CITY OF Derry Rugby Club travel to Co. Kildare tomorrow afternoon for a crucial All Ireland League Division 2A fixture against Naas - the team two places above them in the current league standings. (Kick-off 2.30 p.m.)
Naas are four points ahead of the Judges Road men in ninth position and with only five games remaining and a top 10 finish required to remain in the division, Head Coach, Terry McMaster won’t feel the need to stress the importance of tomorrow’s clash.
And with both teams scrapping for survival in the division, it promises to be an extremely competitive affair.
City of Derry defeated Bective in the AIL at home last time out at the end of January and McMaster and his team will be well aware of what is required to defeat Naas in their own backyard, especially with the Kildare men in such a rich vein of form at present.
Derry’s form has been good since Christmas with victories against Sligo in a friendly and Ulster League wins against Belfast Harlequins and Dungannon, with the only reversal at Skerries.
McMaster has made a few changes for the trip to Naas with Peter Henderson available again and he is expected to return at full back.
Tiernan Thornton, following a couple of good performances, makes his AIL debut start on the wing with in-form Stuart Simpson and Josh Lewis continuing their centre partnership.
Mark Walker starts at open side wing forward with Adam Bratton filling the blind side position. Stephen Corr who has
been enjoying a fantastic season in the back row, replaces the unavailable Stephen Ferguson at No 8.
This will be the sixth meeting between the teams in the All-Ireland League. In the most recent meeting last October at Judges Road, Derry were fortunate to record victory. The game was in the balance at 15pts to 14pts in favour of Derry midway through the second half. Naas missed a certain try when their winger spilled the ball as he was about to touch down with no one near him.
That mistake proved costly as eight minutes and two tries later Derry were out of sight with 15 unanswered points and a bonus point in the bag on a final score of 30pts to 14pts.
Naas will certainly prove to be formidable opposition on their own patch, however, particularly after recording three victories on the trot away to Seapoint and Nenagh and at home to Queens.
City of Derry v Naas RFC - Chris Shields, David Ferguson, Sam Duffy, Bob McKillop, David Houston, Adam Bratton, Mark Walker, Stephen Corr, Andrew Semple, Richard McCarter, Tiernan Thornton, Stuart Simpson, Josh Lewis, David Graham, Peter Henderson.