- Result: Galwegians Firsts 28 - City of Derry 12
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Mar 1st 2014
- Competition: AIL Division 2A
Galwegians continued their inexorable march towards promotion to Division 1b with an eleventh straight League victory, including a seventh bonus point against one of their nearest challengers City of Derry at Crowley Park on Saturday.
The Blues started this game where they left off with their recent emphatic home win against Naas, and although playing into a slight breeze in the first-half, they immediately served notice of their intentions by taking the game to their opponents from the off. Full-back Darragh Leader was a late call-up to the side, and he had an early opportunity to put the Blues in front with a penalty from the 22 on the right, only to misjudge the wind and pull it wide. However it proved a blessing in disguise, as Wegians reclaimed the 22 drop-out and went on the offensive to bag the opening try of the game in the seventh minute. Swift handling gave Leader the space to attack, and he drew the cover before sending winger Colin Conroy over near the right-corner for an excellent score. This time Leader judged the wind to perfection to put the Blues 7-0 in front.
Despite the early setback Derry showed they were still up for the fight, and the erstwhile Division leaders responded well by putting the Blues under pressure. In the 16th minute they opted to kick a penalty to the corner, and clean line-out ball and a text book driving maul saw flanker Stephen Dickie ground the ball in the left-corner for a well-worked try. Out-half Neil Burns missed the difficult conversion, but at 7-5 it was very much game on.
While struggling in the scrums against the dominant Blues pack, the Derry forwards were contesting well in the loose and showing positive intent with ball in hand. However the next score was always going to prove crucial, and so it proved, where Wegians again displayed a cutting edge in the backline which just proved too much for the visitors to handle. It came from a lineout on their own 10m line, and quick ball fed the inrushing John Cleary who came in off his wing to slice through the midfield like a knife through butter, before offloading to centre Jerome Harrimate who dived under the posts for another excellent score.
Leader converted to give the Blues a nine-point cushion, and this seemed to knock the stuffing out of the visitors. The hosts went on to dominate the remainder of the first-half, and on the stroke of half-time they effectively sealed the game with their third try. It came from a well-worked 20 metre driving maul which the visiting pack were powerless to halt despite repeated attempts to pull it down, and with the line abegging referee Eanna O’Dowd finally lost patience and awarded a penalty try. Leader slotted the easy conversion for a comfortable if slightly flattering 21-5 half-time lead.
Derry started the second-half well but they met a solid wall of Galwegians defence who were in no mood to let them back into the contest. There was something inevitable about Wegians’ going on to get their bonus point fourth try, and it duly arrived on 50 minutes. It followed relentless pressure with the Wegians forwards pummelling the visitors’ line, and scrum-half Caolin Blade showed great opportunism to gather the ball and dive at the base of the post for his fifth try of the season, a remarkable record for a player who has only started in three games. Leader converted to make the game safe at 28-5.
The Ulstermen responded well to their credit and refused to give up the ghost, and their pressure led to Wegians’ flanker Eoin Rooney being sent to the bin as the game entered the final quarter. They finally took advantage on 65 minutes when second-row Stephen Corr finished off several phases by crossing under the posts with the home defence stretched, with out-half Neil Burns converting to reduce arrears to 28-12. However it was too little too late for Derry to try to salvage something from the game to maintain their own promotion push, and Wegians comfortably saw out the game in the ascendancy, if never really threatening to add to their scoring tally.
So yet another convincing win means Wegians are within a whisker of guaranteeing promotion with three games remaining, as they now hold a thirteen-point cushion over their nearest challengers NUIM Barnhall. Indeed the Kildaremen will provide the opposition for Wegians’ next game when they host the Blues at Parsonstown on March 15th, where a twelfth successive win would guarantee the Blues promotion and seal the Division 2a title for Cory Brown’s men.
15. Darragh Leader; 14. Colin Conroy, 13. Jerome Harrimate, 12. Brian Murphy, 11. John Cleary; 10. Ross Shaughnessy, 9. Caolin Blade; 1. Ja Naughton, 2. Conor Muldoon, 3. Jason East; 4.Dave Nolan, 5. Brian McClearn (capt.); 6. Eoin Rooney, 7. Eddie Earle, 8. Dan McCabe.
Subs: Ross Fitzgerald, Paul Griffin, Rory Parata, Barry Lee, Anthony Ryan.