Tough Encounter with Ballyclare

Ballyclare 10 UUC 11

Game of the day in section 2 was Ballyclares home game against league leaders U.U.C. was a must win for both teams. Despite leading early on against the students in the game sponsored by Reid, Black and Company, the Clare side went down by a single point 11-10 as U.U.C. dominated the second half. It looks as if the title will go to either U.U.C. or Omagh. Both have edged clear of the Ballyclare in the current league table.

On Saturday Ballyclare had the wind advantage in the first half but a well organised and very fit U.U.C. team made hard ground to put the home side under pressure. Good work by back row trio of Smith, Dillon and Millar forcing Clotworthy who was at out half to clear. A tackle by S.Morrow halted another attack by centre Johnny Henry and Byers managed to clear. But the pressure from the visitors pack front row of Wilkinson, Stevenson and O’Neill led to a penalty to U.U.C. but Murphy missed.

Clotworthy kicked to the 22 and after the visitors were penalised, the home team made ground through Clotworthy and Weatherup to put prop Boyd over for a try which was converted by Collie Morrow. The students rose to the challenge and weak tackles by the home team allowed the Uni to make ground through centre Winder and it took a superb covering tackle by Clotworthy to stop winger Rowden scoring a try. Then Collie Morrow kicked ahead and Byers followed up to be held up near the opposite line by fullback Millar. A break by Morrow and Weatherup was promising but the ball was kicked away. Another run from Baird looked promising but Reid failed to hold the pass. Following a clearance by the Students Reid was stopped near the line and U.U.C. temporarily lost capt Murphy to injury, and also wing forward Dillon who pulled a hamstring. But the Clare failed to make use of the situation and U.U.C. broke away, great handling from the backline put Hall away, stopped on the 22,quickly recycled ball by second row Darren Leonard led to the home defence going off side to concede a penalty for only for Millar to miss from a good position so it was still 7-0 to Ballyclare at half time.

In the second half the league leaders had wind advantage and used it intelligently with Winder and Millar pushing ballyclaire deep into their own half, though the first chance fell to Morrow who missed a penalty from a good position. The next U.U.C. attack following well won lineout ball from Millar led to pressure forced by imperious no8 Smith led to a penalty and this time jamie Ball slotted over the kick to make it 7-3. The Clare came back immediately and a fine penalty from Morrow gave his side a 10-3 lead. An error by Baird almost let the visitors in and Big second row Hendley should have scored but Ballyclaire’s Logan recovered possession. However the home team failed to clear the danger and U.U.C. played multiple phases and moved the ball out wide to winger Hall and he beat the Clare defence to score on the left side with the conversion wide . This made it 10-8 and the students started to exert more pressure. Yet a long range penalty by Morow was well off target after the Clare pack had made ground. Again the students forced an error in the home defence enabled the visitors to make ground into the home 22 by Smith attacking the blind side but Clotworthy did well to clear. The deciding score of the game came when the Clare pack was penalised after failing to cope with pressured work from the student front five and then Millar the fullback had won a ball he had no right to get to, was illegally hauled to the ground, this time Ball again was on target with the penalty to take the lead at 11-10 for the first time.

From this stage of the half it was the league leaders who had courageously fought back were now dominating with Man of the match Andrew Winderand wingers Rowden and Hall going close and only for strong home defence especially by Logan,Coburn,Jackson and Clotworthy the margin could have been greater. Emense forward drives from Oneill, Leonard and Wilkinson deserved a score but Claire cleared time and time again. The home team tried to run the ball from deep positions however they were unable to get out of their own 22 and the U.U.C. centres Winder and Henry and full back Millar cut them down ruthlessly on each occasion. The final whistle came giving the students the double league victory over an excellent Ballyclaire team and the all-important 4 points to try and keep pace with title favourites Omagh.

Ballyclare Team-G.Byers; J.Reid, J.Jackson, S.Morrow, J.J.Baird; G.Clotworthy, C.Morrow; A.Boyd, A.Wylie, M.Finlay; K.Johnston, M.Crothers; G.Weatherup, W.Logan (capt.), C.Coburn.

