City of Derry won this much anticipated AIL 2N clash with Belfast Harlequins in a high tempo game at Deramore Park on Sunday afternoon. The match featured three South African Ladies internationals with wing forward Mandisa Williams and scrum half Fundi Plaatjie on the City of Derry side and out half Zenay Jordaan playing for Belfast Harlequins.
The South African girls certainly made their presence felt with Williams scoring three tries and Plaatjie scoring one to add to a try from Di Nixon. Belfast Harlequins replied with tries from Leslieann Stirling and Rebecca Francis leaving the final score Belfast Harlequins 12 City of Derry 27.
The first half was a close affair with both sides really up for the battle ahead. City of Derry broke the deadlock when, after a series of scrums close to the Quins line, Mandisa Williams drove over the line to touch down. The conversion was missed leaving the score 0 – 5.
Quins pushed hard to get a score of their own and after some nice midfield work from Jordaan and Nikki Caughey the ball was worked to Leslieann Stirling in space on the left wing. Stirling still had plenty of work to do but her strong running saw her force her way over for a well taken try. Caughey kicked brilliantly from the left wing to land the conversion putting Quins ahead 7 – 5.
Derry hit back almost immediately with right wing Ciara McGurk making a strong run up field only to be held up by Ashleigh Baxter. The ball was fed to Plaatjie in support and the South African scrum half had enough gas to evade the diving Baxter and power her way over in the corner. The try went unconverted taking the score to 7 – 10. With no further score in the first half both sides turned round with plenty to play for.
The visitors upped their game in the second half and the big Derry pack , led by the experienced Di Nixon, began to get on top. Before long the impressive Williams had went over in the corner for here second try and when Nixon added one of her own, shortly after, the game looked over for Quins. With the game breaking up Williams found space on the right and sprinted clear to touch down under the posts and the conversion by Rachel Lennox took the score to 7 – 27 going into the final quarter.
Despite being out gunned up front Quins, to their credit, never gave up and Baxter, Caughey and Jordaan began to make some ground in broken play. The home side eventually got the break they disserved when a loose kick made its way to speedster Rebecca Francis who outpaced McGurk to score in the corner.
The try went unconverted leaving the final score Belfast Harlequins 12 City of Derry 27.
Credit to both sides for producing a highly entertaining game of rugby.
Belfast Harlequins: Sorcha Chipperfield, Jen Goodall, Amy Greenlee, Alanagh Chipperfield, Kara Swales, Frankie Durieux, Annmarie Nolan, Eileen McElroy, Jenna Stewart, Zenay Jordaan, Michelle Burns, Laura Ferguson, Nikki Caughey, Lesleyann Stirling, Ashleigh Baxter, Alannah Fowley, Peita McAllister, Rachel Morton, Rebecca Francis, Jenny Waide, Lauren Moore, Christine Alexander.
City of Derry: Naomi Seaman, Jenna Lynch, Kylie Boyle, Katie Corents, Glenda Mellon, Julie Simpson, Mandisa Williams, Diane Nixon, Fundi Plaatjie, Susie Tinney, Andrea Shepherd, Kelly Holmes, Bridin McDermott, Ciara McGurk, Naomi Lander, Alice Wylie, Rachel Lennox, Marina Cassidy, Natasha Milligan.