- Result: Galwegians Firsts 13 - Belfast Harlequins 19
- Venue: Deramore Park on Sat Feb 4th 2012
- Competition: AIL Division 1B
A last-gasp converted Dave O’Hara try saw Galwegians salvage a valuable bonus point away to the in-form leaders of Ulster Bank Division 1b, Belfast Harlequins at Deramore Park on Saturday.
When these sides last met at Crowley Park in October, a dispirited Wegians side were routed 39-15 by their opponents who ran in six tries in the process. However Wegians have improved immeasurably since then and this was a much more competitive contest, with the hosts having to work very hard to secure their victory.
Played in bitterly wet and cold conditions, Quins opened the scoring with an early 3rd minute penalty from their scrum-half Ian Porter. However the Blues soon got into their stride, and they drew level on 15 minutes courtesy of a well-struck penalty by Connacht squad-member Matt Jarvis after Harlequins flanker Alistair Heatlie was sin-binned by referee Paul Haycock. Jarvis started at no. 10 with Tadhg Leader moving to inside-centre, and by the end of the first quarter the Welshman landed a second penalty to put the Blues 6-3 in front.
This spurred the hosts into action and they dominated most of the second quarter. Porter levelled the game with a 27th minute penalty, and they went in front again just before the break, when referee Haycock awarded a penalty try following a collapsed scrum near the Wegians line. This was the defining score of the game, and Porter’s simple conversion put the hosts 13-6 in front. Jarvis had a chance to reduce arrears with another penalty but he pushed this effort just wide, leaving a seven point margin between the sides at half-time.
Porter stretched the hosts’ advantage to ten points soon after the restart with his third successful penalty. The difficult underfoot conditions meant it was difficult for either side to create real scoring opportunities. Wegians worked hard to get back into the game and they did manage to establish some territory and possession, including one excellent break virtually the length of the field by winger Matthew Dever. But they were unable to take advantage and create scoring opportunities.
When the prolific Porter landed his fourth penalty on 65 minutes to make it 19-6 for the hosts, they appeared out of sight. However Wegians showed great spirit and resolve as they refused to give up the ghost. They set up camp on the opposition line with the game drawing to a close, And in virtually the last play of the game, they got their just reward when blindside flanker O’Hara, who had just come back off the bench to replace the injured Ivan Muldoon, got on the end of a drive to touch down for his first try of the season. Jarvis then kept his nerve as he landed the difficult conversion to secure what could prove to be a vital losing bonus point. This pulled Wegians a further point clear of second-from-bottom Bruff, who are now six points adrift second from bottom having lost 19-8 away to another Ulster side, Ballymena.
Indeed Ballymena will provide the next opposition for Wegians when the Co. Antrim men travel down to Crowley Park next Saturday Feb 11th (2.30pm) to compete for the Des Dempsey Memorial Cup.