City Of Derry RFC Notes: I XX 13 v Banbridge RFC I XX 28 REPORT

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Banbridge 28pts, City of Derry RFC 13pts
Match Report by; Moss Dineen

City of Derry Rugby Club travelled to Banbridge on Saturday last for their ninth All Ireland League Division 2A Fixture of the season and suffered only their second AIL defeat of the season. The game was in doubt with an inordinate amount of rain falling on Saturday morning and over the previous week. The venue was in doubt as Derry left for Banbridge with the home pitches at Rifle Park unplayable and the game being transferred to Banbridge Academy Grounds,
Derry arrived in Banbridge at 1pm and the Schools 1st Pitch was playable but the weather was bitterly cold with a biting wind and intermittent showers. Derry had previously won their last six fixtures in all competitions against Banbridge since they returned to Senior Rugby. The pre match preparations and the “is the game on or off mindset” may not have been ideal for Derry. Banbridge showed no mercy from the off as they were well up for the fixture and with a hunger that was matched with a ferocious intensity and it was going to take a gigantean performance from Derry to extinguish the Banbridge fire.
Derry had the better start and got an early penalty on five minutes which was missed from 35 meters but good strong driving by prop Chris Shields two minutes later gave full back Mark Robinson and easy penalty shot from 25 meters in front of the post to give the Judges Road men a 3pts to nil lead. Banbridge began to look dangerous as they got more possession, an off side penalty from Derry on fifteen minutes was converted by Ulster Player scrum half Ian Porter from 40 meters to level scores at 3pts all.
Banbridge came straight back at Derry from the kick-off and a powerful break in midfield from centre Andy Morrison and a couple of miss tackles saw Porter connect with winger Hugo Harbinson who touched down in the corner for a try and with Porter converting Derry were behind by 10pts to 3pts with eighteen minutes gone. Derry were trying hard to get some decent possession and good play going forward from scrum half Simon Logue won a penalty which Robinson converted on twenty minutes to reduce the deficit to 10pts to 6pts.
The remainder of the half belonged to Banbridge and Porter kicked two penalties for pressure on twenty four and thirty four minutes to put the Bann in front by 16pts to 6pts. Banbridge confirmed their superiority on thirty six minutes when Man of the Match Ian Porter again made a break from a ruck in misfiled and linked again with Andy Morrison who touched down for a try which Porter converted for a 23pts to 6pts lead. They carried that score line to the break which for the Derry Coaches and Supporters could not come soon enough.
Derry came out fired up for the second half as they made their first line breaks of the day. Stephen Ferguson produced with two strong carries in succession on three minutes, with play going left quick ruck ball had Simon Logue diving over for a try wide out and with Mark Robinson converting Derry were right back in the game at 23pts to 13pts down. Derry were finally playing well and they had a golden chance on fifteen minutes to reduced the arrears to just one score between them with a penalty 20 meters out. The inextricable decision to kick to touch for a 5 meter lineout saw a miss throw and possession turned over with Banbridge storming down field with their tails up.
Banbridge had been given the chance to regain control and they did as a series of ten pick and drives on twenty minutes saw big second row Simon McKinstry flop over the line for an unconverted try and a 28pts to 13pts lead for the home team. The game was over as a contest but Derry did finish the stronger as they should have scored a consolation try near the end but bad decision making thwarted good play and commitment.
This result sees Derry dropping to joint third in the league along with Ballymena and Barnhall just four points behind second placed Queens. The Derry team will be disappointed with their performance but they don’t have to wait long to readdress the situation as next Saturday at home they have Highfield from Cork in their next AIL Fixture.
City of Derry RFC Team V Balnbridge : Chris Shields, David Ferguson, Sam Duffy, Chris Cooper, Stephen Corr, Richard Baird, Stephen Dickey, Stephen Ferguson, Simon Logue, Andrew Semple, Ryan Campbell, Adam Bratton, David Funston, Jack Hargan, Mark Robinson. Replacements: Cathal Cregan, Steven Jefferson, Bob McKillop, Paul McFeely, Stephen Brennan

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