- Result: Galwegians Firsts 21 - Bective Rangers 12
- Venue: Donnybrook on Sun Mar 23rd 2014
- Competition: AIL Division 2A
Having guaranteed promotion the previous week, Galwegians secured the UBL Division 2a League title when they won their thirteenth straight League victory in a highly entertaining game away to Bective in Donnybrook on Sunday.
The hosts came into this game in the mid-table safety zone and they had a right go, running the ball at every opportunity to avoid the much-vaunted Wegians pack. However it was the Blues who drew first blood on 12 minutes. Centre Brian Murphy forced a good turnover on halfway, and after quick ball was shovelled out to the left, winger Jerome Harrimate showed great acceleration to evade two tackles before feeding scrum-half Caolin Blade on his inside shoulder who crossed under the posts. Out-half Ross Shaughnessy converted for a 7-0 lead.
Bective continued to press, with veteran out-half Barry Lynn keeping the visitors guessing by varying his play. But the Wegians defence held firm, and they struck a decisive blow when they doubled their lead with their second meaningful attack just after the half-hour. Not for the first time this season, it originated from a lineout maul which rumbled up fully 20 metres to the try-line, before the Blues were held up in goal. However a forward shunt by another powerful Wegians scrum meant that Blade had to simply flop on the ball on the try-line, only to be denied by the infringing Bective backrow, and referee David Wilkinson had no option but to award a penalty try. Shaughnessy converted to make it 14-0, which was how it remained at the break.
In the second-half the pattern continued with both sides trying to play free-flowing rugby. However the Wegians defence kept their shape to keep the Bective attack at bay, and they showed their attacking prowess yet again when they scored try number three in the 53rd minute. It came following a superb breakout of defence where veteran John Cleary linked well with promising rookie and substitute winger Ciaran Gaffney to attack the Bective 22. Having stretched the home defence, the Blues were yet again held up over the line, this time captain Brian McClearn being denied. However it was brief respite for the hosts as the Wegians scrum once more drove forward, giving no. 8 Eoin Rooney the chance to claim his first try of the League campaign. Shaughnessy converted again to put Wegians out of sight at 21-0.
The entertainment continued into the final quarter as Bective went in search of points. However Wegians determination to hold firm was epitomised by an epic tackle by the tireless prop Ja Naughton who pummeled Lynn when the outhalf was about to ground the ball in goal for a try, only to knock on with the force of the impact. Winger Harrimate almost stole a bonus point late on with an outrageous basketball-style interception near his try-line, before galloping fully 80 metres downfield only to be hauled down by the chasing defence.
However the hosts finally got their reward when a patient series of phases saw them cross near the posts for a converted try with 8 minutes left. Then right on 80 minutes they scored a second try in the corner to reduce the gap to 21-12. However it was too little too late, and indeed the Blues closed out the game on the attack threatening to add a bonus fourth try. Wilkinson’s whistle then sounded to end the contest and ensure that the League title is heading to Crowley Park, where it will be presented after Wegians’ final League game at home to Rainey Old Boys on Saturday April 12th.
15. John Cleary; 14. Colin Conroy, 13. Rory Parata, 12. Brian Murphy, 11. Jerome Harrimate; 10. Ross Shaughnessy, 9. Caolin Blade; 1. Ja Naughton, 2. Conor Muldoon, 3.Doran McHugh; 4.Dave Nolan, 5. Brian McClearn (capt.); 6. Anthony Ryan, 7. Eddie Earle, 8. Dan McCabe.
Ross Fitzgerald, Jason East, Jack Dinneen, Barry Lee, Ciaran Gaffney.