Derry taught costly lesson in Galway

Andrew Semple races through a gap in the Belfast Harlequins lines at Judges Road on Saturday. INLS3711-206KM
Andrew Semple races through a gap in the Belfast Harlequins lines at Judges Road on Saturday. INLS3711-206KM

CITY OF Derry coach, Bevan Lynch admitted his side were ‘taught a lesson’ by early Division 2A leaders, Corinthians, in Galway on Saturday afternoon as the Judges Road men slumped to their first defeat of the AIL campaign.

Having watched the Ireland team crash out of the World Cup early on Saturday morning, Lynch’s troops mirrored the lacklustre Irish performance against a team that played accurate, error-free rugby and whose emphasis was on attack.

Corinthians were slick and punished Derry’s unforced defensive errors and now sit on the summit of the AIL Division 2A Table thanks to Saturday’s bonus point victory and their opening day win away to Midleton.

Although the Derry coach recognised that Corinthians were a well drilled and highly skilled outfit, the Kiwi was bitterly disappointed with his side’s performance.

“The lads and I got taught a lesson about what to expect from a good Second Division outfit,” claimed Lynch. “Their scrum was solid, the line-out was reliable and they mixed it up with width and direct attacks.

“We, on the other hand, leaked three tries 10 minutes before the break, we didn’t secure our line-out ball and made a lot of unforced errors.”

Lynch was also disappointed with the second half effort, despite out-scoring the hosts. “We, as a team, have never been in that situation (29-0 behind) and despite scoring a good try after a patient build-up, we then lost our shape with poor decision-making and individual, rather than structured attacks saw us look very ordinary.

“We are a good side when we stick to the structures we have established over the last three years. We have a lot of work to do this week before we host Old Crescent.”

Significant Breeze

The conditions were remarkably good on Saturday considering the forecast, but Derry chose to play into a significant breeze in the first half.

Like recent encounters Derry started with an impressive series of phases which resulted in a penalty which Richard Peoples failed to convert.

However, the slick Corinthians outfit deployed an expansive game and after an early penalty they added a score on eight minutes when both backs and forwards combined on a sweeping 70 metre move which saw them awarded a five metre scrum. And a strong series of carries saw their blindside score an unconverted try.

Derry then had a positive period but much of the good work was undone by a lack of support at the breakdown, unforced turnovers and the jittery line-out woes returned and this gifted a buoyant home team the momentum.

The next Corinthians score was the first of three defensive errors which all resulted in tries. An off the top line-out ball saw the Corinthian out-half stroll through a huge defensive gap and, despite a great tackle from Peter Henderson, the Corinthians players were lining up to run in their second try on 20 minutes. The conversion was added and Derry found themselves 15-0 in arrears.

The visitors would have been happy to turn around with the elements and a 15 point deficit but the yellow card of influential half-back Andrew Semple on 29 minutes, for impeding a supporting player, proved to be significant.

Little was learned from the previous score and the out-half again took a familiar route through the non-existent line-out defence with the same result on 35 minutes making it 22-0.

Sensing Derry were there for the taking, Corinthians went on the attack after Derry made a clumsy challenge from the kick- off which gifted the home side good field position.

Penalised

The desperate Derry outfit were penalised again inside their ‘22’ as they tried to slow the ruck ball.

After a long injury break which saw Chris McDonald’s afternoon end, the awareness of the well drilled side was evident.

As management and physios were still leaving the field, the Corinthian half-back was allowed to re-start play and a 50 metre cross-kick was taken brilliantly by the right winger who was unmarked with Simon Logue filling in at half-back for the sin-binned Semple. The converted score took it to 29-0.

The hefty margin was always going to be a big ask for Derry and despite dominating territorially with the elements and Peter Henderson scoring a converted try after a patient build-up after 14 minutes, there was little else to raise management’s spirits.

The Corinthians out-half finished a mistake-ridden half with a penalty on full-time to leave Lynch and his coaching team with plenty to ponder ahead of this weekend’s clash against Old Crescent at Judges Road.