- Result: Galwegians Firsts 13 - Terenure 25
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Mar 3rd 2007
- Competition: AIL Division 1
Galwegians’ season appears to have imploded as they suffered a fourth straight loss, and their second consecutive one at home, this time surrendering the points to a more clinical Terenure College at Crowley Park on Saturday. It was yet another case of a game that was there for the taking, but with a depressingly familiar outcome for the Blues, and in truth the tally of four tries to one for the visitors tells its own story.
Despite playing into a slight diagonal breeze, the visitors started the brighter, buoyed by a recent run of four straight League wins. And they opened the scoring with their first try on 9 minutes when a 30 metre rolling maul was finished off in the left corner by their impressive no. 8 and captain Alex Dunlop. However Wegians had a chance to get right back into the game when the restart was knocked on by ‘Nure near their own line. But ominously the Blues pack failed to take their try-scoring opportunity, although the pressure did yield a penalty which Nick Wakley converted to reduce arrears to 5-3.
The visitors upped the ante again, especially when Wegians’ interpro flanker Matt Lacey was sin-binned on 20 minutes. Although winger Rob McCarthy missed a very kickable penalty, they soon capitalised on an error by Blues full-back Kieran Hickman who kicked the ball dead from inside his 10 metre line. And from the resulting scrum, ‘Nure lock forward Kevin O’Dwyer made a searing break through a porous looking Blues defence. And though held up short of the line, quick ball sent right-winger Adam Hughes over on the right for a second unconverted try.
Wegians were looking out of sorts, but they hung in and some good line-kicking by out-half Paddy O’Toole and centre Nick Wakley set up some good field position. And just before the break Wakley added a second penalty when some good pressure saw the visitors drift offside. Indeed the Blues missed a glorious chance to take a half-time lead when an excellent rolling maul led to the sin-binning of Nure prop Stephen Nolan. And although Andrew Browne took clean line-out ball, again the Blues failed to cross the line, as crucially the 7-man visitor pack held out.
Despite being a man down, Terenure went on the offensive after the restart. And following an excellent line-kick to the corner by out-half Shane Cullen, Wegians’ hooker Joey Merrigan got his line-out throw horribly wrong, resulting in a knock-on by Liam Casserly. And although the Wegians defence withstood a series of pick and drives, eventually they conceded a third try when no. 8 Dunlop broke from the base of a scrum and rounded a brittle defence to score his second touchdown near the left-corner. McCarthy eventually found his range to land the conversion and give his side a 17-6 lead.
However Wegians managed to get right back into the game when they won a scrum straight from the restart, following which centre Anthony Barrett broke through the middle and rounded full-back John Coffey to score under the posts. Wakley added the simple conversion to again reduce the margin to four points. <BR>Prior to their third try Nure lost their influential hooker and assistant coach James Blaney, and in his absence Wegians gained a clear upper hand in the scrum, and the game was very delicately poised with half an hour remaining. But the home side failed to take advantage of a brief period of domination, coughing up possession due to a number of unforced errors, and also to the efforts of the Nure back-row who were more effective at the breakdown.
Having soaked up the pressure, Nure stretched their lead to seven points on 66 minutes when McCarthy landed a penalty 30 metres in front of the posts. But the Blues wasted another glorious chance to get back on terms on 70 minutes when more pressure led to two 5-metre scrums, and although shunting the opposition backwards each time, they once again failed to convert the clear scoring opportunity.
As the game entered stoppage time, the Blues then proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot. First an attacking maul was ended when Matt Lacey earned his second yellow (and therefore a red card) for use of the knee. Then the Wegians backline committed what can only be described as kamikaze defence to surrender a precious losing bonus point. With a minute remaining, full-back Hickman inexplicably threw a quick line-out straight into the hands of the opposition, and although Wegians managed to retrieve possession, the normally reliable winger John Cleary then threw a blind reverse pass which was gratefully accepted by Nure’s no. 10 Shane Cullen. And the out-half’s clever grubber was met by his right-winger Hughes who won the race for the touch-down, thus earning his side a bonus point and denying one to Wegians.
Wegians are now seven points clear of the relegation zone with three games remaining, and they seriously need to regain some focus and confidence when they host Dungannon in the last home league game on March 24th.