Kukri Qualifying 1: League Play Off

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City of Derry and Armagh clash again, this time for the Kukri Qualifying League’s top prize.

As a result of both sides finishing in joint top spot in the Kukri Qualifying League 1, Armagh will play City of Derry tonight (Monday 22nd March), at Shaw’s Bridge (KO 7.45pm) to decide on which side will represent Ulster in the AIL play-offs.

The match will be refereed by Simon McDowell.

To get you in the mood for this crucial game in the history of both clubs we have below reports from both teams final matches in the standard league season. The matches took place last week.

City of Derry v Dromore

From the City of Derry Website.

13th March 2010: City of Derry 64 Dromore 17

City of Derry Rugby Club completed their Kukri Ulster Qualifying League campaign on Saturday last at Judges Road when they ran out convincing winners against third in the table Dromore Rugby Club. Derry scored nine trys but trailed 17pts to 15pts at half time after loosing young center Jared Bennett early in the first half which upset the balance for a period of time. The versatile wing forward Stephen Simms moved to centre at half time and showed what an invaluable all round footballer he is when he fitted in seamlessly to Derry’s talented backline.

Derry were quick out of the blocks and were three points up within minutes courtesy of out Half Richard McCarter. Dromore full back Sam Russell leveled the scores with a penalty after seven minutes. City of Derry were impressive early and Jared Bennett made the hard yards on twelve minutes to allow Captain Bob McKillop to score under the posts with McCarter converting. Derry lost Bennett with a hamstring injury suffered when creating the opportunity for his captain. McCarter added a penalty shortly afterwards for a 10pts to 3pts lead for Derry.

De Wit Becker the Dromore No 8 got a try on thirty minutes which was converted by Russell to leave the scores level at 10pts all. De Wit Becker was on the mark again on forty minutes when he got another converted try to give his team a 17pts to 10pts lead. Derry finally got their game going when they eventually built a series of phases of play in injury time that allowed Chris Cooper to touch down for an unconverted try to leave Dromore leading at half time by 17pts to 15pts.

Derry were now firing on all cylinders as the second half started and the wide channels were used to great effect by McCarter on five minutes after phases were built and full back Peter Henderson scored a converted try wide out. Three minutes later with Dromore trying to defend out wide Richard McCarter had the vision to chip the defensive line and was foot tripped as he was racing in to touch down for a certain try. The Referee awarded a penalty try and yellow carded the Dromore scrum half Tom Finn, with the bonus point secure and Derry having the extra man for ten minutes it was going to be a case of a win but the only uncertainty was by how many.

Karl Gemmell at wing forward was continuing his run of good form and scored a great try from a blind side move orchestrated by the impressive young winger Simon Logue who took three players out of the game with an exquisite sidestep his pass to Gemmell fell short but Gemmell showed his foot baling skills and volleyed the ball forward to beat the Dromore winger to touch down for a score. McCarter added another try on fifteen minutes after good pressure from the Derry pack. Cooper produced a big carry a few minutes later and found Stephen Corr who released Richard McCarter with a deft pass for an easy try.

Derry were rampant and the game was no longer a contest but there were a further two trys in the game before the Referee blew the final whistle ten minutes early. Winger Josh Lewis got his name on the score sheet before Andrew Semple added a trademark try with a pickup from the base of the scrum to run in from fifteen metres. Richard McCarter converted eight of Derry’s nine trys and with a try and a penalty to his credit also he once again proved what a valuable all round player he is.

The accolade for the Man of the Match award was a close run affair between the impressive Karl Gemmell and Stephen Simms who moved from wing forward to wing initially after Derry lost Jared Bennett through injury and then was switched to centre to alleviate problems in that area. Stephen Simms got the Da Vinci’s Hotel Man of the Match award for his all round display in three different positions.

City of Derry Team: Chris Shields, Sam McAuley, Sam Duffy, Philip Brady, Bob McKillop, Karl Gemmell, Stephen Sims, Stephen Corr, Andrew Semple, Richard McCarter, Josh Lewis, Jared Bennett, David Funston, Simon Logue, Peter Henderson. Subs; Jason Mitchell, Chris Cooper.

Limavady v Armagh

Sue Roper reports.

St Patrick’s Day 2010: Limavady 10 Armagh 45

Armagh won their way to a play-off against City of Derry when they travelled to Limavady last Wednesday, seeking a bonus point victory and came away with a 7-try score. With virtually the entire season hanging on this game this was a vital match to win but Armagh pleased the large crowd of supporters who had travelled north, with a comfortable win. The bonus points were so important that Armagh from the start pressed hard for tries disregarding any penalty attempts. But Limavady hit back well and tested the Armagh defence. After all Limavady had managed to gain and away bonus point win the week before so they were determined to give their best in order to break up the table and avoid regulation. So this was not a one-sided game like the recent 69-0 defeat of Enniskillen. The battle against City of Derry continues with both teams having completed their qualifying league programme with exactly the same points total having defeated all the other junior sides and scores in the two league encounters against one another lying at 39-39.

Injuries prevented Armagh from fielding a full side but such as the effectiveness of the squad recently that the changes which had to be made did not weaken things. Andy Hughes had vacated his position in the back row for the side line and Davy Martin had returned to the lock position. Limavady kicked off with the breeze behind them but Armagh attacked well from the start. However, they gained nothing as Limavady defended well as the did all afternoon. The Armagh three-quarters handled well and Adam Gowing chipped and caught from the 22 to cross for Armagh’s first try which he also converted. 7-0.

A cut through the centre by Limavady looked dangerous but Armagh recovered well as they did all afternoon pushing the home side back in the scrums and as usual having the best of things in the line outs largely thanks to skipper James Morton. The backs were also in good form and on 30 minutes splendid passing sent Andrew Willis in for a very typical try in the right corner duly converted by Gowing to bring the score to 14-0. The other wing Eddie Irwin put in a good run but his kick ahead rolled into touch and centre Jonny Allen was injured but continued.

A great drive by Armagh gave Timmy Clarke a try in the left corner but the conversion was wide so Armagh led 19-0. On the stroke of half time Limavady kicked a penalty but Armagh were looking confident and made good use of the wind in the second half.

Johnny Allen had a great run up-field but a pass was knocked-on, so it was back to the forwards to gain the vital try and from a scrum close the Limavady line, James Johnston drove over to get the touchdown which everyone had been waiting for. Gowing converted to bring the score to a comfortable 26-3.

The Armagh forwards were back in try-scoring mood and from a maul Melvyn Hopps went over for another try albeit unconverted. He was soon replaced by Richard Morton.

Gowing gathered a loose ball on half-way and ran ina splendid try at the posts which he gladly converted to bring up a 38-3 score and finish off what was a first class game for him. Limavady fought back very well and were disappointed to have two tries disallowed. Willis had to leave the field injured but Armagh chose not to replace him and moved Peter Elliott from wing forward to wing. Limavady scored a converted try to close the gap to 38-10, but James Morton scored the last try of the game and Gowing converted to bring the final score up to 45-10.

This was a very typical Armagh display with the backs running so effectively and the forwards dominating their opposition. Between the two sections of the team there is such a bond that the remainder of the season ought to be as successful as it has been so far.

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