CDRFC 1st XV vs Bangor 1st XV
By Louis Fields
Derry off to a winning start in Ulster Senior League.
Straight from the kick off, Derry chased their kick putting Bangor Under pressure, a fumble by Bangor enabled Derry to quickly capitalise on Bangor’s error. Paddy Blennerhasset quickest to react set up the perfect start when Collie Campbell touched down on the opposite wing inside the first minute. Conal Gill playing at 10 missed the conversation.
Bangor shell shocked didn’t kick the restart 10 meters giving Derry the first scrum of the game. The Derry pack showed just how formidable they will be this season with the first of many dominant scrums. The quick passing and superb line speed of Thomas Cole from Full back set up Paddy Blennerhasset to score in the corner straight from first phase. Conal Gill converted giving Derry the best possible start to the competitive season. 12-0 after 5 minutes was a near perfect start to this campaign.
As the game settled down unforced errors and some poor execution of basic skills made the game lose its rhythm. Bangor started to get some ball and tried to play some fast expansive rugby however Derry’s defence was holding strong with good organisation and tackling and in particular Captain Stephen Corr who was instrumental in leading the line.
On the 32nd minute, Bangor kicked to the corner following a penalty and from their line out worked the ball out then back inside wrong footing a sleeping Derry defence allowing Bangor to get off the mark, try was converted. 12 – 7. With 3 minutes before half time Gerard Doherty was substituted and replaced by Jack Townley.
Derry responded in the best possible way. The quick feet of Simon Logue got the ball to Stephen Corr who punched a huge hole in the Bangor defence right in the middle of the field, Stephen returned the Ball to Simon who was never going to be caught once in behind the Bangor defence. Conal Gill Converted 19-7.
With moments left in the first half Derry conceded yet another penalty as they tried to work the ball out of defence only to get snagged, isolated and subsequently penalised for holding onto the ball. Bangor put it left and wide. Ultimately Bangor would rue those missed three points.
Half time Derry leads 19-7.
The second half seen Derry change Cathal Creggan at hooker with Stephen Duffy. Derry again started the brighter sharper and hungrier of the two sides. After some great interchange play between backs and forwards, Derry once again opened up Bangor by some good direct running and with pace coming onto the ball thus created the opportunity for Paddy Blennerhasset to get in at the corner for his second try and Derry’s forth and bonus point. Conal Gill was unlucky as he hit the cross bar with the conversation. 24- 7
The game became fractured with penalties for basic infringements. The high penalty count in this game is something Derry need to be mindful off going forward. However resolute Derry continued to defend heroically however when teams are allowed to apply significant pressure cracks will appear. Davy Graham again showing his class as his covering tackles saved Derry on more than one occasion.
More changes by Derry saw thight head prop Sam Duffy, wings Collie Campbell and Paddy Blennerhasset being replaced by Ben Pollin, Jack Beatie and making his competitive debt Denis Posternak. These changes meant a reshuffling of the back line with Thomas Cole going into the centre and James Perry moving to full back. A short time later an injury to Craig Huey seen the return of Cathal Creggan to hooker and Stephen Duffy moving to the back row. Bangor on 67 minutes used to good effect a driving maul of a line out to bring the score, following the conversation to 24-14. The last ten minutes continued with Bangor trying to rescue something from the game. Bangor continued to apply the pressure and Derry continued to hold them off. Bangor unable to convert possession into scores was due primarily to Derry’s commitment, as player after player put their bodies on the line time and time again. However with five minutes to go Bangor did manage to finally breech the defence and convert. 24-21 setting up a nervous five minutes for the home side, desperate to get the season off to a winning start Derry took control and saw out the remaining few minutes to get the 2018/19 Ulster Senior League off to a winning start.
Following the game the Derry coaches Paul O’ Kane, Ian Orr and Richard Mc Carter were very satisfied with the result and performance. The game provided plenty to build on. “What was great to see was the blend of youth and experience combining well, this will form some of the building blocks as this squad strives to make the Craig Thompson Stadium at Judges Road a fortress as we build towards the All Ireland League.” Derry finished the game with five players under the age of 20 with one or two just slightly older.
Derry’s next game is against Rainey in the Ulster Senior League away in two weeks time.