- Result: Galwegians Firsts 20 - Buccaneers 17
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Jan 8th 2005
- Competition: AIL Division 1
Galwegians win a cracking Connacht derby against Buccs.
Wegians played much the better rugby in the first-half. The only aspect of play where they were under pressure was in the scrums, but even there the bulkier Buccs pack were unable to turn it into any real advantage. Wegians were clearly dominant in the line-out, much more lively in the loose, where hooker John Burke and no. 8 Scott Donald especially to the fore. And their backs had much more purpose and carried a greater attacking threat, with out-half Dave Slemen making great use of the wind to create territory in the opening half.
Wegians suffered an early blow when they lost scrum-half Mike Roche after 10 minutes, but his replacement John McDonagh gave a very assured display with some crisp passing and well-judged box-kicks which put the Buccs in trouble on more than one occasion.
Wegians took the lead on 19 minutes when Slemen goaled from halfway after a foot-trip by Buccs captain William Wallace which saw the latter lucky not to receive a yellow card. But five minutes later Wegians extended their lead after some excellent backline play, which started with full-back James Littleton from broken play, and some swift backline handling resulted in winger John Cleary crossing in the left corner for a superb try. Slemen added a brilliant conversion despite the swirling wind for a 10-0 lead.
The out-half was wide with another difficult penalty attempt after 33 minutes, but just before the break the home side got a crucial second try when ex-Buccaneer Stuart Meagher capitalised on some poor Buccs handling and hacked the ball towards the posts, only to be held back twice by Buccs sub Oisin Grennan. But ref Colin Stanley saw enough to award a penalty-try, Slemen adding the simple convert for a deserved 17-0 half-time lead.
In the second-half Wegians started where they left off and nearly got over for a third try, but they settled for another crucial Slemen penalty to stretch the lead to 20-0. However Buccs soon opened their account when Justin Meagher struck a penalty. Moments later an excellent Slemen break nearly put the game out of sight, but instead Wegians were penalised close to the Buccs line, and a huge relieving kick from Justin Meagher then created an attacking platform for the visitors. This led to their first try, when they stretched the home defence by cleverly switching play from right to left, and lock forward Niall Smullen sauntered over, with Meagher converting to reduce arrears to 20-10.
At this point Buccaneers looked transformed, but Wegians weathered the storm and defended extremely well. However on 66 minutes another Justin Meagher-inspired move saw Buccs score a second try, remarkably similar to the first when their other lock Rory McCann crossed on the left, with Meagher adding a good conversion to leave just three points between them.
However Wegians again regrouped, and despite Slemen missing a kickable penalty attempt, they looked like holding out. That was until deep unto stoppage time when Buccs won a penalty on the right, and Meagher was desperately unlucky to see his penalty rebound off the post. But the visitors still had one final chance when a 15-man surge off a lineout saw them attack the Wegians try-line, but the home defence held them out in a thrilling finale for a well deserved win.