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Limavady come out on top in the cold and mud

By Ronnie Ingram

Limavady GS 15 Foyle & Londonderry 6: Limavady Grammar needed their bigger and stronger pack to overcome a young Foyle side in freezing and by the end, nearly unplayable conditions.

Luckily the game started earlier than previously announced as the tie would probably have had to be abandoned.

As it was a number of players suffered from mild hyperthermia as they faced the driven sleet in the second half.

The tie started in reasonable weather conditions but full credit to both sets of players and to referee Gareth Dunlop who made sure that it was concluded.

Limavady had already beaten Foyle this season but it was Alex McDonnell, the Foyle out-half, who controlled play at the start, pinning the home side inside their '22'.

And after eight minutes a player ventured off-side and McDonnell obliged to put his team ahead from 20 metres out.

The weather began to worsen and Limavady kept possession for long periods with Jamie Millar and Michael Barr punching holes in the centre.

It was only a matter of time until they scored and after 20 minutes Millar cut through for Scott McLean to convert.

Foyle then exerted some pressure and McDonnell added a second penalty.

Nearly all the play in the second period was in Foyle territory.

The overhead conditions were worsening by the minute and with the sleet the ball was very difficult to hold on to.

Limavady increased their lead with another McLean penalty and he just missed with another shortly afterwards.

From then on it was futile to attempt any goal kicking due to the mud but after 20 minutes the hosts crossed for their second try. From a position close to the Foyle line the Limavady forwards managed to force their opponents back and Brendan Ferguson got the touch down.

"It was a satisfying victory," said Limavady coach Stephen Barr, "and our reward is having to travel to Methody in the next round."

After the game both sets of coaching staff were forced to work hard as a number of boys were suffering from the extreme cold and wet conditions.

"It was very very difficult for anybody to play rugby," said Foyle coach David Barnett.

"In consequence there were a lot of errors but, overall, Limavady had the control for most of the time.

"They had a bigger, stronger pack and the rain and mud was to their advantage.

"We gave our heart and soul and stood up well to the onslaught.

"The side gave a good account of themselves and although some thought we would be convincingly defeated the difference at the end was only nine points.

"When it was 10-6 there was only a score in it so we were still in with a chance but when they scored their final try to make it 15-6 it was virtually impossible to come back in that weather," added Barnett."

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