City of Derry Rugby Club I XV 19 v Banbridge Rugby Club I XV 7

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City of Derry started their competitive season in style when they comprehensively defeated Banbridge in their Ulster League fixture on Saturday last at Judges Road by three try’s to one. Banbridge had narrowly missed out on promotion to All Ireland League Division 2A along with Derry last season when they were narrowly beaten in a playoff by 16pts to 15pts away to Old Crescent from Limerick. Derry showed on Saturday why they finished last season as AIL Division 3 Champions when their play was structured and allowed an expression of class that could have swamped Banbridge by half time if some of their exquisite interplay had been finalised with conviction.
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City of Derry started the game with some intent and five minutes of constant forward attacking play resulted with Richard Baird touching down for a try in the corner which was converted by Richard McCarter to give his team a 7pts to Nil lead. Baird, Stephen’s Corr and Ferguson made for a big powerful back row who bossed the forward exchanges early and with aggressive support from Bob McKillop and Philip Brady it gave Stephen Corr the opportunity to give a Man of the Match performance that justified the word done over the summer.

Derry continued to dominate the game and with new signing Adam Bratton having a powerful game ably supported by David Funston, Banbridge found it difficult to break the defensive line. The Derry scrum was dominant all through with Sam and Stephen Duffy along with Chris Shields keeping the Bann on the back foot. Banbridge were forced to kick out of their own half to try and gain any territory, they made a mistake on twenty minutes with a loose kick into the Derry half which was pounced upon by the outstanding Peter Henderson. Henderson ran the ball back into the Banbridge half beating several players before passing to David Funston who kicked ahead for winger Josh Lewis to touchdown for an excellent try which was converted by McCarter for a Derry lead of 14pts to Nil which they carried to the break.
Banbridge came out in the second half in an aggressive manner using some physical targeting of Derry forwards to disrupt the domination they suffered in the first half. Banbridge had a man sin binned after fifteen minutes for foul play. Derry were dragged into a scrap that disrupted their focus which played into the hands of Banbridge as Derry lost concentration as a man from each side was sent to the bin on twenty minutes.
Banbridge reduced the arrears on twenty five minutes when quality possession allowed their forwards to get go forward momentum and when hooker Paul Ross got in for a try which out half Robin Thompson converted, Bann were right back in the game at 14pts to 7pts down.
The Derry bench was unloaded as the second half progressed and control was regained that allowed far more attacking play from the home side. Scrum Half Andrew Semple made a great break on twenty five minutes and good play from winger Ryan Campbell allowed captain Sam McAuley to bulldoze his way for a touchdown wide out which was not converted but left the final score 19pts to 7pts in Derry’s favour. City of Derry’s next game in the Ulster League is away to Belfast Harlequins next Saturday.
City of Derry Team: : Chris Shields, Sam Stephen Duffy, Sam Duffy, Philip Brady, Bob McKillop, Stephen Corr, Richard Baird, Stephen Ferguson, Andrew Semple, Richard McCarter, Josh Lewis, Adam Bratton, David Funston, Ryan Campbell, Peter Henderson. Replacements: Sam McAuley, Chris Cooper, Chris McDonnell, Simon Logue, Adam Parke.

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