- Result: Galwegians Firsts 29 - Lansdowne 16
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sun Jan 15th 2006
- Competition: AIL Division 1
Galwegians produced their best performance of the season when they overcame Lansdowne in a highly entertaining game of rugby in Crowley Park on Sunday afternoon, thereby moving out of the relegation zone.
After a very disappointing recent run of form, Wegians started brightly and they were good value for their 3-0 lead courtesy of a John Culkin drop-goal on 13 minutes. However the visitors served notice that they were also in search of points, and a penalty from their kiwi out-half Corey Burt soon levelled matters. The same player then traded penalties with Galwegians’ full-back Brendon Bartley.
Wegians were playing with the aid of a breeze in the first-half and one felt that they needed to open up a decent lead. It came on 23 minutes when a clever chip by their influential scrum-half Tom Tierney won a penalty after he had been obstructed. And having established early line-out dominance, with Liam Scahill, Andrew Gallagher & Mike Swift providing several options, not surprisingly they kicked for the corner. And it proved to be a wise decision as a clean take by Swift set up the platform, with young centre Brian Murphy finishing off by crashing under the posts for the opening try. Bartley added the easy conversion for a seven point lead.
However the lead lasted barely ten minutes, as Lansdowne responded in style and appeared to strike a decisive blow in the 33rd minute. Out-half Burt orchestrated a superb double-loop move to send flying winger Fiachra Baynes over in the left corner for a superb try, with Burt adding the difficult conversion to level the match for the third time. The visitors seemed to be gaining the edge at this juncture, however the home side refused to panic and they stuck to their task admirably. They received a real morale-booster on the stroke of half-time when they opted to run a penalty from deep inside their own half, which ultimately resulted in a second Brendon Bartley penalty for a 16-13 lead at the break.
Despite playing into the mild breeze in the second-half, Wegians again began with purpose, and another penalty from the on-song Bartley soon stretched their lead to six points, after Lansdowne flanker, ex-Wegian David Lavin was sin-binned for persistent infringing. Bartley and Burt again traded penalties before the hour mark. The visitors introduced Leinster scrum-half Brian O’Meara for the second–half, but his presence did not have the desired impact as they failed to make any inroads against a superbly marshalled and disciplined Galwegian defence. The backline were performing both individually and as a cohesive unit, while the home pack were now dominating in both the set-pieces and the loose, with the back-row unit of Swift, Ambrose Conboy and the outstanding rookie Liam Casserly forcing several turnovers.
The decisive score came on 68 minutes when Lansdowne no. 8 Jim O’Donovan became the second visiting player to be sin-binned. And following another kick to the corner from out-half Peter Durkan, this time the line-out maul had enough momentum and captain Ambrose Conboy grounded the ball in the right-half corner for a crucial second try. Bartley made it 6 from 7 with another superb conversion to open up a 13 point gap. This was to prove the last score of the game as Wegians flirted briefly with notions of gaining a bonus point by searching for more tries. Then in the final minutes the visitors threw everything in search of a bonus point themselves. But despite Galwegians receiving a farcical four yellow cards in a seemingly endless stoppage time, they still held firm to hold on for a thoroughly deserved victory.
Next up for Wegians is a crucial game away to Dublin University this Saturday, where a win is vital in the battle for survival in Division 1.