Derry return to AIL with visit by Queen’s

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City of Derry will hope to begin climbing the All Ireland Division 2A table tomorrow when they host Queen’s University in a crucial clash at Judges Road (k.o. 2.30pm)

Michael WIlson reports

Mark Nicholl’s men ended a run of six successive defeats in all competitions last week with an impressive Ulster League victory over AIL pacesetters Banbridge, a win the reinforced Nicholl’s view that Derry will challenge at the top of the table.

“In the past few matches we’ve lost, the performances have not been too bad,” explained Nicholl who will be without Chris Cooper for the game, “But I am delighted with last week’s win, hopefully it can kick start our 2013.”

Last week’s 33-25 victory was only secured thanks to a stirring second half fightback after the locals trailed 20-0 and the Derry Head Coach knows his team can ill afford to keep handing out soft tries.

“The performance wasn’t bad. In the first half we were poor defensively and gave away three soft tries but in the second half we were good. I told the players at half-time to tighten up at the back, make their tackles and the chances would come.

Derry and Queen’s lie ninth and tenth respectively in the Division 2A table with both teams having played seven games, Derry winning three times and Queens twice. Derry, on 15 points, holds a two point advantage over tomorrow visitors and have played Queens already this season in the Ulster Senior League in September when the locals ran out convincing winners by 38-25. However Nicholl knows that result will have no bearing on tomorrow’s and is expecting a typically fast moving encounter against the Students.

”Queen’s will be a totally different side. They love to run from deep at pace and get the ball wide so if we can tighten up our defence and bring back some players we have a good chance of winning. If we can manage to keep the majority of players fit we know we will be there or thereabouts at the top come the end of the season.”

The two teams last played one another in AIL Division 2A on the final day of last season when Queens came out victorious by 32-14. On that occasion the Students were in with a chance of claiming promotion had Malone lost their fixture against Seapoint, so they are a side used to competing at the top of the table. City of Derry and Queens fixtures have been tight affairs over the last couple of years and another close encounter can be expected on Saturday between two team who like to play attractive, fast flowing rugby.

City of Derry (from); Steven Jefferson, David Witherow, David Ferguson, Sam McAuley, Sam Duffy, Paul McFeely, Bob McKillop, Brian Prue, David Houston, Stephen Corr, Tom Patton, David Funston, Richard Baird, Jack Caithness, Richard McCarter, Simon Logue, Chris Barber, Ryan Campbell, David Graham, Peter Henderson.