- Result: Galwegians Firsts 26 - Blackrock 22
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Sep 30th 2017
- Competition: AIL Division 2A
Galwegians claimed their first home win in the Ulster Bank League Division 2A in dramatic fashion, when a 91st minute try from Brian Murphy saw them snatch victory back from the jaws of defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.
Played in glorious sunny autumn conditions, the visitors started brightly, moving the ball around at every opportunity. However they found themselves struggling badly in the set-piece, where Wegians were awarded two early penalties. Out-half Morgan Codyre narrowly missed his first effort, but he split the posts on 13 minutes to give the Blues an early lead. They soon extended that with a try five minutes later, when lock Marty Cummins claimed a lineout 10 metres out and finished off a driving maul himself to score his second try of the campaign.
Codyre was again narrowly off target with the conversion, and some sloppy play from the Blues after the restart saw them hand their opponents their first score, when out-half Peter Quirke slotted an easy penalty to get his side off the mark. However Rock’s struggles in the scrum continued where the Wegians front-row were giving their opponents a torrid time. Despite changing their tight-head prop, two further penalties led to a sin-binning for their replacement prop Dylan Hanney. Yet despite their numerical advantage, the hosts were struggling to make it pay, and could only muster a second Codyre penalty to restore an 8-point lead at the break.
The visitors had a slight wind at their backs at the start of the second-half, however Wegians struck a killer blow when they scored within a minute of the restart. Veteran centre Brian Murphy charged down a clearance kick, and having punctured the rearguard, some swift handling saw the Shrule native finish off the move in the left corner for a second unconverted try. The Blues looked comfortable in the third quarter, with their dominance in the scrum continuing. One monster 20m scrum shove set up another attack, and although centre Dave Clarke was held up just short, they were awarded a penalty which Codyre tagged on to give his side a 19-3 buffer by the 55th minute.
As the game entered the final quarter, the Blues looked comfortably poised to go on and seal a bonus victory. However, the game suddenly turned on its head within five minutes just past the hour mark. Firstly Rock centre Stephen Lawton intercepted a loose pass on halfway and raced home to touch down under the posts, with Quirke converting to reduce the margin to 19-10. This galvanised the hosts who attacked right from the restart, and minutes later substitute lock Eoin Fanning barged over near the left corner for his side’s second try. Quirke missed the difficult conversion, but it was suddenly very much game on at 19-15.
The final minutes were very nervy for the hosts who, having dominate the majority of the contest, suddenly found themselves on the ropes. It looked like they would hold out until the 80th minute, when Rock winger Mark Prendergast made a dazzling break to cut a swathe through the home defence from the halfway line for an excellent individual try. Quirke’s conversion put them three points to the good, and seemingly on their way to victory.
However there was to be one final twist. Referee Oisin Quinn played a lengthy period of stoppage time, and credit to the young Wegians side who kept searching for the winning score. Their chance came deep into added time when Codyre kicked an excellent penalty to the corner. Then following another penalty which they opted to scrum, the Blues spread the ball wide and Murphy took a perfectly timed run to crash under the posts for the winning score. Codyre’s conversion was the final act of the game, denying Rock any chance of a late reprieve.
Thus Wegians rescued themselves from what would have been a disastrous defeat, as they should never have allowed themselves get into such a situation. However credit is due to their winless visitors will take heart from a gutsy performance as they seek to kickstart their campaign after claiming a deserved bonus point.