University Team – G Millar, C Rowden, A Winder, J Henry, S Hall, L Murphy, J Ball, J Wilkinson, S Stephenson, M O’Neill, D Leonard, J Henley, O Millar, P Smith, J Dillon.

Well Done Sam

Not everyone can claim to having founded a rugby club but back in 1968, this is what Dr SR Logan did, arriving as a member of staff to the Chemistry dept of the New University opened in Coleraine that same year.

During the following 44 years Sam has played for the club, has been mini bus driver, recruitment officer, Hon secretary, President and for many years Club fixture secretary and Rep to the Ulster branch clubs committee and as Joe Eggleson said at the opening of the club rooms, ” when Sam spoke people tended to listen”. His influence has been massive in all things good about the ethos and delivery of student rugby.

In the 70’s he persuaded one of the most forward thinking rugby minds in Irish rugby, JC Lapsley who had coached the famous Kings Scholars at Stranmillis,  and who also happened to be a full Irish selector to take on the coaching of the young club. By this vision of recruitment he influenced the coaching ethos of the club for three decades and indeed to the present day. He was immensely proud that in his latter academic years students who had been involved in the early days of the club would come knocking on his office door to introduce there sons who were now enrolling such as father and son Noel and Christopher Mills from Rostrevor County Down, who both played and acted as Secretary for the club.

Sam also encouraged many to take up club administration  and refereeing most notably Brian Stirling who when sustaining a playing career ending injury in his first year at Coleraine, was instructed by Dr Logan to take up the art of the Whistle! The highlight of his career of many internationals was a Bledislow cup match.

In recent years Sam decided at 70 it was time to stop doing touch judge were he kept many a referee right with his decisions and on occasions in order as to the rules of the game! He now contents himself with spectating at the home games from one of the hospitality boxes at the Cromore Road pitches now affectionately known with the players as the Sam Logan Stadium! Well Done Sam.

Dr Sam Logan being presented with one of the clubs new ties by club treasurer Simon Morgan at the recent home fixture against Lisburn.

5 points asserts lead campaign

UUC entertained Lisburn at the University looking to secure some points to keep pace with the challenge of Omagh and Ballyclaire for the section 2 title. The result a fanatic 52 – 5 win for the home team did not tell the story of the fixture. It has been the pattern in recent weeks for the students who have struggled to achieve any meaningful fluency in their game and with injuries to key players continues to blight them, however in one of those games, every time Lisburn made a mistake the young student team turned it into points. The first score came from a poor clearance which was fielded by full back Miller who was able too round the visitor’s defence to score in the corner, the conversion was missed. Although Lisburn had the better of the scrums and lineout the key factor was the students ability through some luck as well as skill to turn ball over and then punish the opposition with points on the board and good trys from Wingers Hall and Rowden (2), and centres Winder and Henry put the students into a 30 point lead by the break. Lisburn to there credit in the second half with the elements in there favour despite several injuries to key players fought hard and were rewarded with a good try and were unlucky not to score several more against the fragile home defence. The students managed trough man of the match fresher J Dillon and second row Henley to score two further trys with Millar and Murphy converting five in total. The University know they will have to be much sharper against the experienced opponents that lie ahead in the weeks to come.

Letterkenny Away

In wintry conditions at Letterkenny  the students put down a marker that there indifferent recent form is behind them with an impressive 34 – 0 win, and picking up a four try bonus point showed that even in the most difficult of conditions and against good opposition, it seems the limited university team are capable of a style and brand of rugby to ask the questions of the fancied  quality teams  in the league..

The game started with the students opening strongly and winning a lot of possession Intelligently  used by out half Murphy and  on several occasions were only a pass away from braking the Kenny defence, pressure eventually told and a penalty conceded was well converted by the uni 10 Lee Murphy.

Great line out work from Dillon and Millar ably supported by man of the match Leonard and the ever improving Neil secured good possession for the students back line and centres Tommy Guns McGlaughlin and Callum Rowden came close on several occasions, however the defensive work of the home team kept the uni out and only one further penalty was the reward for there efforts. Half time 6 – 0 to the visitors.

The students changed their tactics at half time and took on a more direct approach holding onto hard won ball rather than kicking it away aimlessly.  Excellent plays involving multiple phases of ball retention from the front 5, lead by  Wilkinson and eventually the 1st try came from 6 6″ No 8 Pete Smith.

