- Result: Galwegians Firsts 16 - Lansdowne 17
- Venue: Lansdowne Road on Sat Dec 16th 2006
- Competition: AIL Division 1
An 86th minute penalty from Lansdowne full-back Robbie Dolan denied Galwegians a morale-boosting victory in the last-ever All-Ireland League Division 1 fixture on the main pitch at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.
This really was a game that got away for Wegians who were superior to their hosts for long periods of the game. But once again the points went abegging, meaning Wegians go into the Christmas break in 12th place, and they are beginning to lose touch with the play-off contenders.
Wegians began this game with intent, and got the perfect start with a 3rd minute penalty from out-half Peter Durcan. They then proceeded to utterly dominate their opponents for the opening half-hour, but crucially they failed to make it pay on the scoreboard. The forwards were on top, and the backline were looking menacing, with scrum-half Luke Stringer & centres Nick Wakely & Anthony Barrett each making dangerous breaks which should have led to tries, with flanker Aaron McGettigan seemingly over the line on on occasion only to see the ball wrestled from his grasp. For their part the home side soaked up all this pressure, and then levelled with a penalty from Robbie Dolan on 28 minutes after a rare incursion into Galwegians’ territory.
Then the whole complexion of this game turned on one incident in the 33rd minute. Having kicked a penalty to the corner, Wegians set up a rolling maul, following which prop Ross Davies appeared to clearly ground the ball over the line for the opening try. However the poorly positioned referee Leo Colgan was unsighted and instead awarded a 5 metre scrum. Then in the ensuing entanglement, Davies head-butted Lansdowne flanker Niall Ronan under the nose of the referee, which led to a straight red card. So a combination of misfortune and a moment of individual madness were effectively to cost Wegians the match.
Lansdowne went into the lead for the first time through a second Dolan penalty just before the break, although Wegians did come close to responding with a Wakely drop-goal attempt and a Durcan penalty narrowly off target. However Durcan did find his range with a well-struck effort on 45 minutes to level it at 6-6.
With the extra man up front, the hosts then began to turn the screw, and on 55 minutes a 25-metre rolling maul set up the platform, and a skipped pass sent Lansdowne centre Clem Casey over for the opening try in the left-hand corner for an 11-6 lead, with Dolan narrowly off target with the conversion. However five minutes later the Blues were back in front. When intelligent play from full-back Kieran Hickman brought play into the opponents’ 22, centre Anthony Barrett charged down a kick from Lansdowne out-half Mana Ashford, and he raced home from 20 metres out to score an equalising try. A perfectly struck conversion from Durcan put the visitors in front again by 13-11.
It seemed as if the Blues would hang on for a hard-fought victory as their stubborn defence was frustrating their opponents. But in the 75th minute they were penalised for hands in the ruck, and Dolan struck a fine penalty from the right to nudge his side in front by 14-13. Yet the visitors still thought they snatched victory, when moments later Wakely landed an excellent penalty from 30 metres on the left to restore a 2-point advantage. And just when it seemed that 14-man Wegians would hold out, Wakely was penalised for a high tackle in the 85th minute, and Dolan landed the winning kick to break Wegians hearts and deprive them of the four points.
Next up for Wegians after the Christmas break is a home tie in the AIL against Dolphin on Saturday January 6.