- Result: Galwegians Firsts 17 - Dolphin 22
- Venue: Dolphin RFC on Sat Nov 3rd 2018
- Competition: AIL Division 2A
It was a case of so near, yet so far for Galwegians who came tantalisingly close to their first win of this season’s AIL campaign, before coming up just short against hosts Dolphin in Cork on Saturday. In a gripping contest which ebbed and flowed throughout, the Blues were left to rue some mistakes which cost them at key moments in the game.
Wegians came into this match on the back of a heavy home defeat against high-riding Cashel last week, but they were boosted by the return of three front-liners this week and took to the new 4G surface in Cork in confident mood playing with the elements in the first-half. From the outset one could see that both sides were fairly evenly matched, and in a portent of things to come, the hosts drew first blood in the eighth minute when they capitalised on a defensive error. When the Blues spilled possession near their 10m line, the hosts fly hacked the ball towards the try-line forcing a 5m scrum. The damage was done and moments later their lock Will O’Shaughnessy burst over moments later to put them 5-0 in front.
Despite this early set-back, Wegians settled into the contest and were dominating possession, albeit rarely threatening the opposition 22. Returning out-half Dave Clarke tried his luck with a long-range penalty on 26 minutes but was off target, and when they launched their first real attack shortly afterwards, scrum-half Rory Gaffney knocked on near the line when the Blues seemed certain to score. However on 36 minutes their pressure was finally rewarded when patient attacking play resulted in hooker John Moloney taking a superb skip pass to dive in at the left-hand corner for an excellent try. Clarke looked to have perfectly judged his touchline conversion, only for the ball to fall inches short of the crossbar, leaving it 5-5.
The visitors suffered a real set-back just before the break when an unforced error conceded the initiative again. When Dolphin forced a penalty and went to the corner, some stout Wegians defence initially kept them at bay. But an offside infringement gave their hosts a second chance, and this time they made it count when centre Will Hanley dived over near the posts for their second try, out-half Daryl Foley converting for a morale-boosting 12-5 half-time lead.
Wegians appeared up against it in the second half facing the breeze, although it was starting to ease off, and they made light of any disadvantage by taking the game straight to their opponents. On 45 minutes they levelled the contest for a second time. It followed another patient attack, when some excellent handling and ball retention by both forwards and backs eventually led to promising new prop Ryan Lomas crashing over near the posts. Clarke added the extras to make it 12-12.
Not for the first time the Blues offered the Cork side a way back into the game with another knock-on from the restart. This led to another scrum penalty, and Foley went for the posts to put his side back in front 15-12. However it was short-lived as the see-saw nature of this contest continued when Wegians took the lead for the first time near the hour mark. It came following a great intercept by forward Michael O’Donnell, and the youngster showed great strength, determination and no little composure to sprint 30 metres, before finding supporting flanker Ronan Moore on his left shoulder who dived over for his sides’s third try. Clarke was unlucky when his conversion came back off the upright leaving his side 17-15 in front.
Despite losing experienced centre Brian Murphy and scrum-half Gaffney to injury, their first win of the season was now well in sight for the Blues, but it wasn’t to be as a frustrating inability to hold onto the ball was to cost them yet again. This time the otherwise impressive full-back Ewan Strang failed to handle a speculative up and under and fumbled the ball into touch near the 5 metre line. It was a case of déjà vu as the hosts made the most of their good fortune, patiently building an attacking platform before Dan Horgan crossed near the left upright to score his side’s third try. Foley tagged on the extras and suddenly the hosts had a 5-point advantage.
The game was still in the balance as both sides went in search of a bonus fourth try. Wegians came close when pounding the opposition try-line, only for O’Donnell to be penalised for holding on. Then in the last play of the game, following an attacking lineout inside the Dolphin 22, the Blues’ maul was turned over by a dogged and wily home pack. Thus the chance was gone, meaning a frustrated Wegians had to be content with a consolation solitary bonus point. However at least they have now opened their account, and there is much for coach Brian McClearn to build on when they host Old Crescent this Saturday at Crowley Park in another hugely important game for the Blues.