- Result: Galwegians Firsts 12 - Bruff 21
- Venue: Buff RFC on Sat Oct 8th 2011
- Competition: AIL Division 1B
Galwegians suffered their second successive defeat in the AIL Division 1b when they lost away to All-Ireland Cup holders Bruff on Saturday. And while the home side certainly deserved the points, Wegians will be kicking themselves for this was a game very much for the taking, yet they came home empty-handed.
Wegians made the brighter start, although the hosts had the first attempt on goal but their captain and out-half Tony Cahill was wide of the posts. It was the Blues who went in front on 15 minutes following a good blindside break by hooker Conor Muldoon which forced a penalty on the 22m line, and Tadgh Leader converted for a 3-0 lead.
Bruff responded well but they spurned several chances to put points on the board, kicking three successive penalties to the corner, only to be held up each time by a determined and resolute Galwegian defence. Then Cahill opted to kick for goal to try level matters on the half hour mark, but he was once again wide with another eminently kickable penalty.
Sensing the hosts were getting frustrated, Wegians went on the attack and a trademark weaving run by captain and full-back John Cleary dazzled the home defence and almost led to a try, only to knock on with the line at his mercy. But when the hosts were backpedalling from the resulting scrum, the pressure exerted by the powerful Galwegians pack led to a penalty in front of the posts which Leader converted to double the advantage to 6-0.
The Blues seemed well poised to kick on from here, but instead they will rue a lack of concentration which effectively cost them the game in the final five minutes of the first half. Straight from the restart an unforced handling error in midfield gave the initiative back to Bruff. And moments later they finally got their lineout maul working smoothly, with flanker John Shine touching down for the opening try in the left-hand corner.
Cahill hit the post with his difficult conversion attempt, but more sloppiness and ill-discipline saw Wegians cough up two further penalty opportunities before half-time, and the out-half finally found his range to put the hosts 11-6 to the good at the break.
Wegians again started much brighter in the second-half, and early territory and pressure saw Leader reduce arrears to 11-9. Then a fine break by winger Paddy Finn on the hour mark had the hosts on the retreat and forced a penalty for offside, And the young Leader, who was playing in the uncustomary position of inside centre, made it four from four to put the Blues 12-11 in front.
However a disturbing aspect of this contest for Wegians coach Colm Rigney was his side’s inability to defend a lead, and yet again they conceded within minutes of scoring, when home pressure led to a penalty close in, this time centre Brian Cahill taking over the kicking duties to put the hosts back in front 14-12. Then the key moment of the half came on 65 minutes when Ulster referee Stuart Gaffikin lost patience with the mounting penalty count against the Blues and lock Brian McClearn was sent to the bin.
This gave the hosts the impetus they needed, and they eventually wore down the seven-man Wegians pack. Following constant pressure, on 75 minutes flanker Shine burst over from a 5-metre scrum for his and Bruff’s second try, and Cahill’s crucial conversion put them nine points in front. In the last minute, the local hero Shine almost to villain when he himself was binned. But Wegians attempt to run from deep in their own half came unstuck, and the final whistle sounded to hand the four points to the home side, with Wegians left empty-handed for the second week running.
Next up for Wegians is a home fixture against one of last season’s newly promoted sides, Belfast Harlequins on Saturday October 15th (2.30pm), where a win is badly needed to kick start their Division 1b campaign.