- Result: Galwegians Firsts 22 - Old Crescent 35
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Feb 23rd 2019
- Competition: AIL Division 2A
Galwegians suffered yet another defeat in Division 2A when they went down to an in-form Old Crescent at Rosbrien on Saturday.
Marooned at the foot of the table and on the back of a thumping the previous week by Highfield, this was a much better performance by the Blues who restored much-needed pride against a team who are now in the play-off zone. For long periods there was little to choose between the two sides, but the hosts just had the nous to make the most of the opportunities which came their way.
The Blues had the wind at their backs in the first-half, and they got off to the perfect start. When centre Brian Murphy intercepted a midfield pass on the third minute, he set up a counter attack which punctured the Crescent rearguard. Then two phases later good hands fed winger Sean O’Sullivan who had the pace and space to round the cover and go under the posts for a very well-taken try.
Out-half Dave Clarke converted, and with the slightly stunned hosts struggling to gain a foothold, he soon had the chance to stretch their lead with a 7thminute penalty, but his well-struck effort drifted just wide of the posts. The hosts settled into things and were soon getting penalties at scrum-time which gave them a platform. Just after the first quarter they got back on level terms. There was an element of goof fortune, as Wegians hard-working no. 8 Matt Towey slipped on his 22, and big Crescent centre Larry Hanly saw the gap and took full advantage to dive over near the posts, which was converted by Ronan McKenna.
The rest of the half was largely even, although Wegians missed a great opportunity when an attacking line-out was thwarted by accidental offside at the maul. That failure to score when in the red zone was punished by their not so wasteful hosts, who took the lead just before the break. Full-back Val McDermott took a great line to crash through the midfield and score a second try, which McKenna converted for a 14-7 half-time lead.
It was hard to see Wegians recover this situation playing into the second-half breeze, however they started very well and more than matched their opponents. Some excellent continuity play took them upfield on 50 minutes, and when Crescent drifted offside, Clarke took the points on offer with a penalty from in front to reduce the gap to 14-10.
Unfortunately any chance of a comeback was almost immediately wiped out when Wegians failed to secure the restart. A knock-on led to a scrum penalty, and moments later the hosts went over for their third try from debutant David Garry who finished off the work of his forward pack for try number three. This really took the wind out of the sails of Wegians who faced a really uphill task.
This game will unfortunately be remembered for a lengthy and very worrying stoppage for an injury to Blues full-back Ewan Strang, who went down following an innocuous looking challenge on the hour mark. In a somewhat surreal situation, play was halted for almost an hour waiting for an ambulance to arrive. Fortunately it was to prove a precautionary measure only and the young Ulsterman was cleared of any serious injury late evening.
The break in play clearly disrupted both sides’ rhythm, however the hosts didn’t have to wait too long for their bonus try which arrived in the 66thminute courtesy of Kevin Doyle, which was again converted. To their credit Wegians refused to give up the fight, and barely two minutes later centre Murphy took a great line similar to McDermott’s first-half score to scythe through the middle and score under the posts. This gave the Blues a glimmer of hope, howevernow having to force the game, they conceded an intercept late on when McDermott gratefully latched onto a speculative pass to saunter over under the posts and put the result beyond any doubt.
The final act of the game saw the Blues score another well-taken try by makeshift centre Danny Faulkner, however it proved little consolation as the referee signalled full-time, meaning the Blues went home empty-handed yet again.
Relegation to Division 2B now seems a formality with the gap to second-last Blackrock now 13 points with five game rounds left. Next up for the Blues is a home game against Dolphin this Saturday at Crowley Park.