and line-out producing quality ball for their very exiting back line.

City of Derry RFC Team; William McCleery, Josh Lewis, David Funston(Capt), Stuart Simpson, Simon Logue, Richard McCarter, Andrew Semple, Chris Shields, David Ferguson, Stephen Corr, David Houston, Richard Baird, Adam Bratton, Stephen Ferguson.

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