Ophir Rugby Club Notes: I XV 46 v Virginia Rugby Club I XV 0

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Three wins from their first three League outings this season. Rarely has Ophir Rugby enjoyed such a successful start to a League campaign. And the wins have been convincing, racking up nearly 40 points against Ballyshannon and 26 against Civil Service last week. On Saturday, Virginia from County Cavan were the victims of another Ophir triumph.

It was unfortunate that the visitors had arrived with only 14 players which led to uncontested scrums, and therefore the automatic loss of the points. But on a day which was entirely unsuitable for running rugby, with a very wet and slippery pitch, Ophir displayed a master class of support play, ensuring that possession was retained at almost every breakdown. It took only 2 minutes for the home team to open the scoring, prop Gerard Crawford being driven over the line by his pack at the touchline. Davy Walker converted brilliantly and Ophir were on their way. 4 minutes later, an unlucky knock on stopped second row Gareth Anderson from crashing over.

No matter – after a rare excursion into Ophir territory Virginia were pinned back to their own half by a bruising 25 metre forward drive and after quick recycling, Anthony Davis dived over, ably supported by winger Paul McGreevy. Again, Walker was successful with the difficult conversion and Ophir led 14 – 0. Two more tries followed before half time, from out half James Milligan and winger Cillian Rooney to give Ophir a comfortable 24 point lead.

With the wind in their backs, the visitors started the second half more vigorously but again Ophir’s strong support play and clever offloads prevailed and on the 45th minute, back row David Lucas crashed over the line 5 metres from the touchline. The conversion attempt hit the post but 10 minutes later, Anthony Davis added a second try to his tally to stretch the gap to 34 points. Virginia never let their heads drop but Ophir’s confidence was high and players began to demonstrate individual flair, normally kept under wraps in a tight game. Chipping ahead, selling dummies, dodging tackles and blistering runs, particularly the latter from scrum half, Carl Davis and prop Ross Nelson, added to the spectator’s enjoyment of the game. Then Virginia enjoyed a brief spell of territorial advantage and Ophir were penalised for offside at a ruck on their 22, dead centre of the pitch. Opting for the scrum, Virginia valiantly tried to breach the Ophir line but on the 5th recycling, the ball was turned over and Ophir cleared to touch. This signalled an all out assault on the Virginia defence and James Milligan copied Anthony Davis with a second try. And in the dying moments veteran back row Neil Gray went on a typical charging run, but this time to break the despairing tackles to score under the posts. Walker re-found his kicking boots and converted to leave Ophir winners by 46 points to 0.

Next Saturday Ophir Firsts face a strong challenge at the Cottonmount from visitors, Derry YM.

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