The tries then started to flow as winger Sam Hall back from suspension grabbed a brace of tries, all 3 conversions successful from the boot of skipper Murphy.

The students pressed for the bonus point try and the fresher G Millar did not disappoint, he ghosted into the line from fullback picking up a lovely pass from scrum half Winder and although held up just short, however the diminutive prop forward Le Massif O’Neill arrived and drove him over the line in what proved to be the last play of the game. The students running out 34 – 0 victors.

Tough win away from home against Skins

Enniskillen 6 UUC 8 with 7 changes through injury and unavailability made the difficult task of travelling to fortress Enniskillen even more challenging for the uni side, but by 4pm it was job done and four vital league points secured for the young student team.

 

Andrew Winder starts flowing back move

With a strong wind straight down the field the home team choose to play with it. The story of the half was Enniskillen kicking for territory and a strong resolute student defence and good ball retention leaving no openings for a likely try, only a brace of penalties gave Enniskillen a 6 point lead at the break.

Centre Tommy McGlaughlin Takes on Skins Defensive Line

 

The students reduced the deficit to a point with a skilful box kick from scrumhalf Winder forcing a scrum five metres from the home team line and an almighty scrum from the uni 8 disrupted the ball at the back foot and several fumbles which took the ball in goal saw the 6’ 10” uni second row Darren Leonard dive at full length to touch down.

 

Moments Later Darren Leonard Scores for UUC

The rest of the half with elements in favour should have been a simple exercise for the students to push for victory however, Enniskillen showed herculean resolve in holding onto possession for up to 20 phases at a time, grinding there way out of their own half, perhaps a lack of desire in opening out possession cost them the game as the university pressure told and a penalty with 5 min to go converted by Whitcroft from 50m out sealed a superb win for the students all fifteen were out standing and skipper Lee Murphy who marshalled his troops superbly all afternoon got his reward.

Win Secured against a very tought City of Derry 4’s

The University 2nd XV squad were on the road again on Saturday past to take on City of Derry 4th XV in an Ulster Branch Minor League North fixture. The Uni lads were quietly confident having easily dispatched their opposition in the home game at Cromore road before the Christmas break. However, judging from the pre-match warm up, it was evident that City of Derry had made a few changes to the side that travelled to Cromore Road – indeed it seemed their 4th XV had been very active in the January transfer window.  The old, wise (but somewhat burly and out of shape) heads that travelled to Coleraine were replaced by younger, leaner and more athletic counterparts. Nonetheless, as Coach McCully correctly stated ‘These are the sorts of things that happen when you travel to play a senior side 4th XV and their 1st and 2nd XV’s don’t have a game. If you have a good enough team spirit you will still win’. Wise words indeed.

 

The game kicked off with the Uni men on the attack. A few early sorties into the opposition 22 were rewarded by three points from the boot of the ever reliable Richard Murphy. Restart kick-off receipt was poor, something that has been a problem for the Uni lads all season. However, what followed next was UUC shampoo rugby at its finest. A few mid-field exchanges and good Uni defence resulted in the City of Derry outhalf kicking deep into the Uni 22. Fullback David McMenemy collected the ball, and in typical UUC 2nd XV fashion, elected to run out of defence rather than put the kick in. The Armagh flyer beat numerous defenders and off-loaded the ball to a Uni player on half way. A number of great ‘take and gives’ saw the Uni lads advance to the opposition 22. As a City of Derry defender put in a good tackle, the ball was off loaded to Stevie Brown coming in at pace. Stevie cut a great angle, drew the last defender and put Richard Murphy in for a length of the pitch try. The two Uni alicadoos on the touchline were in raptures. Murphy easily converted his own try, 10-0 to the Uni. The pre-match words from Coach McCully really did seem well founded at this stage. Yet, for the next 15 mins the Uni men decided to switch off defensively, with City of Derry scoring two soft tries, both of which were converted. The young, athletic City of Derry team had their tails up at this stage and things looked ominous for the Uni boys. However, that man David McMenemy came to the rescue again! Good handling by the Uni backline saw the Armagh flyer coming into the line from fullback; with two defenders to beat he elected to chip the ball over the top. He then duly followed up his own kick, leaving defenders in his wake, for the Uni’s second try of the game. Murphy was successful with the conversion. Score 17-14 to the Uni. The whistle for half-time blew shortly afterwards.

