- Result: Galwegians Firsts 27 - Dungannon 29
- Venue: Stevenson Park on Sat Feb 18th 2006
- Competition: AIL Division 1
Galwegians lost out narrowly in an 8-try thriller away to Dungannon on Saturday. And while they were unlucky not to come away with a first-ever AIL victory in Stevenson Park, they had a major compensation package in the shape of two bonus points to nudge them ever closer to the top-flight safety zone.
This was a genuine see-saw contest which saw the lead change hands no less than six times, and no one could have argued had Wegians’ full-back Brendon Bartley’s last-gasp conversion attempt gone over to level the game. However his difficult effort drifted marginally wide of the posts.
Stevenson Park has never been a happy hunting ground for Galwegians, but the Blues took an early lead when a clever chip by scrum-half Tom Ellard set up an attack which was finished off by the emerging Under-20 centre Brian Murphy who scored near the posts, with Bartley adding the conversion. However Dungannon soon served notice of their own intentions, and they responded with an unconverted try from lock forward Ryan Caldwell. The home side then took the lead for the first time with their second try, which was scored by full-back Robin Morrow, which was converted by their promising out-half Gareth Steenson for a 12-7 lead.
However Wegians regained the lead when hooker John Burke finished off a line-out maul, Bartley’s conversion making it 14-12. However the lead again changed hands when Dungannon scored a third try before the break, this time through their other lock Michael Rainey, with Steenson adding the points for a 19-14 half-time lead.
In the second-half it was Wegians’ turn to regain the upper hand, courtesy mostly of their forward dominance. A Brendon Bartley penalty was added to when an offload from lock forward Liam Scahill inside his own half set off John Burke on a 30 metre break, and from the ensuing phase, Ireland A centre John Hearty was on hand to take a scoring pass from converted winger Ivan Muldoon for an excellent try.
Steenson then drew the sides level again with his first penalty of the day, and with the game entering stoppage time a draw seemed a fair and likely outcome. However there was more late drama to follow, and when Wegians were pressing in search of victory, a costly turnover inside the Dungannon 22 saw the ball fed to ex-Irish international Tyrone Howe who galloped 70 metres to touch down under the posts for the killer score, with Steenson adding the simple convert for a 29-22 lead.
But credit the resilience of Wegians who refused to lie down, and in the last minute of added time they set up another attacking lineout, and once again hooker Burke arrived in the nick of time to claim and ground the ball for a vital fourth bonus point try. It would have been just reward had Bartley’s conversion sailed over the crossbar, but it wasn’t to be. However with other results going their way over the weekend, the two bonus points gained meant that Wegians jumped one place in the table, and more crucially they have moved 11 points clear of the relegation zone.