- Result: Galwegians Firsts 24 - Ballynahinch 30
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Nov 5th 2016
- Competition: AIL Division 1B
It was a case of déjà vu for Galwegians in UBL Division 1b when for the second consecutive Saturday they suffered another intensely frustrating defeat and left a potential bonus point win behind them.
The parallels to last week at Old Wesley are quite remarkable. Some mesmerising early scores led by a talented backline which created a 14-point first-half lead, before capitulating in the second-half and ending up not only scoring four tries, but also conceding four.
Playing with a first-half wind advantage, the Blues soon hit the front on nine minutes when a skip pass from out-half Mitch Lam fed Cormac Brennan. The full-back’s pace and footwork outwitted the visiting defence for an excellent unconverted try on the left.
Hinch soon opened their account with a penalty by Johnny McPhillips, however the Blues went on to dominate the first quarter. Shortly afterwards they scored a second try when Lam was again the provider, hooker John Moloney finishing impressively this time. Conor Lowndes converted for a 12-3 lead, and on 20 minutes some excellent forward play created another opportunity, with Brennan being sent clear again this time on the right to complete his brace.
17-3 to the good, Wegians were well in control at this point. However the game turned on two key moments. The first came in the 25th minute with the hosts again threatening to breach the Hinch defence and put themselves almost out of sight. However they coughed up a penalty on the visitors’ 22, and a quickly tapped penalty caught the Blues napping, with scrum-half Angus Lloyd racing up the blind side to score near the right-corner. This gave the Co. Down men renewed confidence and they went on to dominate the second quarter. Their patient attack-building was rewarded in the 39th minute when substitute Stewart Evans rounded off a period of intense pressure by dotting down under the posts. McPhillips added the extras to reduce the margin to 17-15 at the break.
The second key turning point came shortly after the restart. Having kicked a penalty to the corner, Wegians set up a rumbling forward maul which was ominously working its way to the line, only to lose control at the vital moment and concede possession. Hinch didn’t waste the opportunity to clear their lines, and they resumed their dominance soon afterwards. It was no surprise when prop Jonny Simpson finished off another period of sustained pressure near the posts for their third try on the hour mark. This put the visitors in front for the first time in the game, with the conversion from McPhillips making it 22-17.
Five minutes later and suddenly it was the visitors who looked out of sight when the Blues were incapable of thwarting another attack down the middle, and this time hooker Jonny Murphy cut through for their bonus fourth try. Although unconverted, another penalty soon after stretched their lead to 30-17. Wegians tried gallantly to regain a foothold in the game, and save for the odd foray including a devastating charge out of his 22 by no. 8 Jack Dinneen, they struggling to make any impression against the rejuvenated Hinch.
However Wegians can take heart from one last attack when they patiently went through the phases, before centre Rory Parata spotted a gap at the base of a ruck to wrong foot the visiting defence for a crucial bonus fourth try. Lowndes converted to reduce the deficit to 30-24 and gain what could prove to be a vital additional bonus point.
This result leaves the Galwegians coaching ticket of Brian McClearn and Mitch Lam with much to ponder. There are clearly a lot of positives to build on, but also some key areas of their game which urgently need to be addressed as they seek to get back to winning ways. Their next game is at home to another Ulster outfit, old rivals Ballymena at Crowley Park this Saturday Nov. 12th (2.30pm kick-0ff).
Cormac Brennan; Ed O'Keeffe, Rory Parata, Dave Clarke, Conor Lowndes; Mitch Lam, Barry Lee; Patrick Curran, John Moloney, Jason East, Matthew Towey, Marc Kelly, Ronan Moore, Josh Pim, Jack Dinneen.
Doron McHugh, Tadhg Campbell, Paul Hackett, Matthew Byrne, Aidan Moynihan.