 

The Uni lads started the second half in great spirit, buoyed by the late McMenemy score just before half-time. The Uni scored another two unanswered tries, neither of which were converted. The first went to Chris McClelland after good all round team play. The second was scored by winger, Nathan McCall, after a few good phases of play the ball was passed out the entire backline for the winger to literally fall over the line for a well deserved score. Richard Murphy also kept the scoreboard ticking over with a penalty, great game management from the fly half. The score was now 30-14 to the Uni. Surely this was game over – but far from it! The City of Derry men came back hard at the Uni boys and scored two excellent tries of their own, one of which was converted, along with a penalty goal. The score was now 30-29 to the Uni, and as the City of Derry captain shouted loudly to his players, this really was ‘game on!’. To their credit the Uni lads dug deep, and were awarded another penalty for their continued pressure in the City of Derry half. Murphy converted with ease, leaving some breathing space with the score at 33-29. A few minutes later with the clock running down the Uni boys were awarded another penalty 20 metres out directly in front of the posts. The was due mainly to great defensive work from Stevie Brown with a huge ‘man and ball’ tackle and then getting back to his feet almost instantaneously to steal ball. The City of Derry player held on to the ball for his life, still reeling from the huge hit Stevie had just put in on him, giving the referee no option but to award the penalty. Richard Murphy stepped up to convert what seemed like a straight forward three points. However, using his years of experience Richard decided to miss the penalty and therefore avoid the dreaded half-way restart (which the Uni really have been having trouble dealing with all season) and thus make City of Derry drop out from their 22 instead (I’m sure this must be what he was thinking!!). Anyhow, this proved to be an excellent decision as City of Derry kicked out long from their 22 restart. The Uni lads easily retained possession until the final whistle, gleefully kicking the ball out of play on the stroke of full time. Final score 33-29.

 

This was an excellent performance from the Uni 2nd XV squad. However, there is still plenty to be worked on. Conceding 4 tries is never something to be proud of. It would be difficult to pick out a Man of the Match, but great games were had upfront by captain Scott ‘Randy’ Stevenson, Stuart Whitcroft, Dave Coaches and Chris McClelland. In the backs, Richard Murphy had another solid well controlled game, whilst Stevie Brown,  and Lee Johnson showed flashes of brilliance, but David McMenemy created so fantastic moves from full back setting up two tries and with his fantastic counter attacking earned him Man of The Match .  Next game for the lads is a home fixture in the McCambley cup against Carrick 5’s. A successful run in the cup would really add the gloss to what has already been an excellent season.

 

Win Moves 2ndXV To Second In League

UUC 2’s welcomed Letterkenny 2’s to the Sam Logan stadium at cromore road, the weather was far from perfect with heavy rain and a bitterly cold wind. The uni started the brighter of the 2 teams in the first 10mins of the game with a charging run by blindside wing forward Bryan Boyd from the back of a rolling maul, secured by open side Kyle Hetherington encouraged the Letterkenny pack to creep in off side and give a penalty in front of the posts towards Campbell end, there was a gusting wind that would have made this simple kick quite difficult indeed. Richard murphy stepped up to the mark and made the opening score 3-0.

From the kick off a knock on saw Letterkenny getting the put in at the scrum, but the uni pack who played very well in the tight all day took a strike against the head and the uni number 8 dummied the 9 and stepped inside the 10 only to be taken down short of the 22, good recycling of the ball gave the uni back line a chance to score, but the cold day seen a knock on 8metres from the Letterkenny line.

