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.

 

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.

uuc come back against omagh

The fixture changed from Omagh due to an unplayable pitch, saw both teams serve up a highly entertaining game which had everything for the large crowd at the Sam Logan stadium.
Playing into the elements the students had the best of the early exchanges and after 10 minutes out half Whitcroft converted a Penalty from 40m out to give the home team the lead, despite some further good work especially out wide by Hall and Johnston the students could not trouble the score board.
Omagh then took control of the game, playing excellent rugby first in the tight and then on the flanks, forcing firstly penalties to be given away and then scoring two excellent trys. to take an 18 – 3 lead. With half time approaching the students had to dig deep to regain the initiative, and a great break out by full Back Lee Murphy who fed center Matt Hill, he then released John Henry, who made a run deep into the Omagh 22, quick recycling of the ball saw the second rows of Henly and Leonard make good pick and drives, forcing Omagh to concede a penalty which the Uni number 10 converted to make the score 18-6. Just before half time the university forced there way deep into the Omagh 22 but good defence forced big George Hall into touch and the referee blew for half time.

The elements now on there back and attacking Starke Park end, the students inspired by talisman Marty O’Neill went about dismantling the Omagh team in all aspects for a remarkable 30 minutes, Scrumhalf Winder sniped down the blind side, feeding no 8 Mike Dunlevey and the big man stormed into the Omagh defence, several pick and drives led by Ryan Eecock the live wire hooker, saw Omagh concede a penalty in front of the posts, Whitcroft slotted over to bring his tally to nine points.
Straight from the kick off Marty O’Neill made a fifty yard run beating off tackle after tackle, throwing in a few side steps for good measure before being hauled down just short of the Omagh try line, a great clear out by the supporting back row of Ollie Millar, Dunlevey and John Dillon saw the powerful Jamie Wilkinson pick and drive over the line to score a vital try, Whitcroft kicked the difficult conversion, the score now 18-16 to Omagh.
Relentlessly the students hunted any Omagh player in possession, and Whitcroft expertly spiralled to all corners of the Omagh half in a master class of the out of hand kicking art. Pressure told again and the visitors offered up another penalty which the Uni number 10 slotted over to see the students take a 19-18 lead.
5 minutes later a good passage of play which stretched the visitors from wing to wing then some forceful drives from the pack saw excellent field position rewarded by a Whitcroft drop goal to stretch the students lead, not finished yet further pressure from the hard working Wilkinson saw Miller who covered every blade of grass on the pitch, take and give with scrumhalf Winder, who when tackled saw two Omagh forwards go off there feet and concede another penalty. Alan Whitcroft converted from the difficult angle to bring his match tally to 20 points.
To their credit Omagh never gave up and tried to create something in the final minutes but they could not penetrate the home defence again. A great final counter saw Hall open his legs showing his class, to almost score in the corner but Omagh scrambled well in defence and denied him a reward for his hard afternoons work. The referee blew up shortly after to end a highly entertaining game, the final score 25-18 to the home team.

UUC v Carrick Junior cup

UUC v Carrick Junior cup 1/10/2011

The students travelled to Carrick with the highly impressive new facilities at Woodlawn. The weather conditions were atrocious, and the heavy rain had left the playing surface tricky at best. The University team much changed from the previous Saturday with five freshers making their university débuts. The reward for modifying their game plan at Thursdays training  and their pre match preparation’s paid dividends early on after some great recycling out half Andrew Winder brought centre Jonathan Henry onto a pass and the big Ballyclaire lad on his debut  made a superb break through the Carrick centre partnership, in hindsight an early off load to Winder who’s support run deserved the pass would have seen the university surly score wide right, instead the Carrick defence scrambled but with the students camped on the Carrick line they conceded a penalty which scrumhalf Lee Murphy, who kicked imperiously all afternoon, converted the penalty.

The restart superbly fielded by second row Darren Leonard set the university working tight then open patterns to create a good space on the blind side two good passes saw skipper Mike Dunlevey beat two defenders and sprinted 20yards to score in the corner, Murphy made the difficult conversion into the swirling wind to give the students a ten point lead.  Carrick came back at the students hard but found no way through the D wall with the front row of Wilkinson, Eecock and O’Neill knocking men back time and time again and back row Ollie Millar and Danny Morgan winning every loose ball on the ground led Carrick to kick hard won possession away to easily, which Hall and Rowden dealt with cleanly. The rest of the first half saw the students who now had their line out with Coaches, Millar and Dunlevey doing well and scrum functioning solidly to secure primary possession. in the home teams half and pressure  told on two more occasions which Lee Murphy bisected the posts    with for the students to reach half time leading 19 – 0 the key to their performance to this point was the fact that no unforced errors occurred and only one penalty was conceded

During the break backrow Dan Morgan who had done little wrong was replaced by Kyle Hetherington who joined the 1stxv for the first time having missed much of the pre-season with an ankle injury, he quickly made up for lost time by imposing his presence on the blind side of the scrum.

