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McMaster's form side Derry make it five wins in a row

By Ronnie Ingram

City of Derry are on a roll after their fifth successive AIL 2B victory, winning 37-25 at Dungannon where they gained their fourth bonus point.

This time last season they were wallowing at the bottom of their division but then the appointment of the experienced Terry McMaster after Christmas galvanised their talent and made them really believe in themselves.

"We also had a number of new recruits in August and they have really stepped up to the mark," said team manager Mike Poole.

"Full-back Alastair Beckett and winger Neal Brown from Omagh, Stephen Dickey from Coleraine and the Burns brothers from Malone have all made a tremendous difference. Our three-quarters are fluent as we play an entertaining open style of rugby."

On Saturday, Derry controlled most of the encounter as they moved the bigger Dungannon pack around the pitch.

This gave their fleet-footed backs plenty of opportunities to run the ball and the first three tries came from spreading the ball wide.

Beckett, Brown and the other winger Simon Logue touched down for Neil Burns to convert one and kick two penalties for a 23-6 interval advantage.

"We were rather naive in the second half and conceded too many penalties which Dungannon kicked into the corner," said Poole.

"They were dangerous from line-outs close to our line and managed three tries but by that stage we were well in front."

Prop Stephen Sinnamon, who came on as a home replacement, scored all three tries and Paul Armstrong converted two along with the two first half penalties. Derry led 37-18 after the hour with David Graham and centre David Funston bringing the total of tries to five and Burns goaled two.

"We now have a six point advantage in the table but we know Highfield, with only one loss, will be our biggest hurdle," said Poole.

"They have large forwards and play a tight game but we look forward to meeting them in three weeks, although the journey to Cork will be trying."

In 2A Malone built up a 26-6 advantage against Thomond but uncontested scrums nullified their forward dominance and the visitors came away with a bonus point 31-27.

Queen's lost at Naas 33-21 and Banbridge in the last few minutes at Skerries 32-30. In the other 2B fixture Armagh recorded a 29-5 success against Rainey.

Belfast Telegraph


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