Letterkenny fought their way back into the game and from one missed tackle out wide saw their centre charge 40metres to score and their kicker converted. 3-7 Undeterred the uni pack battled back hard and suppressed the Letterkenny back line into a hurried kick which gave the uni lads a lineout 15meters from the line, a well taken lineout by Andrew Munce saw Hetherington once again making a telling drive while popping up to number 8 Ricky Boyd who crashed over the try line, however as obvious as the score was the referee thought otherwise, from the 5metre scrum the Letterkenny backs were found off side, from a nearly identical position Richard Murphy converted the penalty, the uni and Letterkenny Touch Judges both raised their arms but yet again the referee deemed it otherwise. Half time score 3-7
Again the uni started the second half dominating position and territory, but a missed time pass 10mins into the half saw a knock by uni on the Letterkenny 5metre line, from the advantage they run the length of the pitch with a forward pass thrown in for good measure to score in the corner, conversion missed 3-12 was the score, which was against the run of play, the uni number 8 was substituted due to an ankle injury, this allowed Kyle to move into his more natural spot at number 8, and alongside McCully and Boyd the newly formed backrow took the game hard to Letterkenny with Kyle heading over the line from an inside pass, conversion scored. 10-12

UUC 2’s who are unbeaten at home this season were now determined to win this match and a penalty 5 mins from time just short of the half way line saw Murphy again strike the ball sweetly and the ball sailed between the uprights, 13-12. A knock on from the receiving kick immediately put the uni lads under pressure as Letterkenny fought hard but they could not penetrate the uni defence, hands where on heads as a penalty was awarded to Letterkenny, they struck the ball well but it got held up in the wind and the advancing centres claimed the ball and took it over the line, but uni lads held them up. Scrum Letterkenny, pick up 8 to 9 to wing and a great tackle by winger Peter McLean allowed Bryan Boyd to come in on the ball, 4 Letterkenny players couldn’t move him as they held on for a penalty to UUC.

Pressure was relieved and the full time whistle went soon after, the man of the match was awarded to Bryan Boyd who returned to the game after a 4 year absence and showed he still has what it takes. A special thanks to him as well as Peter McLean and Nathan McCall who all stepped up to the mark, and with a team whose heads never dropped and battled to the very end secured a win and the unbeaten record that stands from last season.

1stXV 6 from 6

This match billed as a top of the table clash, lived up to its expectations with a high quality, entertaining game of rugby served up by both teams despite the atrociousness weather conditions at Uprichard park. The game started with the lively student team taking the match to the home team with the University back row of Mike Dunlevey, Ollie Millar and Henley prominent with some big carries and recycled well into the Bangor 22, the home team having to work hard to clear their line, however a clever series of kicks first from scrumhalf Jamie Ball whose game management was excellent all day, and then fullback Lee Murphy kept them pinned deep in there goal line quarter of the field.
The weather very much dictated that patterns of play should be tight and probably any expansive play would be error strewn however the opening score of the game came from the university out-half Whitcroft making the brave decision to put the ball clinically through the hands of his backs and outside center Winder made a great ghosting run cutting out and then back in, totally standing the home defence up before he looped a pass to Sam Hall on the wing who ran in for a trade mark quality finish. The difficult conversion was kicked by Whitcroft, crucial within the context of the match, but reward for the 10 who had spent an hour before the game working out how to use the elements from the kicking tee, (proving the old saying right you prepare to fail if you fail to prepare) 7-0 to the visitors with a quarter of the game gone.
As you would expect from a team of Bangor’s tradition the home team came back strongly from the restart and only from some outstanding tackling on the home team midfield by fresher Henry who improves with every game coupled with the uni work horses in the second row of Danny Morgan and Darren Leonard stepping up to the mark by stopping Bangor’s ball carriers on the gain line on every occasion. The students continued to ride out the well organised onslaught and ball kicked into the swirling wind was well dealt with by the Uni wingers Rowden and Hall, despite there effort however the home team never really threatened the young visitors line. The game moving to about the half hour mark, one of the trade marks of this student team is how all 15 players contribute intelligent rugby and a superb inter passing phase from the front row of Wilkinson, Eecock and O’Neill to which any back line would have been proud of released the hard running University skipper Mike Dunlevey who beat one defender then choose to go for a kick and chase option, however the ball carried to far and went dead. Unfortunately Prop Wilkinson damaged a metatarsal and from that point on limped from set play to set play for the remainder of the game.
Bangor score to level things up, which came from the one period of the game when the students dropped there high standards and made several unforced errors, from which the home team duly punished, a kick which would have entered touch, was unnecessarily flicked back into play, the Bangor winger was quickest too react and won the loose ball as he then popped it up onto his support runner a missed tackle let him make good yards and he stood up the fullback Murphy and fed his fullback who should have been brought down, but was not and he scored and the conversion followed. 7 -7
The Students regrouped and went after the next score, the pack dominated scrum and line out starving Bangor of possession, the visitors attacked the blind side regularly keeping the dangerous Bangor midfield starved of possession, their reward for hard work came just before the break when Man of the Match Dunlevey stole a lineout which eecock drove into the Bangor’s 10 channel, a quick clear out gave the uni 9 room to operate and his precision pass releasing winger Rowden whose clever pass to Dunlevey set the big 8 running at the Bangor back three having stood them up he kicked through and promptly won the foot race to put the score at half time 12 – 7 to the Uni.
The second half saw much the same pattern for 20min both teams trying hard but rarely getting into each others 22. The telling score came on the half hour mark when the students tightened up there attack with quick pick and drives deep into the red zone , Whitcroft controlled the pack well to create the right angle to allow a drop goal attempt which bisected the posts to give the students the crucial 8 point lead. Bangor attempted to chase the game but the student’s defence not only stopped them but also turned over ball on key occasions. The home team also did not help there cause by missing a penalty attempt which would have given them a loosing bonus point. The university then showed the safest way to defend by camping on the Bangor goal line and Marty O’Neill and then Ryan Eecock crossing the score line but held up with wee Marty perhaps unlucky as some thought he had grounded. Final score Bangor 7 – UUC 15

