Fiesty Local Derby
By Stephen Walker
(3rd XV Match Report vs Strabane)
City of Derry RFC 3rd XV Match Report
(vs Strabane 2nd XV, 5/1/18)
Strabane 2nd XV 20 - 20 CDRFC 3rd XV
Following a short break over the festive period Derry 3rd XV were looking forward to commencing their new League campaign in the newly formed Game on Regional West. Derry kicked of the campaign way facing local rivals Strabane 2nd XV, in what would be a close battle where Strabane were looking for Revenge following their performance at the Craig Thompson Stadium earlier in the season.
Derry underwent some minor reshuffling prior to the game, as J.Cassidy couldn’t travel due to illness and S.Walker pulled up injured during the warmup. Meaning they were replaced by C.McDonnell and J.Ward respectively. However, this did not affect the Derry spirits as they looked lively from the kick-off. Piling early pressure on Strabane with waves of attacks. Derry found themselves camped in the Strabane 22 but couldn’t find the final decisive pass, while Strabane struggled to clear their lines effectively.
Although Derry seemed to be dominating, it was ultimately their mistakes that lead to the opening points of the game. Strabane finally cleared their lines and ran in through some missed tackles for the opening score of the game, converting their try to leave the home side 7-0 up. Derry once again regained the momentum, playing their attacking rugby, marching Strabane back and forcing them to concede a penalties, in which C.McDonnell missed his first opportunity but converted his second with ease.
Score: Strabane 7 – 3 Derry
Strabane forwards started to ease their way into the game, proving effective with their counter rucking and turning over possession when Derry failed to commit. This allowed Strabane to capitalise on a Derry player not releasing deep in Derry territory. Strabane opted to kick for posts and extend their lead. Which was successful, opening the gap to a try with the scores at: Strabane 10 – 3 Derry.
With Strabane committing numbers to the ruck on defence this allowed Derry the opportunity to use their attacking movements, exploiting gaps out wide in the stretched Strabane defence. N. Forester capitalised on this space, joining the line of attack from full back and using his blistering pace to dance through the Strabane defence and under the posts for a Derry score before half time. C.McDonnell added the extra points, leaving the scores equal at the break.
Half-Time Score: Strabane 10 – 10 Derry
Throughout the first half Derry had looked the sharper of the two sides. Coaching staff A.McIvor and S.Lyndsey were aware that simple rugby done right would lead to a win, using the techniques the team has been developing in training in order to push forward and achieve the victory.
Strabane came out hungry in the second half, eager to please the onlooking fans who had gathered to cheer on their team. This lead to a feisty affair as both teams were fighting hammer and tongs in order to gain any advantage that would give them the victory. Both teams began to see their penalty count rising and this allowed Strabane to kick for posts, first hitting the posts and bouncing out but later capitalising from an identical angle to take the lead. However, this was soon cancelled out as C.McDonnell kicked a penalty for Derry, once again equalling the scores.
Score: Strabane 13 – 13 Derry
E.Coyle a young prospect coming through the ranks with Derry U18's was on the bench and hungry for game time. Coming on and replacing L.Murray who had looked comfortable under the high ball all day, young Coyle didn’t look out of place, getting stuck in to the Strabane players under the noses of the onlooking Strabane fans.
The intensity of the game continued throughout the duration of the game. Deep in the second half B.McLaughlin found himself in the bin following an infringement with the Strabane 9 at the back of a ruck. This allowed Strabane to continue to mount their pressure and Derry found themselves back in their own 22. Derry defence was holding strong, but the Strabane attack was relentless, sending waves of forwards crashing into the Derry defence, slowly chipping away at the gain line. This finally paid dividends for the Strabane team when they managed to rumble over for what the Strabane supporters thought must be the winner with less than 5 minutes left to play. Converting the score seen Strabane take a 20 – 13 lead over Derry.
Derry weren’t going to roll over that easily, the prolonged Strabane attack had allowed B.McLaughlin to see out the duration of his sin bin, returning Derry to full strength and mount and attack, deep into the Strabane 22. Derry were penalised for holding on and Strabane had an opportunity to clear their lines. However, like previous attempts Strabane failed to find touch, allowing J.Cole to calmly collect the ball and launch an attack. C.McDonnell picked up the ball at 10 and stepped his way past several of the Strabane players, leaving them in his path. A last ditch cover tackle slowed McDonnell but he was able to offload in contact to R.King-Magee who evaded two further covering tackles with a step of his own and ran in under the posts from 22 meters out. C.McDonnell converted and levelled the scoring once again in the dying embers of the game.
Score: Strabane 20 – 20 Derry.
Both teams were reluctant to put the ball out of play, seeing the game continue for what felt like a very tense 5 minutes. Both teams were launching attacks and supporters hearts were in their mouths as neither wanted to see their team come away empty handed. However, the ball did eventually go out and the referee called a halt to proceedings.
Final Score: Strabane 20 – 20 Derry
On the day the draw was a fair result. However, Derry will be looking forward to the return fixture later in the season, looking to push on from here, building towards their next fixture against Donegal at home, 19th January. With the goal of lifting silverware at the end of the season.