 

The students playing down the slope and the elements in their favour saw play maker Andrew Winder  opened the game up and bring Whitcroft and Henrys impressive handling skills to the fore giving the back three an opportunity to get ball in hand with the right winger surfing into the corner to score a deserved try ,the conversion was missed. To their credit Carrick came back at the students and forced a penalty, however the attempt drifted wide of the uprights, frustrating for the home team the University went down to their opponent’s half and a great turn over by pack leader Wilkinson drew the defence off side and Murphy slotted from 40m out. Disappointingly the home team lost their discipline somewhat and the game became very niggle based and one scuffle saw Leonard spend ten minutes in the bin surprisingly the Carrick centre did not join him for a similar indiscretion. Injury to the student’s scrumhalf saw Campbell’s 2nd sub Scott Randy take the field and his fresh legs made a positive contribution. The students came close on several occasions to score another try but Carrick’s line held to the final whistle. Result UUC 24-Carrick 0

The Students with a refreshingly honest approach to the game will want to learn from several aspects of this tough encounter, especially the importance of not letting the opposition distract them from the job in hand and that only hard work on the training ground will improve their performance

UUC 2’s Too Strong for Ballymoney

The individual performances coupled with a titanic backline effort dragged Uni over the finish line as victors against a much bigger and more physical Ballymoney team.

As soon as the game started our error became clear. What Uni lacked in size they more than made up for with speed and sheer ferocity in contact. With a rampant back row led by the outstanding Number 8 Aaron Doherty, and Number 7 Joe ‘Zeus’ McKinnley barely missed a tackle all game. Uni’s pack ran Ballymoney off their feet in the first half, suffocating them and linking brilliantly with the backs.

And what a back division! Feeding off the sheer number of offloads from their pack, the Uni back line, led by Tommy McLaughlin at fly half and the effervescent scrum half Mark Gillespie tore into Ballymoney. Within 10 minutes Uni were on the board, choosing to run a penalty from ten metres out and Tommy went in virtually under the posts. Ballymoney stepped up the pressure forcing themselves into the Uni 22, but struggled to deal with the physicality of Uni and lost the ball. Quick hands out the back line saw Jackson the full back scoring again under the posts. Towards the end of the half and after shrugging off a few injuries both Tommy and Jackson where on the score sheet again. Continued pressure from the Uni forwards resulted in a scrum just outside the 22, a quick hook and quicker feet from the number 8 left the Ballymoney backrow bemused as he sprinted past them to dot the ball down between the post. Half time Score 36-0

After the half-time talk, Ballymoney came out and began to play with more purpose. It paid dividends at first, the Ballymoney forwards scoring under the posts, and then some poor tackling from Uni saw them score again under the posts. Uni regrouped under the posts and came out fighting; the inexorable physicality of the Uni defence began to tell, soaking up everything that Ballymoney could throw at them, leading by example Jonny Dingley new to the club this year making tackle after tackle. The telling moment of the half came when Ballymoney’s forwards knocked the ball on and Tommy McLaughlin swept the ball up in full stride side stepping 3 defenders and running half the pitch to score just beside the posts. Uni continued the pressure as Jackson made a fine tackle on the Ballymoney centre and turned the ball over, and cleverly seeing the open space, chipped the ball over the oncoming Ballymoney rush defence and collecting it to score under the posts.

The last 10 minutes saw some end to end action, as Ryan Gilmore drew two defenders to unleash new comer Tony Colgan down the wing to score on his debut to rugby and for the Uni. A mistake by the Uni saw Ballymoney who, never looked like quitting, continue there onslaught of forward play with great close quarter handling they fooled the uni lads as the big prop went over the white wash in the dying moments of the game. Final Score UUC 2’s 58-21 Ballymoney 5’s.
A well deserved man of the match award goes to Jonny Dingley for his outstanding defence and ball carrying skills. And a mention to Gareth Bell the injured captain for his organisational efforts with the 2ndXV squad that has helped introduce great depth to the club.

Next week UUC 2’s look forward to welcoming newcomers Tir Chonaill to the Sam Logan Stadium at Cromore Road.