Away win in donegal

Great away win for Uni 2’s

UUC 2’s travelled the lengthy distance to Donegal RFC, from the kick off it was clear that the Donegal were out to make good on the 62-0 defeat they suffered at the Sam Logan Stadium. Both Donegal and Uni started off brightly with both teams defending tremendously with both teams missing some scoring opportunities at the posts but it was UUC to score first from some beautiful hands taking the uni lads up to the Donegal 22 but failed to capitalise, Matt ‘Tails’ Hill had a fantastic game at fullback controlling the game well, and importantly keeping Donegal back in their own half with well fielded kicks, but the sustained and constant pressure that
Was exerted onto Donegal resulted in a penalty just before half time, Richard Murphy once again showing his fine kicking ability took the 3points.
Half time 0-3
UUC made one change as Joe ‘Zeus’ McKinney was replaced by Liam ‘George’ O’Discin at the half time break. The second half saw the uni lads start with far more vigour than Donegal, such was the intensity number 8 Aaron Doherty charged down a kick just past the UUC 10metre line, kicked the ball on, and showing a fantastic turn of pace beat the Donegal winger to slide over the line, Conversion slotted over my Murphy 0-10.
This sparked the game into life as Donegal were now chasing the game and the defensive line led by returning backrower who put in massive tackles all day causing turnovers, this never let Donegal anywhere near the UUC try line. From a resulting scrum Doherty picked up a great hook by Scott ‘Randy’ Stevenson beating their seven and stepping 10, his line drew in the covering winger, he then popped up to the uni 9 who got hauled down just short of the line but hand the whereabouts to put a pass up from the deck to oncoming support of Stuart Whitcroft who went over in the corner, conversion missed 0-15
As Donegal were chasing the game hard now, they were starting to throw the ball wide at any occasion but the unrelenting pressure from the UUC backline saw a speculative pass picked of by Whitcroft who went half the length of the pitch to dot the ball below the posts, Murphy kicked the conversion 0-22
The rest off the half saw UUC play most of the game in Donegal territory, but on occasions couldn’t exploit their field position as the lineout was letting them down, but continued pressure resulted in Ty Young making a great hit followed in by Hetherington and it was a penalty for UUC Donegal were holding on, Murphy again calmly stepped up to the mark and took on the 3 points 0-25.
5 mins before time saw Hetherington making a break from the back of a maul beating 2 defenders, a breaking a great tackle he popped the ball outside him to supporting prop Linsey ‘Phats’ McLaughlin who burst over the line, but alas the referee deemed it a forward pass. Final Score 0-25
A great performance on the road for the UUC lads as returning player Kyle Hetherington scooped the man of the match award for his outstanding efforts on the pitch.
Next up is Letterkenny at home who are mid table and a very capable team indeed, the lads will have to hit the training fields this week to ensure a home win.

