City of Derry RFC 46pts, Sligo RFC 14pts
Match Report by; Moss Dineen
City of Derry 1st XV played their first friendly fixture in midseason for some time on Saturday last at Judges Road when Sligo from All Ireland League Division 2B were the visitors. Derry won by eight try’s to two with a brace apiece from the trio of Captain David Funston, Peter Henderson and David Graham with Josh Lewis and Stephen Ferguson scoring one each.
The weather was perfect for rugby on Saturday with the only problem a low sunset. Sligo started brightly but a loose kick out of defence on four minutes was clinically punished by David Graham when he collected the ball 20 meters inside his own half and beat two men as he sprinted the length of the pitch for an unconverted try. Sligo were caught again four minutes later when they were turned over following good play from David Houston, Stephen Corr and Johnny Lyons. Stuart Simpson after quick ball found Peter Henderson who made a great break from his own half and when he found Josh Lewis on the halfway line it was a free run to the line for a try which Henderson converted to give Derry a 12pts to nil lead.
Sligo were taking the game to Derry with their pack having the better of the forward exchange. Their scrum was excellent and their forwards very workmanlike in the loose but they were vulnerable to a Derry backline that had that extra class. Sligo were undone again on twenty minutes when Jack Beattie and Ross Harkin combined to release David Graham who looked very lively all through. Graham took play well inside the Sligo half beating three players in the process before passing to Stephen Ferguson in support to touch down for an unconverted try and a 17pts to nil lead for the Judges Road men.
Sligo got in for a deserved try on twenty six minutes when Brook Tremayne touched down for a try and with Gary O’Hare converting the Connacht men were back in the game at 17pts to 7pts down a score that remained the same to the break.
Derry were back on the scoreboard within eight minutes of the restart when Cathal Cregan, Chris Shields and Richard Baird setup Peter Henderson 20 meters out and with a show of the ball and a shimmy he was in for an unconverted try and a 22pts to 7pts lead. Sligo raised their game and showed what an excellent pack they had on fifteen minutes, a penalty gave them a 5 meter line out and a catch and powerful drive allowed No 8 Rory Kerins to touch down for a try and with O’Hare converting, Sligo were back in it at 22pts to 14pts down.
Derry scored two quick unconverted try’s to stamp their authority on the game, firstly David Funston who was carrying ball all game got in for a try on a crash ball in the centre and then when ball was moved along the backline David Graham cleverly stood up his man to go around him and touch down in the corner and the score was 32pts to 14pts. Nathan Deeney, Ryan Spratt, Tiernan Thornton, and Richard McCarter were on for Derry.
Derry finished the scoring with two excellent try’s, firstly Nathan Deeney drove forward before releasing David Funston to touch down for a try and Stuart Simpson converted. The try of the game was the final score when ball was moved along the backline and Richard McCarter connected with Peter Henderson who ran an incredible line to slice through the Sligo defence and touch down for a try which he converted himself for a final score of 46pts to 14pts for Derry.
City of Derry RFC Team V Sligo; William McCleery, David Graham, David Funston(Capt), Josh Lewis, Jack Beattie, Peter Henderson, Stuart Simpson, Ross Harkin, Cathal Cregan, Chris Shields, Stephen Corr, David Houston, Stephen Ferguson, Jonathan Lyons, Richard Baird, Replacements; Nathan Deeney, Ryuan Spratt, Philip Duffy, Tiernan Thornton, Richard McCarter.