- Result: Galwegians Firsts 32 - Old Wesley 13
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Oct 5th 2013
- Competition: AIL Division 2A
Galwegians kick-started their All Ireland League campaign with a comprehensive win against a much-fancied Old Wesley in their first home Div. 2a fixture at a sun-drenched Crowley Park on Saturday.
After suffering a disappointing defeat in their opening encounter last week in Ballymena, the Blues knew they needed a win to keep in touch with the early leaders. Playing with a strong first-half breeze blowing down the clubhouse end, Wegians got off to the perfect start. Full-back Darragh Leader opted to kick an early penalty to the corner, and it proved the correct decision, as monster scrummaging set up a number of driving mauls resulting in flanker Dan McCabe barging over under the posts for the opening try.
Leader’s simple conversion made it 7-0, and it got even better for Wegians when they scored a second try on 15 minutes. It arrived after home debutant Ciaran Gaffney brilliantly fielded a garryowen inside his half before setting off on a mazy run which bamboozled the home defence, and the youngster had the composure and awareness to put scrum-half Barry Lee clear who finished in the corner for an excellent score.
12-0 down, the shell-shocked visitors were spurred into action, and they fought their way back into the game with a try at the end of the first quarter. However it was a soft concession by Wegians who somehow coughed up what seemed solid scrum ball on their own 5m line, and Wesley scrum-half Ian Cassidy took full advantage to dive over near the left corner. Winger Barry McLaughlin converted to reduce arrears to 12-7.
The second quarter was largely uninspired fare from Wegians who failed to take advantage of the elements. The Dubliners comfortably held them at bay, and they got a further boost when McLaughlin struck an excellent 37th minute penalty into the wind to narrow the gap to just two points. This prompted a late first-half rally by Wegians. Another debutant, Connacht U-20 out-half Rory Parata was unlucky to have a try ruled out by referee Will O’Connor for a double-movement. And the Blues had to settle for a late penalty by Leader on the stroke of half-time to take a 15-10 lead into the break.
At this stage the smart money would have been on Wesley to press home with the elements at their back. But Wegians refused to read the script and were clearly fired up by some straight talking from new coach Cory Browne. They tore into their opponents and went straight on the attack, and barely two minutes after the restart some incisive running and good handling set flanker Paul Hackett off on a weaving run to score an excellent third try.
Moments later some aggressive first-up defence rattled the visitors, and centre Matt Dever blocked down an attempted clearance and excellently gathered his own ball to score the all-important bonus try. Leader converted for good measure to suddenly put daylight between the teams at 27-10.
Wesley tried to pick themselves up, but in truth they never recovered from this double blow. They tried unsuccessfully to create line breaks and attack off the fringe, only to meet a solid wall of Galwegians defence who were in no mood to concede. Indeed all the visitors had to show for their efforts was a solitary penalty by McLaughlin just after the hour-mark.
27-13 up, the Blues had some late defending to do on their line which saw Leader see a yellow card. But any threat of a comeback was dispelled in the last minute when a brilliant length of the field move involving most of the backs saw Wegians substitute scrum-half Caolin Blade cross for a fifth try to put the icing on the cake. This may have put some gloss on the scoreline, but there was no denying that this was a thoroughly deserved win for Wegians which puts them right back into contention in Division 2a. They now face a 3-week break before returning to League action away to Cashel on October 26th.