Towards a century at the heart of Connacht rugby

Firsts 17 – Dungannon 0

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Match Result

  • Result: Galwegians Firsts 17 - Dungannon 0
  • Venue: Stevenson Park on Sat Nov 30th 2019
  • Competition: AIL Division 2B

Match Report

Galwegians got their first away win in over 18 months and made it three wins on the trot in the Energia AIL Division 2B when they comfortably beat Dungannon away on Saturday. It was also their first-ever win at Stevenson Park against their long-standing AIL rivals from Tyrone.

The Blues came into this game in confident mood after quietly going about their business with their two recent wins over Malahide and Ballina. Playing against the breeze in the first half, they started well and had the majority of the possession and the territory early doors, albeit without putting any points on the board. Their scrum was dominant which yielded some good attacking opportunities, however the lineout was less efficient and this was costing them early points.

Their dominance eventually told near the half-hour mark, and ironically it came from another lost lineout. When the Ulstermen went to clear their lines, Wegians’ hooker Christy Reilly charged it down and chased it himself to ground the ball over the line for the opening try. Although the conversion was missed, this settled the Blues whereas it unnerved the hosts whose discipline was costing them. ‘Gannon hooker Mal Allister and flanker Adam Milligan were binned in the final ten minutes of the opening half, and this period proved the winning and losing of the game.

With half-time nearing, Wegians struck decisively with two more tries in rapid succession. Try number two came from a well-worked lineout move. When scrum-half Rory Gaffney found no. 8 Kieran Downey, he fed fellow back-row Mikey O’Donnell who broke through the middle before finding in-form winger Sanz Sibande on his inside who finished under the posts for a superb score. Out-half Ewan Strang converted and the Blues were good value for a 12-0 lead.

Things got even better when the third try came straight from the restart. When the ball was worked wide, centre Diarmuid Kilgallen combined well with full-back Conor O’Shaughnessy to set up another attack. A couple of phases later, Gaffney threw a great pass to captain Marty Cummins who in turn fed Sibande, and the speedster just about held onto the ball to touch down in the corner. This gave Wegians a comfortable 17-0 half-time lead.

Playing into the wind, Gannon had a mountain to climb in the second half. However they upped the ante and threw everything at the Blues who had to work hard at defence. When Downey was binned close to his own line midway through the half, ‘Gannon opted for the scrum but some excellent defence from Gaffney saw him make a try-saving tackle into touch.

Wegians still had plenty attacking opportunities to get the bonus point, but an insecure lineout was proving a hindrance. They had one real chance late on when a turnover in defence saw it kicked through, and Sibande came within a whisker of grounding the ball for what would have been a hat-trick. However it wasn’t to be, and the second-half remained scoreless to ensure the final result was 0-17.

While they will have been satisfied with the win and a shutout, it’s a measure of Wegians’ new-found ambition and belief that they ended up disappointed not to emerge with a bonus point. This win sees them retain fifth position, but they have considerably narrowed the gap to the top four, where they are a solitary point behind fourth-placed Wanderers.

Their next AIL clash is this Saturday Dec.7th when they take on another Ulster team, this time old rivals Belfast Harlequins at Crowley Park (2.30pm kick-off).

Players

15. Conor O’Shaughnessy, 14. Sandile Sibande, 13. Diarmuid Kilgallen, 12. Daniel Faulkner, 11. James Kennedy, 10. Ewan Strang, 9. Rory Gaffney, 1. Conor Kyne, 2. Christy Reilly, 3. Ryan Lomas, 4. Eoin Tarmey, 5. Marty Cummins (Captain), 6. Josh Dunne, 7. Michael O’Donnell, 8. Kieran Downey. Subs: Andrew Paton, Shane Ryan, Matt Towey, Eamonn Dowling, Sean O’Sullivan

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