City of Derry 46, Sligo 14
City of Derry took advantage of a break in their AIL and Ulster League fixtures to record an impressive eight try friendly victory over AIL 2B side Sligo at Judges Road.
In a performance which will a pleased Head Coach Mark Nicholl, there was a brace of tries apiece for captain David Funston, full-back Peter Henderson and David Graham with Josh Lewis and Stephen Ferguson scoring one each.
Sligo started brightly but a loose kick out of defence on four minutes was clinically punished by Graham when he collected the ball 20m inside his own half and beat two men as he sprinted the length of the pitch for an unconverted try and early lead.
Sligo were caught again four minutes later when they were turned over following good play from David Houston, Stephen Corr and Johnny Lyons. Stuart Simpson, after quick ball, found Henderson who made a great break from his own half and when he released Lewis on halfway, it was a free run to the line for a try which Henderson converted to give Derry a 12-0 lead.
Sligo were still taking the game to Derry with their pack having the better of the forward exchanges. Their scrum was excellent and their forwards very workman-like in the loose but they were vulnerable to a Derry backline that had that extra class.
The visitors were undone again on 20 minutes when Jack Beattie and Ross Harkin combined to release the lively Graham who took play inside the Sligo half, beating three players before passing to Ferguson who touched down for an unconverted try and a 17-0 lead for the Judges Road men.
Sligo got in for a deserved try on 26 minutes when Brook Tremayne touched down for a try and with Gary O’Hare converting, the Connacht men were back in the game at 17-7, a score that remained the same to the break.
Derry were back on the scoreboard within eight minutes of the restart when Cathal Cregan, Chris Shields and Richard Baird set up Henderson 20m out and with a ‘show of the ball’ and a shimmy, he was in for an unconverted try and a 22-7 lead.
Sligo raised their game and showed what an excellent pack they had on 55 minutes, a penalty gving them a 5m line-out. A catch and powerful drive allowed No. 8 Rory Kerins to touch down for a try which O’Hare converted and Sligo were back in it at 22-14.
However, Derry scored two quick unconverted tries to stamp their authority on the game. First, David Funston - who was carrying ball all game - got in for a try on a ‘crash ball’ in the centre. Then, when ball was moved along the back line, Graham cleverly stood up his man to go around him and touch down in the corner as Nathan Deeney, Ryan Spratt, Tiernan Thornton and Richard McCarter were all introduced for Derry.
Derry finished the scoring with two excellent tries. Nathan Deeney drove forward before releasing David Funston to touch down with Simpson converting. The try of the game was the final score when the ball was moved along the back line and McCarter connected with Henderson who ran an incredible line to slice through the Sligo defence and touch down for a try which he converted himself for a final score of 46-14.
City of Derry; William McCleery, David Graham, David Funston (capt), Josh Lewis, Jack Beattie, Peter Henderson, Stuart Simpson, Ross Harkin, Cathal Cregan, Chris Shields, Stephen Corr, David Houston, Stephen Ferguson, Jonathan Lyons, Richard Baird, Replacements; Nathan Deeney, Ryan Spratt, Philip Duffy, Tiernan Thornton, Richard McCarter.