City of Derry RFC 36pts, Ards 8pts
City of Derry started their competitive season in style when they comprehensively defeated Ards in their Ulster League fixture on Saturday last at Judges Road by six try’s to one. Derry secured a bonus point victory to give new Head Coach Mark Nicholl and his Assistant Ashley Blair the perfect start to their tenure following the departure of Bevan Lynch the most successful Coach ever for City of Derry.
City of Derry started the game in perfect conditions with some intent and ten minutes of constant attacking play from backs and forwards went by without troubling the scoreboard. There were a number of unforced errors and wrong options from both sides which led to frustrations. This manifested itself in plenty of niggle throughout the game which hindered the flow of the game. The stop start nature of the game did not suit Derry’s style of play as their backline where unable to get any continuity going.
The first score did not come until twenty minutes into the game following good work from Man of the Match Adam Bratton who was playing his first game at wing forward. Bratton won a penalty for Derry ten meters out and a quick play of the ball from the ever alert Scrum Half Andrew Semple found the marauding Philip Brady in support. Brady passed to Chris Shields and the prop forward crashed over for a try between the posts, Richard McCarter converted for a 7pts to nil lead for the home team. Derry unfortunately lost Full Back Chris Barber to injury and was replaced by Peter Henderson,
Ards got themselves back in the game on thirty two minutes when their out half Mark Banford kicked a penalty from 40 meters having hit the post from the same distance two minutes earlier. The Derry scrum was solid all through with Chris Shields, David Ferguson and Steven Jefferson forming a solid front row supported by second rowers Philip Brady and Brian Prue. The scrum was the catalyst for Derry’s next score on thirty five minutes, a quick strike from Ferguson 40 meters out saw Semple finding McCarter who worked a miss move in the centre with David Funston as the decoy and Ryan Campbell showed power and pace to fend off three tacklers to score by the posts and with McCarter converting it was 14pts to 3pts for Derry.
The Derry back row of Ross Scott, Adam Bratton and Richard Baird were beginning to get on top of their opposite numbers and were continually winning the battle of the breakdown. Derry scored again before half time when the back row combined to release Baird on a break from midfield and Simon Logue continued the move and with Andrew Semple in support the gap appeared to allow the scrum half to touch down for an unconverted try. This gave Derry a 19pts to 3pts lead at the break but. Semple was harshly sin binned on the stroke of half time but Derry were happy with their comfortable lead.
The second half was ten minutes old when constant Derry pressure produced a series of strong scrums 10 meters from the Ards line. Three collapsed scrums later following superb control at No 8 by Richard Baird and the referee awarded a penalty try for Derry, McCarter converted and Derry’s lead was 26pts to 3 and the bonus point. Ards upped their game and on fifteen minutes some good play by Kyle Agnew and Banford released full back Jonny Beggs who put winger Neil Beggs in for an unconverted try to reduce the arrears to 26pts to 8 pts.
Derry were back on the scoreboard on twenty minutes when winger William McCleery produced a terrific break to make the opening for Peter Henderson to score a trademark try to increase his teams lead to 31pts to 8pts. Derry rapped up their scoring on the stroke of full time when Henderson snapped up loose ball to allow his Captain David Funston to run in to score in the corner for a final score of 36pts to 8pts and a perfect start for the Judges Road men.
City of Derry Head Coach Mark Nicholl said after the game “we have to be pleased with that start to the season. It was great to get new boys Paul McFeely, Steven Jefferson and David Ferguson game time in the front row and with Ross Scott and Tom Patton also getting time. We also used Cathal Creggan and Adam Parke and I would say we have more depth in the squad compared to last season. James Doherty’s second team had a resounding victory over Ards also by 85pts to 12pts and there are many players in his team who will be pushing for places in the coming months. We are also looking at getting some more of our Under 19 Team training with the 1st XV Squad and pushing for places on the Senior Teams. We look forward to the challenges ahead over the next month in the build up to the All Ireland League at the end of September”.
The George Tees Cup was won by Coleraine on Saturday at Judges Road.when they defeated Omagh by 15pts to 5pts in the Final. Ballymoney defeated Creggs from Co Roscommon in the Plate Final.
Notice; City of Derry’s Youth Training starts this Wednesday at 7pm at Judges Road with Bus Pickups starting next week.
City of Derry Team V Ards : Chris Shields, David Ferguson, Steven Jefferson, Philip Brady, Brian Prue, Adam Bratton, Ross Scott, Richard Baird, Andrew Semple, Richard McCarter, Simon Logue, David Funston, Ryan Campbell, William McCleery, Chris Barber, Replacements: Paul McFeely, Cathal Creggan, Tom Patton, Adam Parke. Peter Henderson
City of Derry RFC 2nd XV 85pts, Ards 2nd XV 12pts
City of Derry 2nd XV got their season off to flying start with a 13 try, 85-12 home demolition of Ards 2nd’s at Judges Road.
In perfect conditions it only took Derry 5 minutes to open the scoring when, following a series of quick rucks, hooker Cathal Cregan dived over for a try converted by full back Peter Henderson.
Seven minutes later Henderson got the first of his 3 try’s following good interplay between himself and winger Paddy Blennerhassett, the full back added the extras for a
Further try’s by Cregan & Davy Graham followed, both converted by Henderson before Derry lost centre Jamie Devine until after the half time break with a shoulder injury.
At 28pts ahead Derry took their foot of the pedal and allowed Ards in for 2 soft try’s before the break to leave the half time score 28pts to 12pts for the Judges Road men..
After the break Derry had regained their attitude and composure and, with out half Richard Peoples orchestrating play and creating space for his back line, they ran in 3 trys in the opening 5 minutes of the half through Peoples, Cregan & Graham. Two of which Henderson converted.
With the Derry pack now totally in control lead by the Gazelle like McKillop the rest of the half must have seemed like ‘Groundhog Day’ for Ards as each time they restarted Derry attacked immediately, cutting through the defence with great interplay between backs & forwards and adding a further 6 try’s by Henderson (2), Devine, Graham, Duffy & Blennerhasset before the referee blew the game up with 20 minutes left to play.
Full back Henderson converted 5 of the try’s for a personal tally on the day of 35 points.
This was a good all round team performance. In the pack the second row powerhouse of McKillop and newcomer James Fawcett helped set the platform for the backs where out half Peoples, especially in the second half, making breaks and creating space for full back Henderson who made ground and linked well with the support. Tom Patton on his return to Derry had an outstanding game at 7 showing great handling skills when putting centre Davy Graham in for a try.