ULSTER RUGBY SENIOR CUP FINAL: City of Derry RFC Nil v Dungannon RFC 25.

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Match Report By; Moss Dineen
City of Derry Rugby Club were frozen out by a more experienced Dungannon team in the Ulster Senior Cup Final on Thursday night last at Ravenhill. The Judges Road men found themselves fourteen points down with just five minutes gone following two converted try’s. The weather conditions were deteriorating the further the game progressed and it was not a night for playing catch-up rugby. This young Derry played themselves back into the game but were unable to convert possession into points.
The players arrived for the pre match preparations and the pitch was in perfect condition and looked a fast track made for running rugby. The kick-off time arrived with blizzard conditions pertaining and Dungannon kicked off with Derry not only facing the elements but it was as if the Ballygawley Express hit them as well. It was difficult to seeing and it was no surprise that a misfiled by Derry at the kick-off was the catalyst for Dungannon to exert all the initial pressure.
Three minutes of pressure saw former Ulster player Kieran Campbell who was playing at out half release centre Glen Telford who ran a straight line from 25 meters and touched down for a try by the posts with full back Michael Lawton converting for a 7pts lead. Derry kicked off and Dungannon were back on the attack again with winger Stuart Lester making a fine break, quick ruck ball allowed Glen Telford to lob a long pass to Michael Lawton for a simple run in to touch down for a try which he converted himself for a 14pts lead with just five minutes gone.
Derry full back Peter Henderson saved another score when he beat Telford to a Campbell chip and cleared his lines after ten minutes. Derry got themselves back into the game against the elements through sheer heart and determination that was epitomised by the work rate from David Witherow, Sam McAuley and Sam Duffy. Derry owned the ball for the next twenty minutes and Andrew Semple, Richard Peoples, David Funston along with Simon Logue probed and eventually produced an opening that saw Peter Henderson almost gave winger William McCleery a clear run to the line.
Derry had a number of drives to the Dungannon line following good line out ball from David Houston and Tom Patton, the back row of Stephen Ferguson, Stephen Corr and Stephen Simms were winning the breakdown ball and linking with the backs and strong running from Ryan Campbell kept Dungannon on the back foot. Derry were unable to break their opponents line and the score remained 14pts to Nil at half time with Dungannon being reduced to fourteen men when scrum half Jason Bloomfield was sin binned for denying his opposite number Andrew Semple taking a quick penalty.
The snow got heavier and the lines had to be cleared at half time but Derry produced the early storm in the second half with the extra man. The Derry forwards threw everything at Dungannon and they were camped inside the 22 but bad handling denied a score. Dungannon turned over Derry possession and Michael Lawton kicked a long penalty to increase his teams lead to 17pts, Lawton who was Man of the Match repeated the score on fifteen minutes and another penalty saw Dungannon leading by 20pts as the weather worsened.
The game finished as it had started with Dungannon on the attack and scoring with a try from winger Stuart Lester deep in injury time which was not converted leaving Dungannon to celebrate a Cup Final victory on a score of 25pts to Nil. The difference between the teams was that Dungannon adapted to the conditions the better and were driven on by the experience of Kieran Campbell and others who had played at a higher level. Derry to their credit came back into the game and dominated possession for most of the first half and at the beginning of the second half, but to recover from the setback of conceding 14pts in the first five minutes was an impossible task in the conditions.
City of Derry Team: David Witherow, Sam McAuley, Sam Duffy, David Houston, Tom Patton, Stephen Corr, Stephen Simms, Stephen Ferguson, Andrew Semple, Richard Peoples, William McCleery, Ryan Campbell, David Funston, Simon Logue, Peter Henderson. Replacements: Chris Shields, Stephen Duffy, Philip Brady, Richard Baird, Stuart Thompson.

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