Highfield Rugby I XV 21 v City of Derry Rugby I XV 40:

5 minutes, 59 seconds Read

City of Derry Rugby Club virtually clinched promotion for the second year running when they defeated Highfield in Cork last Saturday with a four try bonus point victory. This result moves Derry into third position in All Ireland League Division 3 just four points behind leaguer leaders Seapoint with one game remaining. The top four teams in AIL 3 are promoted this season due to the restructuring of the leagues. The only mathematical possibility of Derry being denied their destiny is to loose their remaining AIL fixture without a bonus point and Banbridge who have two fixtures remaining winning with bonus points. This will be difficult with their final fixture being against league leaders Seapoint.

Derry travelled to Cork on Friday in buoyant mood following their outstanding bonus point win against Instonians the previous weekend at Judges Road. Instonians had been joint top of the league prior to that defeat but the result proved beyond doubt that City of Derry had recovered from their post Christmas form blip and were once again in control of their own chances of winning promotion. The fact that they travelled without the presence of players like the influential Bob McKillop, David Witherow, Ryan Campbell and Josh Lewis did not dent their confidence of coming away with victory from a ground and club that always demands courage, resolve and total commitment from their opponents before they accept defeat.
Derry started on Saturday with the slight advantage of a very strong cross field breeze and were suddenly rocked back on their haunches following a poor kick off reception. Derry’s defence was tested for the first four minutes but they held firm and took play into the Highfield half. Infringements at the breakdown on seven and twelve minutes allowed Richard Peoples to get the scoreboard ticking over and Derry were leading by 6pts to nil. Derry were stunned on twenty minutes when Highfield started a passing move on the half way line that went through six pairs of hands without a tackle being made, that allowed Miah Cronin to score by the posts and with Brian O’Hea converting it was 7pts to 6pts for Highfield.
Derry used the wind to great effect and accurate kicking out of hand by Richard McCarter, Richard Peoples and Peter Henderson made sure that the game was played in the Highfield half of the pitch. The Highfield pack was massive as they had four players over six foot five inches and would have weighed in with a stone advantage per player. Despite the size and physicality of the opposition, Derry got parity at line out time through Chris Cooper, David Houston, Tom Patton and Stephen Corr and with the scrimmaging going in Derry favour the set piece was a solid platform from which to work off. Derry’s front row of Chris Shields, Captain Sam McAuley and Sam Duffy were technically better that their bulkier opposite numbers and with Stephen Corr, Tom Patton and Richard Baird dominating at the breakdown quality ball was guaranteed for the Derry backs.
Richard McCarter was impressive going forward and on twenty three minutes produced sheer magic when he side stepped a defender 35 metres out and spin out of the next tackle to mesmerise the Highfield defence and release Peter Henderson for a clear run-in try which Peoples converted to put Derry back into the lead at 13pts to 7pts. Derry were well on top now and David Funston was at the centre of everything that was good in either defence or attach and he was ably supported by his wingers Stuart Thompson and William McCleery who posed a threat at all times. Derry converted their superiority into points on thirty five minutes when Richard Baird nonchalantly broke Highfield’s midfield defence with deceptive pace and a hand off and took play inside the 22 where he off loaded to Peter Henderson to run in for his 23rd try of the season and with Peoples converting Derry led by 20pts to 7pts.
Highfield came back strong before half time but great defence by Peoples and the outstanding Funston who produced a vital turn over to relieve the pressured. Derry worked the ball downfield through Cooper, Houston and Patton and when Highfield infringed Peoples slotted over a great penalty from 40 meters to give Derry a half time lead of 23prs to 7pts.
Heighfield had the better of the early second half exchanges and got in for try form Jason Carton after twelve minutes and with Brian O’Hea converting it was 23pts to 14pts for Derry. The big Cork pack were getting go forward ball and were difficult to stop but Derry stood up and were counted. They were ably led by Captain Sam McAuley and the superb Stephen Corr who was a massive physical presence that spurred on his fellow team-mates who all tackled as if their lives depended on it. Bevan Lynch had brought on fresh legs and Stephen Duffy, Stephen Ferguson, Philip Brady and Stephen Simms entered the fray to add energy and power to Derry’s play. Ferguson was producing some massive ball carries while Stephen Duffy, Brady and Simms brought intensity to the breakdown.
Derry repelled the incessant pressure and took play inside the Highfiled half and People again converted a long range penalty to put Derry in front 26pts to 14pts with nine minutes remaining. Highfield eventually breached the Derry line when Robert Bogue was on the end of a powerful driving maul to touch down for a try with 35 minutes gone, Brian O’Hea converted and the Derry lead was down to a single score at 26pts to 21pts.
Derry kicked off and this young team was not to be denied as they produced mayhem at the breakdown with the joint Men of the Match David Funston and Stephen Corr blasting the opposition out of the way to allow Funston touch down for a try which Peoples converted to give Derry a 33pts to 21pts lead with only two minutes remaining.
Derry were not finished as they went for the juggler from the kick-off, Funston collected and drove forward in his own inimitable way before finding Henderson who took play on inside the opposition half beating three men and passed to William McCleery who committed the final defender before passing to McCarter to run in from the 22 and clinch a memorable victory by touching down for the bonus point victory, Peoples converted to make the final score 40pts to 21pts to Derry. The unique occurrence dawned on everyone at the end of the game that the three Duffy brothers Phil, Sam and Stephen were on the pitch completing their first All Ireland game together for Derry making their father Seamus a proud man and giving their mother and early Mothers Day Present.
City of Derry’s next game is at home this Saturday in a top of the Ulster League clash against Ballanahinch with 2,30pm Kick-off.
City of Derry Team: : Chris Shields, Sam McAuley, Sam Duffy, David Houston, Chris Cooper, Stephen Corr, Tom Patton, Richard Baird, Andrew Semple, Richard McCarter, William McCleery, Richard Peoples, David Funston, Stuart Thompson, Peter Henderson. Replacements: Stephen Duffy, Philip Brady, Stephen Ferguson, Stephen Simms, Philip Duffy.

Similar Posts