- Result: Galwegians Firsts 12 - Old Crescent 13
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Nov 10th 2018
- Competition: AIL Division 2A
For the second week in succession, Galwegians lost out narrowly to a close rival near the foot of the table in Division 2A. For long periods of this game they looked the better side and likely to come out on top, but instead they endured another frustrating loss and had to settle for a consolation solitary losing bonus point.
This was a tense game between two sides low on confidence and each carrying many squad injuries, and inevitably it showed as errors abounded. Crescent started brightly and looked threatening in the opening minutes, but they were unable to take advantage and finish off the opportunities created. Wegians soon got into the game, and with their dominant set-piece they soon set about establishing territory. They had the first chance to open the scoring at the end of the first quarter when the Crescent lock David O’Brien was binned for an off the ball tackle, but Wegians out-half Dave Clarke was off target with a penalty just outside the 22.
All the play was now in the opposition 22 as the Blues piled on the pressure. They finally made the deserved breakthrough when they opted for a scrum penalty on the 5m line. Following some resets, a powerful scrum shoved the Crescent pack backwards and no. 8 Matt Towey was credited with the touchdown near the right corner. Clarke was desperately unlucky to see his touchline conversion attempt rebound off the upright for the second time in consecutive games, and this would end up having a crucial bearing on the outcome.
With the penalties continuing to mount against the visitors, referee Richard Horgan then sent Crescent hooker Niall Hardiman to the bin nearing half-time. However the 14-man visitors struck a decisive blow when, against all the odds, they somehow managed to turn over a Wegians scrum deep in their 22. When the Blues defence were then penalised for offsite, Crescent out-half Ronan McKenna tapped over the simple penalty to put his side on the board, leaving it 5-3 at the break.
This was a poor return for the Blues and the Crescent and ex-Wegians coach Matt Brown was clearly the happier of the two coaches at this stage. Boosted by their late revival, his side kicked on and they dominated proceedings early doors in the second half. The Blues were holding their line without ever looking in serious danger, but one could sense it was a matter of time before the Limerickmen would make it count.
The game was effectively decided on the hour mark when the visitors scored twice in quick succession. When Wegians hooker John Moloney was binned, McKenna struck a perfect penalty from the right to put his side in front for the first time. It got better when they scored a try almost straight from the restart. It followed some good hands and direct attacking play which punished some weak defence, and scrum-half Gary Fitzgerald was sent clear with an inside pass to dive over under the posts. McKenna added the extras, and suddenly the visitors were eight points clear of a 14-man Wegians.
It was hard to see a way back for the young Blues side at this stage, however they deserve credit for sticking to their guns and working their way back into it. With just under 10 minutes to go, a lightning break from his own half by winger Hugh Lane almost put his opposite wing Sean O’Sullivan over, only to be bundled into touch near the corner. However the damage was done and when the Blues snaffled the opposition lineout, centre Brian Murphy took a trademark crash ball near the line to dive over. Sub scrum-half Mohi Parata added the conversion, and with the gap now back to one point, it was suddenly game on.
Wegians were given a late lifeline when Hardiman got his second yellow of the day near the end, but Crescent were managing to keep their hosts pinned largely inside their own half. The Blues tried to force it towards the end, but some knock-ons proved costly as they were unable to retain possession, allowing Crescent to run down the clock and secure victory by the narrowest of margins.
It was tough on this young Wegians side who just cannot seem to buy a win at the moment, and as a result of this reverse they lose further ground to their nearest rivals at the bottom of the table.
Wegians now have a 3-week break where they will try recharge their batteries, but it doesn’t get any easier as their next fixture is a trip away to new leaders and high-flying Highfield.