CIYMS too strong for students

The University of Ulster, Coleraine welcomed CIYMS RFC to Cromore Road on Saturday looking to end the unbeaten run that CIYMS were currently on but it wasn’t to be with the visitors being made to work hard for their 37-17 bonus point win.

An early attack from the visitors led to them registering the first points of the game for an offside call at the ruck with a penalty to take a 3-0 lead.  After sustained pressure on the UUC defence CIYMS further stretched their lead with a well aimed drop kick into the prevailing wind to make it 6-0.  Once the students had settled into the game they started playing some tantalising rugby spreading the ball wide at every opportunity and pinning CIYMS into the corners with the help of the wind at their backs.

 

It was a well executed backline move off a lineout which led to CIYMS scoring the first try of the game in the corner but couldn’t be converted to leave the score at 11-0.  The students reacted positively and went in search of their own points and were awarded a penalty for indiscipline at the ruck and Lee Murphy coolly stepped up and sunk the penalty to reduce the score to 11-3.

 

With momentum swinging in favour of the students they looked to disrupt every CIYMS attack and after a great steal from Michael Dunleavy he fed Murphy who in turn released Sam Hall who ran half the pitch out sprinting the CI defence to score.  Murphy made no mistake with the conversion and was successful leaving the half time score 11-10 to the visitors.

 

The second half was set to be a scorcher with the score being as close as it was but it was CIYMS who again started the quicker of the two teams and were awarded a scrum 5 metres from the student line and after several resets were awarded a penalty try for disruption and the conversion was successful to make it 18-11.

 

The students responded well and worked their way into the CI half and but couldn’t find a way through the tight defence and were eventually turned over and CIYMS countered with a very dubious try being given right in the corner with UUC claiming the player had crossed the touchline before grounding the ball but the try stood and CI stretched their lead to 23-10.

 

With UUC looking to get something out of the game they got a penalty for indiscipline and kicked for the corner.  Great lineout play by the student pack led to John Lutton crashing over in the corner for UUC’s second try of the game.  Gareth Millar stepped up and slotted the touchline conversion over to make the score 23-17 to the visitors.

 

After the injury of John Dillon left UUC down to 14 men they worked even harder and great tackling by Hall and Hill on their respective wings prevented CI attacking out wide.  Great first up hits in the centre by Winder and Orr for the students left CIYMS no way to break the defensive line.  CI kept building phases and hitting their big forwards up the middle and eventually broke the UUC defence on the wings running two more tries in and converting both to leave the final score 37-17 and heading back to Belfast with a bonus point.

 

UUC travel to Ballyclare this Saturday looking to break their 2011 duck and win a game and start putting distance between themselves and the foot of the table.

Clash the of Campuses

The University of Ulster, Coleraine welcomed their fellow Students from Jordanstown to Cromore road on Wednesday in the annual colleges league rugby match.  It was the Coleraine side that took the bragging rights for this year with a deserved 19-17 win.

It was UUC who hit the ground running and were on the score sheets minutes into the opening half when a well worked maul from the UUC forwards pushed UUJ back onto their line and allowed Andrew Winder to force his way through the Jordanstown defence to score under the posts.  Lee Murphy converted to make the score 7-0.

Jordanstown looked dangerous and slowly made their way into the UUC half and were awarded for the efforts with a penalty, to reduce the score to 7-3.  UUC, not content with the score being so tight, went on the offensive once again and it Was Lee Murphy who found a gap on the narrow side to run his teams second try of the match.  Calum Rowden missed the difficult conversion to leave the score 12-3.

UUC were building momentum, and in a stroke of genius, UUC full back Scott Martin chipped through the Jordanstown defence to allow Calum Rowden to out pace his opposite number to touch down in the corner.  Martin then stepped up to slot the difficult conversion through and take the score to 19-3.

After the half time break UUJ started to play with a bit more fluidity and cracks in the UUC defence started to appear.  Jordanstown seen this as their chance to add to their score and did when they broke through the UUC defence and scored under the posts.  The conversion was scored and the score reduced to 19-10.

Jordanstown, looking to avoid defeat to their rivals continued to bombard the UUC defence and slowly made their way into the UUC half but the home side defended well and with only minutes left on the clock the visitors struck again when they caught the home side on the back foot to score again under the posts.  The conversion was successful reducing the score to 19-17.

The final minutes of the game were tense with Jordanstown being awarded a penalty on the UUC 10 metre line but the attempt was missed and UUC managed to hold on to record their first win over their Belfast rivals in three years with a 19-17 victory.

UUC Hope to build on this success in the Colleges Cup next Wednesday, when they welcome Athlone Institute of Technology to Cromore Road.