SONI Premiership Rugby
City of Derry 5, Malone 64
Two teams but two vastly different objectives for the season and it showed as Malone ran in 10 tries against a spirited but limited young City of Derry side in the final Soni Pemiership game before next week's All Ireland League kick-off.
The AIL tables suggest only one division separates the Judges Road side from their Belfast visitors but but the gulf in class looked far greater as Paddy Armstrong's Malone controlled the game from start to finish with prop Peter Cooper superb and fly-half Callum Kelly helping himself to 14 points with a excellent display of kicking.
Armstrong will be pleased with the work-out ahead of next week's AIl 2A opener away to Nenagh Ormond but his delight may be tempered by the standard of opposition.
Derry have been brushed aside two weeks in a row now, both with a minimum of fuss, but next week will be a big step up in class.
Trevor Will is less than a month into his tenure as City of Derry Head Coach and if he didn't realise the size of the job he has on his hands before he came, heavy defeats to first Ballymena and now Malone (twice) will have highlighted the challenge.
Derry's predicament is compounded by a lack of key personnel. An already stretched playing pool is currently down seven or eight definite starters meaning young players have had to be thrust into the first XV spotlight.
The Judges Road men will improve, no doubt of that. New Zealand scrum-half Tyler Rogers-Holden's visa has come through and should be available for next week's AIL 2B opener away at Wanderers but the sooner Will gets the likes of Stephen Corr and Simon Logue back the better.
his young side didn't lack in either bravery or effort and in Jack Townley, Thomas Cole and particularly Paddy Blener-Hassett, they had players who performed well but it is a big ask to throw so many inexperienced players into AIL action simultaneously.
The irony is Derry many have taken more from this Soni Premiership game than Malone. Their performance was better than last week's Ulster Senior Cup defeat though there was only ever going to be one winner.
The Belfast men signalled their intent inside the opening 90 seconds with a try from Nathan Brown, converted by Kelly and seven minutes later the lead was 14-0 when Michael Cartmill broke two tackles to score, both tries coming down the Malone left side.
Derry were competing reasonably well up front but giving away considerable weight to the visiting pack who constantly drew extra home players in so when the ball was spread, Malone had men over.
Cooper crashed over for try number three with Ross Todd grabbing the fourth for a 28-0 lead by the 26th minute.
Credit to Derry though, they never threw in the towel and their best period of the match brought a superbly worked try for Conor Cummings that owed everything to brilliant work from Blener-Hassett.
A blindside try from Todd rounded off the first half scoring at 33-5 and it was little more than Malone deserved.
the second half followed along similar lines with Malone's experience and power, coupled with some superb off-loading, too much for the gallant young home side.
David Cave's pushover try came within two minutes of the restart to give the second half a familiar feel to the first and from there it was only a question of how many.
Further tries from Cartmill, Jack McMurty and Cooper - following an exquisite kick through from Nathan Brown brought it to 52-5. Replacement Richard Greenwood rounded off the scoring but it was academic by that point.
The real business starts for both next week and Derry have plenty of work to do while Malone will be hoping to replicate this type of clinical finishing when it really matters.
City of Derry: Ross Harkin, Cathal Cregan, Barry Lafferty, Jack Townley, Adam Bratton, David Ferguson, Callum McDonnell, Craig Huey, Killian Thornton, Neil Burns, Tiernan Thonrton, Paddy Blener-Hassett,Thomas Cole, Conor Cummings, Peter Scott.
(Replacements) Ryan King-Mayers; Paedar Meenan, Jim McCartney, Phil Duffy, Matthew Orr.
Malone: Curtis Griffiths, David Cave, Peter Cooper, Joshua Davidson, Michael Shiels, Max Porter, Ross Todd, Ryan Clarke, Shane Kelly, Callum Kelly, David McMaster, Nathan Brown, Michael Cartmill, Jack McMurty, Jack Owens.
(Replacements) Scott Finlay, Richard Greenwood, Stuart Doddington, Conor Spence, Josh Pentland.