- Result: Galwegians Firsts 18 - Highfield 40
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Dec 2nd 2017
- Competition: AIL Division 2A
It was a case of yet more agony and frustration for Galwegians in Division 2A when they suffered another emphatic defeat, this time at the hands of second-placed Highfield. Although there was little evidence of what was to come in the opening period of this contest, which gave new meaning to the phrase “a game of two halves”.
Played at a crisp and dry Crowley Park on Saturday, the Blues were completely in command and full value for a 13-0 lead at half-time. However a collapse in the third quarter saw the game turned on its head as the Corkmen turned the screw and incredibly ran in five tries in as little as 13 minutes to consign Wegians to another heavy defeat.
Wegians came into this game minus some of their leading players, in particular prop Jason East and centre Brian Murphy whose absence would be keenly felt in the second-half. However there was little sign of this early on as the Blues played all the rugby. The hosts had an early chance to turn possession and territory into a score, only to knock on near the Highfield line. However their scrum was very much on top where the returning loose-head Conor Kyne put in a great shift. This provided the platform for Wegians and out-half Morgan Codyre kicked two penalties on 17 and 25 minutes to put his side 6-0 to the good.
The visitors were offering little threat and the Blues were keeping their error count to the minimum, ensuring they maintained the upper hand. They deservedly stretched their lead with the game’s opening try after the half-hour mark. It followed a penalty kick to the corner and after some patient attacking play, the impressive scrum-half Richie Fahy sniped over on the left. Codyre, who had his kicking boots on, landed an excellent conversion to give his side a 13-point buffer approaching half-time. Indeed Wegians had a further chance just before the break, but crucially one last assault was thwarted by the Highfield defence.
The second-half started ominously for the Blues when an unforced error from the restart handed the opposition an attacking scrum. Wegians’ lost the services of prop Kyne who was confined to a 40 minute run-out on his return to action, whereas as in direct contrast the visitors then sprung USA international prop Paddy Ryan from the bench. This completely turned the game as Highfleld now had a serious upper hand at scrum-time, where the absence of East in the front-row was to prove extremely costly for his side.
For all that the visitors made hard work of scoring their opening try, but it eventually came on 50 minutes when some further errors saw Wegians unable to escape from their own 22, and substitute Ryan barrelled over under the posts for his side’s opening try which was converted by Chris Banon.
Three minutes later and disaster struck for Wegians when a pass from Codyre on halfway was intercepted by Highfleld’s Fintan O’Sullivan, and the powerful lock raced home to score his side’s second try. Although this conversion was missed to put the visitors just one point behind, they didn’t have to wait long to take the lead, which came straight from the restart when they waltzed through the midfield defence. Although there looked like one suspiciously forward pass in the move, this time player-coach Timmy Ryan barged over the line and the conversion by Bannon stretched their lead to 19-13.
Within five minutes the rout was complete as the visitors went in for the kill against a shell-shocked Wegians side. In the blink of an eye they racked up another two tries to seal the bonus and put themselves out of sight. Winger David O’Sullivan had acres of space to score the fourth try before prop Ryan bagged his brace soon after.
It was a devastating 13 minutes of rugby which was harrowing for this young Wegians side to endure, however to their credit they battled on gamely, and they did grab a late consolation score when hooker John Moloney finished off a well-worked line-out move in the corner. However it was Highfield who had the final say to round off an emphatic 40 minutes of dominance, when referee Chris Busby awarded them a penalty try in the last play of the game.
It was a cruel lesson for Wegians, however they can take heart from a promising opening period where they looked well in control, before the second-half collapse. This Saturday they face the same opposition, only this time away in Cork. Other results meant Wegians slipped to bottom of the League table to complete a miserable afternoon for the Blues.