- Result: Galwegians Firsts 32 - Queens University 28
- Venue: Queens University RFC on Sat Feb 17th 2018
- Competition: AIL Division 2A
Galwegians have done it again. Their mid-season revival was taken a step further with an incredible result away to Queens on Saturday to make it three wins out of three. Turning around at half-time 21-3 down, the Blues produced a stunning second-half fightback to win an absorbing contest 32-28.
This was a game that had absolutely everything in terms of drama and excitement: four tries each, twists and turns, a yellow and unfortunately a red card deep in stoppage time. Wegians started off well but were unable to make their early dominance count. Instead it was their hosts who took the lead near the end of the first quarter against the run of play, when forward Alaistar Burke crashed over for the opening try. This was converted by Ritchie McMaster for a 7-0 lead.
Things got worse for the Blues minutes later when hooker John Molony was binned, and the students took full advantage to double their lead with a second converted try, this time another forward Gary Dillon crossing the whitewash. Wegians soon opened their account with a penalty from out-half Morgan Codyre. However instead of settling them down, it offered little respite as Queens soon scored try number three when Burke took a great line and made a clean break through the middle to dot down and bag his brace of tries. McMaster again added the extras, and it could have got even worse for the Blues, however they survived another close shave before the break to go in 21-3 behind.
It was vital for Wegians to score first in the second half, and after a stern half-time team talk from coach Beano McClearn, that was exactly what they did five minutes in when they scored their first try. It came after a number of phases of play by Wegians in the centre of the pitch, from which the ball was moved to substitute Rory Dempsey who showed a great turn of speed to score from the 10 metre line. Codyre converted to reduce the margin to 21-10.
This gave the Blues the shot in the arm they needed, and fortunately they were able to build on it as they soon scored their second try. It came from flanker Callum Torpey who drove over after sustained pressure on the Queens line. Codyre again converted and the gap was now down to just four points. The hosts steadied themselves however and they put themselves firmly back in the box seat on 55 minutes. It came following some great footwork from speedster Jonny Wesley who sliced through the cover to bag his side’s fourth and bonus try, which McMaster again converting to restore an 11-point gap.
However any thoughts that the students may have had about halting the visitors’ recovery were soon dispelled, in what was proving to be a quite amazing third quarter. Not to be outdone, Wegians showed great resilience to once again haul themselves back into contention. It came from a block down of a Queens clearance by John Molony, and the tenacious hooker followed up and touched down for Wegians’ third try. Codyre’s conversion from out wide dipped just under the cross bar, but crucially the margin was now down to six points making it a one-score game.
Just after the hour mark, Wegians completed a quite remarkable comeback when centre Brian Murphy burst through to score a fourth try. Codyre converted this time and incredibly the Blues were now in front for the first time in the game.
The shell-shocked hosts tried to get back into the game, but they were unable to regain their mojo against a rejuvenated Wegians. The Blues then were awarded a penalty as the game neared stoppage time, and Codyre kept his cool to split the posts and give his side a four-point cushion.
However the drama was far from over. With the game entering its dying moments, Murphy turned from hero to villain when he was red-carded for a late tackle near halfway. This prompted a late assault on the Wegians line by the students who had to go in search of a five-pointer. However it proved in vain for the hosts as some heroic last-ditch defence and a crucial intercept by Rory Dempsey saw Wegians defend their line and regain the ball for a final clearance to touch, before referee Shane Kierans blew for full-time.
Thus a third victory in the space of fourteen days has seen the Blues move from what appeared to be a near hopeless position of rock bottom in the League table to jump three places up to seventh. With four game rounds remaining, there is still a long way to go. But Wegians have real momentum now at a crucial stage of the season.
Next up for the Blues is a serious test of their resurgence when they host runaway leaders Malone at Crowley Park on Saturday March 3rd (2.30pm).