- Result: Galwegians Firsts 10 - Bruff 5
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Jan 28th 2012
- Competition: AIL Division 1B
Galwegians got back to winning ways when they won a vital clash against visitors Bruff at a rain-sodden Crowley Park on Saturday.
Having lost their first two League games this year in disappointing fashion against UL Bohs and Buccaneers, Colm Rigney’s charges desperately needed a win to restore confidence and self-belief. They came into this game third from bottom with Bruff two points adrift in second last place, so it was the proverbial eight-pointer with much at stake. And in a game between two sides who rely heavily on their forward power, and given the awful conditions, this was always likely to be a slugfest in the mud. And so it proved, with a bizarre final result with no points came from the boot from either side.
The Co. Limerick men are not used to conceding advantage up front, but Wegians set out their stall early on and were clearly dominating in the scrum. Out-half Tadhg Leader missed two kickable penalties in the first quarter, but the pressure was telling on the visitors and flanker Alan Bourke was sin-binned as early as the 21st minute by referee Eanna O’Dowd. The Blues eventually made their dominance pay on 25 minutes when a well-worked lineout maul saw flanker Ivan Muldoon continue his rich vein of scoring form when he grounded the ball for his fifth try of the season.
Leader was again wide of target with the conversion attempt, and at 5-0 the Blues would have felt this was poor reward for their dominance. Indeed this was how it remained at half-time, although there were ominous signs that Bruff were starting to find their rhythm and gain a foothold as the half drew to a close.
The visitors started the second-half where they left off, putting serious pressure on the Wegians defence. And having spurned some earlier opportunities, it was no surprise when they drew level on 50 minutes, with no. 8 Paddy Clery getting on the end of another forward drive to claim the touchdown out wide. The difficult conversion attempt was missed, so the match was now very finely balanced at 5-5.
Credit to Wegians who responded well to this setback, and they managed to regain the initiative by knuckling down to the task at hand. The winning score came in the 68th minute, and it was young Leader who atoned for his earlier missed kicks when he burst down the wing, leaving the defensive cover in his tracks to score an excellent try. Having injured his ankle in the act of scoring, captain John Cleary took over the kicking duties but he too failed to land the conversion midway between the touchline and posts.
However the ebb and flow nature of this contest meant that Bruff would inevitably mount a comeback, and at 10-5 down they still had it all to play for. They set up camp deep in Wegians territory for the final ten minutes, but some more excellent and disciplined Wegians defence held them at bay. As the game entered injury-time, flanker TJ Anderson was binned for Wegians for the second game running, this time for a high tackle. But try as they might, despite having the extra man, the visitors could find no way through the heroic home defence. They almost stole it in the last play of the game when driving over near the posts, but were held up by a forest of Blue jerseys, and referee O’Dowd’s final whistle signalled much joy and relief for the home team.
This was a crucial and deserved win for the Blues, as it brings them five points clear of Bruff who remain second from bottom in the table. Next up for Wegians is a tricky away assignment to in-form Belfast Harlequins this Saturday Feb. 4th. However with this vital win under their belts, the Blues are well capable of going on another winning streak to climb into a mid-table position.