Bruff take no prisoners against Derry
By Louis Fields
Bruff 1st XV RFC 45 - 15 City of Derry 1st XVRFC
City of Derry RFC 1st XV Match Report
(vs Bruff, 6/10/18)
Bruff 1st XV RFC 45 - 15 City of Derry 1st XVRFC
Round 2 of the AIL 2C saw Derry travel to Limerick to take on Bruff RFC, the home club of John Hayes, Ireland’s most capped forward of all time. Having lost their opening round away to Middleton, Bruff would be hungry for a win and this was certainly going to be a tough test for Derry. To summarise, Bruff knew how to maximize their chances and turn possession into points. Derry had plenty of the ball and with the lineout functioning and with a solid scrum, this provided the perfect platform to attack. However, this is a very unpredictable league and a this was a game Derry let get away. At half time, the game was there for the taking and Derry were rightly confident of bringing points home. However, rugby is a hard game to predict. Bruff took their chances to secure a bonus point win much to the bewilderment of City of Derry. Derry were left to think about how this game got away from them and must use training this week to address some areas exposed by Bruff. Giving teams too much space, missing touch and forcing the game will be costly. Derry got a lesson from Bruff in how to win. Winning is absolutely vital if clubs are to survive the All Ireland League and Division 2C was a very close affair last season. Winning does not always have to be pretty and Derry have shown enough to date that they do have potential to win big, although winning away from home and grinding out results is an absolute necessity.
The game started with Derry defending resolutely and it took a number of concerted efforts by Bruff to finally break the deadlock on ten minutes when winger Liam Barrett crossed the line to score. Out half Tony Cahil converted. A few minutes later, Derry were pressing hard and looked likely to score when Liam Barrett was shown a yellow card for slapping the ball down. The resulting penalty was kicked in the corner, line out was good and Derry moved the ball into midfield, switched it back to expose the gap left by Barrett’s departure and allowed Davy Graham the space to get over the line. Conal Gill converted. 7-7
As Derry were growing into the game probing and pressing, the momentum was shifting towards Derry who looked comfortable with ball in hand. On 25 minutes this changed. Paddy Blennerhasset went down and stayed down for nearly ten minutes, suffering a bad knee injury that will be assessed in the coming days. The game restarted when Conal Gill slotted over a penalty for Derry to lead 10- 7. Callum O Hagan was on as replacement. The stop in play hampered Derry’s momentum and Bruff, keen to get back into the game, threw everything at Derry using their considerable size to make ground. As Derry defended gallantly, Bruff went all the way to the left then all the way to the right, allowing full back Kevin Mc Manus to come through on an overlap to score just before the break. 12-10 at half time.
Denis Posternack carried well all day and was having a real impact on the game. Simon Logue was always looking for options and in the process got snagged on more than one occasion by the on rushing forwards. In order to create, Derry needed to steady the ship and build the phases, be patient and continue to take the game to Bruff. The second half was just that, Derry began composed and in control, with forwards like Adam Bratton, Stephen Corr and Gerard Doherty all carrying the ball with the prospect of Derry winning looked a reality. Despite this, Derry were to be undone when Conal Gill missed touch from a penalty, Bruff immediately countered and with Derry falling off tackles, Bruff got in behind to score and convert. Bruff now lead 19-10. Derry lost their rhythm and Bruff took full advantage, finding another gear everytime they got a sniff of the Derry try lin. Bruff secured their try bonus midway through the second half when outhalf Cahil got his side moving. Cahil slipped the ball inside and outside, having numerous options when he finally gave a delightful inside ball to centre Cain Teirney to glide in under the posts. Conversion left the score at 26-10.
Derry were left shell shocked at being so far behind on the scoreboard and when the second yellow of the day was produced to Bruff’s Tom O’Dwyer for slapping the ball down, it was a chance for Derry to press home the numerical advantage. Derry needed to make the most of it but Bruff knew how to kill a game off, slowing the ball and staying composed. With Stephen Duffy and Ross Harkin on, Derry were keen to get something from the game, a massive try saving tackle by Thomas Cole set up a 5-metre lineout. Bruff stole the lineout and moved the ball into the hands of onrushing forwards. The power of big men going forward in unison is hard to stop and Bruff came away with yet another seven points, Tom O’Dwyer scoring Bruff’s fifth try just back from the sin bin. 33-10.
Derry were left with no option but to run everything in an effort to restore some pride but one pass too many was Derry’s undoing, Denis Posternack shipped the ball out wide, but replacement Prop forward Paddy Cleary gambled and intercepted the pass to run in Bruff’s sixth try. 38-10 with less than ten minutes to go. Derry now at sea were not going to lie down, there is far too much pride in the jersey for that to happen. With the high work rate and commitment second to none, Derry surely had to get some reward. Just as Derry were making progress, the Derry scrum that had been solid all day disintegrated right on the half way line with Corr going backwards, struggling to control the ball and having to scramble to regain the ball, eventually being penalsied for offside. Bruff kicked to the corner, caught and drove over the line for the eight try and to leave it 45-10 with a few minutes remaining.
Derry had the last word as this side has a real good spirit, self-belief and will play rugby right up until the final whistle. Derry backs and forwards linked up well and as Philip Duffy nearly got in the far corner, the ball was kept alive and moved wide for the unstoppable Stephen Corr to score. Conal Gill took the conversion quickly through a drop-kick but was well off the mark. Derry kept pressing right up to the end, coming close to yet another try. Time was against the visitors and the game ended 45-15 to Bruff.
Derry will be bitterly disappointed to leave with nothing from this game. The second half implosion was by no way a reflection on the game. Bruff were not that much better but took their chances and points when the opportunities arose. Derry need to be more clinical and maximize the time spent in opposition’s 22 metre line. A lot of effort and no reward is hard to accept, but as this team learns from these experiences and as they continue to improve, Derry will return to winning ways very soon.
Next week, Saturday 13th October 2.30pm KO, City of Derry welcome a Seapoint point team who have lost both their opening games in the AIL to the Craig Thompson Stadium. Derry can expect another fiercely competitive game. The physicality of the modern game is taking its toll as a number of players picked up knocks, Neal McCauley will be busy in the week ahead. However, such is the feel good factor around the club and the seconds and thirds winning, there is an abundance of players wanting that first team place.
Other results this week include Bangor winning 39-10 against Thomond, Tullamore losing to Ballina 36-17, Seapoint losing to Middleton 28-10 and with Omagh winning 32-17 at home against Malahide, the league is well and truly off and running with everything to play for.