We caught up with the opening round of the Women’s Premiership on Sunday afternoon at City of Derry Rugby Club where the Derry Women’s side entertained their counterparts at Belfast Harlequins.
I’ve a fond memory of some classic games between these two clubs in their heyday in AIL 2N and in extended Senior Cup runs and I must say the intensity and the commitment form both these sides, in an entertaining first half, was up there with the best of those encounters.
Derry had to work hard for their first score, after a series of attacks down the left were rebuffed by the Quins defence. The home team brought the ball in field with Ciara Moore making the break to send Kelly Cregan over for the opening score.
Quins responded with some strong runs from their pack, aided and abetted by centre Khloe Miller, but the home team’s defence held firm and they were able to break clear twice in the first half for Amelia McFarland and Aoife Curran to cross to take the score to 15 – 0 when the teams changed ends, a couple of lapses of concentration by Quins costing them 10 points.
After a fairly even first half, in terms of territory and possession, Derry began to get on top more in the second half, though Quins did still have their moments.
Derry’s scrum half Maeve O’Neill sniped over from close range for their bonus point try shortly after the restart and with Moore adding the conversion the score clicked on to 22 – 0. Moore put the result beyond doubt less than 10 minutes later with a try of her own and the pace went out of the game.
To their credit Quins did rouse themselves in search of a score, which would have more accurately reflected the balance of the game but the experienced Derry side refused to have their line breached and they sent the hard working Cheryl Laverty over for a late score to wrap up the game 32 – 0 at the final whistle.
It was a great effort from both sides in a thoroughly enjoyable game and, as I said at the time, Quins will play worse and win games this season. Plenty of positives for both teams.
Fittingly we’ve a huge gallery for this one, thanks to Dessie Loughery covering the opposite end of the pitch from me.