Derry move nine clear at top of table

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City of Derry 32

Rainey OB 21

As All Ireland League Division 2B reached its halfway point, City of Derry reaffirmed their status as the team to beat with a bonus point derby victory over county rivals Rainey to move nine points clear at the top of the table.

And with Derry now having met every team in the division, it is clear the only thing that will stop Terry McMaster’s men from gaining promotion is themselves.

Saturday’s victory was a case in point as it incorporated the good and the bad of the Judges Road team who were made to work much harder than they should have been.

A blistering opening half hour saw much of the free-flowing expansive rugby that has helped Derry average more than 29 points per game in the division but once in a position of control they also showed why the lapses that explain conceding an average of more than 20 in their nine games.

Tries from David Graham, Ali Beckett and Neil Burns had the Judges Road men cruising at 19-3 until they eased off and by half-time it was 19-16 courtesy of two Josh McIlroy’s penalties and a gift of a try for Gavin Martin.

They responded brilliantly at the start of the second half again with David Ferguson’s try but were guilty of ill discipline which threatened to allow Rainey a foothold they shouldn’t have. As it was, a Neil Burns late penalty was the insurance they needed but ‘concentration’ and ‘discipline’ will be McMaster’s New Year message to his players who have the potential to be playing at a higher level.

Whether they do or not will be down to themselves on the basis of the first half of the season.

City of Derry: Rory Squires, David Ferguson, Sam Duffy, Adam Bratton, Chris Cooper, Steven Dickey, John Burns, Stephen Corr, Andrew Semple, Richard McCarter, Simon Logue, Stuart Simpson, Neil Burns, David Graham, Ali Beckett. (Replacements) Ross Harkin, Cathal Cregan David Houston, Craig Huey, David Funston.

Rainey Old Boys: Kieran Donaghy, Joe Roe, Neil O’Kane, Peter Stewart, Ronan McCusker, Bernie Mullan, Rory Winters, Darren Corrigan, Michael Pyper, Gavin Martin, Nicky Stirling, Jody McMurray, Damien McMurray, Caolan Moran. Josh McIlroy. (Replacements) Andrew Shaw, Michael Caithness, Johnny Lees, Andrew Donaghy, Matthew McClelland.

Referee: Adrian Reavey.