uni seconds return to winning ways

Uni were simply superb as City Of Derry were the visitors and the freshly strengthened side saw the return of Joe McKinney, Aaron Doherty as well as the long awaited return of Andrew Munce to the second row, the uni now at full strength for the first time in 2 weeks had a team that wanted to prove a point.
The weather conditions were perfect for playing, however it was the City Of Derry lads who scored first from a messy ruck, a hack on and a more than suspect grounding of the ball saw a score for them in the corner, conversion missed. 0-5

The solid front row of Linsey McLaughlin, Scott Stevenson and Dave McCullough dealt with the larger City Of Derry pack well as they ensured unyielding scrums all day long, and from a scrum on the halfway line, quick ball along the back line saw a great backline move up towards the City Of Derry 22, when the forwards recycled the ball well and lock Daniel Morgan broke through several defenders to crash over the line, conversion missed 5-5 it was game on.

City of Derry battled back hard, soon after kick off with a sustained period camped on the Uni try line, but fantastic defence by both forwards and backs shown the way by Andrew Munce and Joe McKinney lead to the uni lads forcing a penalty from City Of Derry,

this was the vital turning point in the game, as you could visibly see the intensity of the Uni step up considerably, and as they increased the pressure in the last 20mins of the half the uni scored 3 more times from Berge, McMenemy and Whitcroft, half time score 24-5

City Of Derry kicked off the second deep into the Uni 22 and a moment of miscommunication saw no one claim the ball and the City of Derry winger took full advantage of the bounce, too dot the ball under the posts, 24-12. However this would be the last time City of Derry would enter the Uni 22.

The Fantastic defensive work of the forwards forcing turnovers combined with the magic hands and great running lines of the backs saw a bombardment of trys in the second half, as the fitter pack led strongly by Scott Stevenson helped open up space for McMenemy, Berge and Whitcroft all to score their second trys. And as the game opened up further sub Tails Hill, went over the white washed joined by Richard Murphy soon after. Final Score was 62-12, keeping the Uni’s record of being the most attacking backline in the league. It was also great to see that subs of Niall Diffin, Tony Colgan and Tails slotting into the game seamlessly.  Man of the match went to Andrew Munce whose work rate was second to none on the day. They hope to carry this team trough to the next game against Donegal away, with their ones are not playing it will be a tough encounter, but the belief is in the squad to bring home a win from Donegal next week 26/11/11.

UUC 2’s suffocated by Inishowen 1st XV

The Uni lads travelled northward to Inishowen R.F.C 1st XV who previously played Qualifying League Rugby until very recently, however undeterred the students were eager to find out how far they had come this year, as they were going up against such a strong team in the minor league.

It was a pleasant day in Donegal, the right conditions for running rugby and the first half did not disappoint, as both teams we’re willing to run the ball and it was 10mins and soft tackling that allowed the Inishowen team to score first down the wing. Try was converted 7-0.

UUC started to realise this was a tougher game than the previous week and stepped up the physicality in the tackle and started to force the odd turnover, however some speculative passing midfield by the forwards gave a turn over to Inishowen from which they scored on the opposite wing 10 mins later. Try converted 14-0.

A quick chat under the posts and the UUC lads dramatically upped the pace of the game working Inishowen hard from the kick off, and the continued pressure saw scrum half Tommy McGlaughlin force a penalty near the posts; it was kicked by out half Richard Murphy. 14-3

The receiving kick was fielded well by Daniel Morgan and a powerful drive by open side Stuart Whitcroft ably supported by Scott Stevenson saw the lads drive deep into the Inishowen 22, A lovely crash ball by Linsey McLaughlin and quick ruck ball saw the UUC full back head over the line 5 meters from touch. Try Converted by Murphy on the stroke of half time. 14-10 and the lads were confident they could take the game to Inishowen.

However Inishowen had other thoughts on how to play rugby in the second half, as the closed the game out by continually picking and driving in ugly but ultimately efficient rugby as the continued pressure from picking and driving led to a hands in the ruck penalty, and it was a kick top the corner, lineout maul and pick and go rugby saw Inishowen score to trys in 20mins one in each corner.

