- Result: Galwegians Firsts 15 - UCD 33
- Venue: Belfield Bowl on Sat Feb 6th 2016
- Competition: AIL Division 1A
Galwegians suffered an agonising defeat away to high-flying League leaders UCD at a wind- and rain-swept Belfield Bowl on Saturday. It was very hard to stomach for the Blues who looked for long periods like they would come away with something. Although leading this game with less than ten minutes remaining, Wegians were stunned as the students ran riot late on to rack up twenty unanswered points, which put a very flattering appearance on the final score.
Playing with the aid of a first-half breeze, the game was evenly matched early on, although the students were showing early signs of their potency in their outstanding backline. Full-back Billy Dardis gave Collidge a lead on 10 minutes with a straightforward penalty following offside.
Wegians were defending stoutly with their line speed frustrating the free-running students. Out-half Aidan Moynihan missed a chance to level matters on 25 minutes when a 35m penalty effort sailed wide of the posts. However they opened their account with the first try of the game on the half-hour mark, when a skip pass from Shane O’Leary gave John Cleary the space, and the in-form record-scoring full-back finished with customary aplomb near the right-corner to put the Blues in front.
The try was unconverted, and almost straight from the restart O’Leary almost turned provider again when he threaded through a grubber for left-wing Ed O’Keeffe who almost beat his man to the corner. However moments later the former Young Munster winger did manage to get on the scoresheet, when a beautifully flighted pass from Moynihan sent him clear. Although he had a lot left to do, the Limerick native finished brilliantly to give his side a deserved 10-3 lead.
This stung the hosts into action and following a serious bout of pressure, Dardis tagged on another penalty to reduce arrears. Then in the final play of the first-half, the hosts landed a sucker punch when they ran the ball back straight from the kick-off, and their talented backline saw a left-flank move split the Wegians defence open. This resulted in Jamie Glynn crossing under the posts for his side’s first try, which Dardis converted to give his side a scarcely deserved 13-10 half-time lead.
Collidge came out of the traps at the start of the second-half looking to extend their lead with the wind now behind them, however some excellent defending from Wegians kept them at bay. Things got better for the Blues and they struck a blow to regain the lead on 52 minutes. Following an excellent kick ahead by scrum-half Barry Lee which yielded an attacking lineout, a clean take and forward rumble saw Marc Kelly claim his side’s third try. Although again unconverted, this put Wegians back in front 15-13.
The Blues then played some of their best rugby of the game. Despite facing the elements, they went on to dominate the next 20 minutes in both territory and possession and looked the likelier to score. However they failed to add to their tally as the League leaders dug deep to hold their line intact. Somewhat inevitably the hosts eventually worked their way back up the field, and they regained the lead when a 72nd minute penalty from Dardis put them a solitary point in front.
Wegians were still not done and went looking to regain the lead for what would have been a third time in this gripping contest. However the game was wrapped up when the students inflicted a double whammy on the Blues in the space of one minute. On 75 minutes, UCD winger Tom Fletcher capitalised on a turnover in the Wegians 22 to charge over near the right corner for his side's second try and a 21-15 scoreline. Then straight from the restart, Matt Brown's charges leaked another try as Brian Cawley gathered it unopposed, before linking with his second row partner Emmet MacMahon who sent replacement Charlie Cregan charging clear to score. Wegians still had their chances to salvage two losing bonus points, and when one final attacking lineout maul was foiled in injury time, the students rubbed salt deep into the wounds when centre Conall Doherty sealed the most unlikely bonus point win when he chased down his own kick through for the game's final seven-pointer.
To say this was cruel luck on Wegians would be an understatement. However such are the vagaries of sport, and the final scoreline can best be explained by a very talented team ruthlessly exploiting the few opportunities which came their way. However Wegians can take a lot of heart from their performance, as they face a daunting away trip on Saturday to face an in-form Young Munster at the earlier kick-off time of 1pm.
John Cleary; Alan McMahon, Brian Murphy, Shane O’Leary, Ed O’Keeffe; Aidan Moynihan, Barry Lee; Ja Naughton (capt.), Jack Dinneen, Jason East; Anthony Ryan, Dave Nolan; Matt Towey, Josh Pim, Marc Kelly.
Subs: Jason East, Paul O’Donnell, David O’Connor, Ronan Moore, Michael O’Hare, Cormac Brennan.