- Result: Galwegians Firsts 28 - Dungannon 24
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Nov 5th 2011
- Competition: AIL Division 1B
After a run of four opening defeats, Galwegians finally opened their account in this season’s Ulster Bank Division 1b League fixture with a dramatic win against Dungannon at Crowley Park on Saturday. And they did it the hard way, having come back from the dead to seal a thoroughly deserved victory.
Having lost against three Ulster sides already in October and shipping fourteen tries in the process, the omens did not look good for Wegians coming into this fixture. And they made a disastrous start when the visitors took a comfortable 12-0 lead early on. It started in the sixth minute when a loose pass from winger Paddy Finn to his out-half Tadhg Leader was gratefully scooped up by Dungannon’s right-wing Conor Gaston who raced home unopposed to score the game’s first try. And although he had missed a straightforward penalty in the opening minute, full-back Peter Nelson landed an excellent touchline conversion to put the Tyronemen 7-0 in front.
The visitors completely dominated the opening exchanges, and in the sixteenth minute they scored a second try when centre Paul McKenzie made a break and gave a sublime switch pass to full-back Nelson who dotted down in the right-hand corner. The visitors were probably thinking this was going to be an easy afternoon’s work, but after a spluttering start Wegians finally got their game going in the second quarter. Leader opened their account with a 25th minute penalty, and with their forwards now gaining the upper hand, they were dominating both possession and territory.
On the half hour mark an excellent break by scrum-half converted winger Barry Lee almost led to a try. But minutes later the Blues did manage to cross the whitewash, and what a score it was. Once again the inspiration came from their captain John Cleary. Having fielded a high clearance kick on his own 10 metre line, he feigned a pass outside before scything through the middle, evading several tackles on a serving jinking run before rounding full-back Nelson to score a truly sensational individual try near the posts.
Leader’s conversion made reduced arrears to 12-10, and although now well on top, a lapse in concentration saw the Blues concede a third try just before half-time. It followed a break by ‘Gannon centre Stuart McCloskey which saw him held up over the line. But a simple move off the base of the 5 metre scrum saw number 8 James McMahon dive over in the corner to give the visitors a 17-10 advantage.
With a slight wind advantage at their backs, Wegians started the second period with intent, and Leader soon reduced arrears to 17-13 with a well-struck penalty from wide out left. But almost straight from the restart, their brittle defence was again exposed when Dungannon out-half Jarryd Bennett sold a dummy before feeding his scrum-half Michael Kirkwood who sauntered home to touch down near the posts for a fourth try.
Nelson’s simple conversion put the visitors 24-13 in front, and with a bonus point already in the bag they could have been forgive n for thinking they would coast home from here. But they failed to reckon with Galwegians’ determination and resilience, and where earlier this season the home side folded under similar circumstances, this time they refused to accept defeat and they rolled up their sleeves to dig their way out of trouble.
Leader started the revival with another excellent penalty on 50 minutes, this time from near halfway to make it four successful kicks from four attempts. The home pack were now firmly in control in both the set-piece and loose, and after the visitor’s winger Chris Cochrane was sin-binned by ref Darragh McCormack just on the hour mark, the Blues opted to kick for the corner. And they were rewarded with their second try when a lineout maul was finished off by evergreen flanker Ivan Muldoon who burrowed over the line near the right-hand corner.
Now just 24-21 in arrears, it was now very much game on, although Leader was wide with both the difficult conversion attempt and a much more kickable penalty attempt minutes later which would have levelled matters. However the Blues kept pummelling away at the visiting defence, with their outstanding pack keeping them on the front foot. And they took the lead on 70 minutes when an excellent break by influential scrum-half Dave Moore almost saw him go over. But although held up near the line, following a series of pick and drives the former Blackrock man did manage to touch down under the posts moments later for the clinching third try, which Leader converted for a 28-24 lead.
In the final few minutes some nervy moments ensued for the Blues as a couple of unforced errors, including a second strike against the head, handed the visitors a lifeline. And although Gannon threw the kitchen sink in search of victory, they met a determined and resolute Galwegians defence which just about held out to take the four points on offer.
It was no more than Wegians deserved, and other results meant that they actually move off the bottom of the League table following this dramatic victory.
Next up in the Ulster Bank League for Wegians is an away trip to UCD on Saturday November 26th after a three week break from League action.