UUC 2’s never deterred from trying to play a better brand of rugby but it was hard for the chaps to get any continuity together with only 5mins of game time on the ball in the second half, but credit has to go to the uni as they never stopped defending as we seen 18 pick and goes from Inishowen and they hadn’t left their area just outside their own 22.

Final score was Inishowen 1stXV 24 UUC 2ndXV 10.
The guys have taken great pride from the game being a genuine Minor League team doing so well against a former qualifying team and look forward to the Inishowen lads travelling up to the Sam Logan Stadium in the New Year.

Man of the match was yet again a hard decision with so many guys making an impressive contribution to the team, but Stuart Whitcroft certainly had to take the honours as he battled hard at every ruck and maul.

Ballyclare push hard

In perfect conditions the visitors to the Logan Stadium were Ballyclare who last season put 10 trys past the students. The game started with the home team having the better of the early exchanges, with the lively Jamie Ball at scrum half pulling the strings, however things changed abruptly when the students tried to move a ball wide and a misdirected pass bounced into the Ballyclaire no 12’s hands, he out stripped the home defence to touch down under the posts, the conversion easily made gave the visitors a 7 point lead.

The students then suffered another blow when shortly after the restart a good cutting break saw rugby league convert, centre Andrew Winder carry the ball into contact were he fell awkwardly and damaged his ankle in the process, to his credit he choose to stay on the field, moving to the wing were he played basically on one leg for the remaining 70minutes and crucially, his presence would make a telling contribution to the game.

The students reorganised and went about trying to get a hold on the talented Ballyclaire team, a great step in the middle of the field from hooker Ryan Eecock who has made the number 2 shirt his own this season, supported by O’Neill and Wilkinson created quick possession, this was moved once more through the forwards hands with the back row ground hog John Dillon making the ball available, quick handling and direct running by the back line saw full back Lee Murphy give Winger Sam Hall a great pass and the big lad coming onto the pass flat out stripped the away defence to score in the corner. Out half Whitcroft slotted the difficult conversion to level affairs, it was game on.

A period followed were both teams struggled to retain primary possession, with in turn each team winning line outs and scrums against the head, but good defensive work lead to turnover of the ball and it was a moment of inspiration from skipper Dunlevey to make the ball available giving the Uni no 10, who always looks to keep the score board moving, tried a long range attempt at a drop goal, on target but just dropping under the crossbar. However the fullback managed to fumble the ball and gave a knock on, this gave the students prime field position. To their credit Ballyclaire survived the onslaught on their try line however eventually an offside infringement was conceded and Out half Whitcroft made no mistake with the penalty kick to give the home side the half time lead.

The restart saw Ballyclaire start the better and the student defence was well tested surprisingly and uncharacteristically indiscipline home defence gave several penalties away, but thankfully the visitors kicking boots were still in Ballyclaire and the scoreboard was not threatened. The students then played some good rugby with Millar, Dunlevey, McCullough and Henley dominating the line out and great defence from Rowden and Hill and Murphy who is securer than any European bank at fullback, saw the students get into penalty range and when the error came Whitcroft converted from 30m out to give the students a 13 – 7 lead.

One of the trade marks of the home team this season has been having the capacity to score at key times in games and in probably the key moment of this entertaining fixture, the students were given the put in to a scrum that the visitors may have felt should have been there’s, 10 yards out, surprising the Claire defence no8 went blind and fed scrumhalf Jamie Ball who gave the pass to Winder who considering his damaged leg stepped round the visitors winger and fullback to score a try. Whitcroft converted the conversion from the touch line, his 12th consecutive kick at goal, to open up a 20 – 7 lead.
Ballyclaire to there credit came back at the students and forced a try with a juggling act by the fullback after a good build up saw him have loose then have again control of the ball as he crossed the try line, to bring the visitors back within 6 points .However the students had the best of the final exchanges and almost crowned a dogged performance by scoring what would have been an outstanding try with every forward touching the ball inter passing through the Ballyclaire defence with unfortunately the final pass going to ground with the try line at their mercy. Final score UUC 20 – Ballyclaire 14