CDRFC 3rd XV vs Cookstown 1st XV
By Louis Fields
One point in it for the might 3's
The Mighty 3s season kicked off on Saturday against current league leaders Cookstown at Mid Ulster Sports Arena. The match was the perfect example of the clichè game of 2 halves and saw Cookstown come away as victors with the narrowest of margins.
Derry started the game well, camped in the Cookstown 22. However, they were unable to convert pressure into points. A Cookstown clearance followed by a hack kick off a loose ball from a ruck led to Cookstown getting the first points on the board against the run of play.
Cookstown gathered the restart and rarely relinquished control of the ball for the remainder of the half. Poor Derry discipline allowed the home team to use the wind to kick the ball deep and keep Derry defending in their 22. This pressure led to a penalty in front of the sticks and an easy 3 points for Cookstown.
2 more tries followed, from a short ranged hard carry and a sneaky lineout move that allowed the Cookstown prop to score almost untouched. At 20-0 down it was looking grim for Derry, but the players rallied, and managed to get some possession. Space was exploited out wide and Aaron Deery, David Jackson and Chris Killen combined to allow Killen to crash over for Derry’s first points of the game. 20-5. The comeback was on.. Or so they thought. Shortly after the restart, Cookstown responded making a break down the blindside, selling a dummy before going over for 5 points. HT 25-5
After a constructive team talk and now with the wind in their favour, Derry came back hard in the 2nd half. The first score came from an excellent break away by debutant David Jackson in the centre, breaking a tackle and running 50 meters to score under the posts.
Derry found heart and aggression that was lacking in the first half, now unleashing the backline to run in space. Aaron Deery was next on the scoresheet when Cookstown had a scrum on their own 5 metre line, the ball shot from the scrum in to the in-goal area and Deery was quickest to react, breaking from the scrum and touching it down. By now the momentum was with Derry, but frequently failed convert pressure to points.
David Jackson again broke the line in almost a carbon copy of his first try and scored between the posts again. With 10 minutes to go and 1 point in it, opportunity was there to grasp victory from the jaws of defeat. The dream comeback couldn't be completed however, as the Cookstown defence held strong, aided by a contentious decision by the referee during the last play who deemed that the Cookstown players were onside from a quick tap awarding no advantage to Derry. The ball was lost and so was the game.
FT 25-24 to Cookstown.
Despite the loss there were positives to take along with a losing bonus point and try bonus point. There were some great performances, in particular from David Jackson and Paddy Owens. Jackson and Adam Lamberton made their debuts, while returnees Aaron McIvor, Adam Kyle and Chris Killen returned after several years out.
This was just the first step in a new era for the Mighty 3s, and they will continue to build.