- Result: Galwegians Firsts 47 - Blackrock 32
- Venue: Stradbrook on Sat Dec 2nd 2006
- Competition: AIL Division 1
Galwegians got their AIB All-Ireland League Division 1 campaign right back on track with a blistering seven-try victory away to a much-fancied Blackrock College side on Saturday. Wegians must wish they play Blackrock away every season, as this made it an incredible five straight wins in the AIL at Stradbrook Road, and not surprisingly this was a record points haul in contests between the sides.
After three successive League defeats, Wegians came into this game in quietly confident mood after a most impressive recent friendly win against a seriously strong Connacht ‘A’ team. They gave notice of their intentions early on as their impressive pack fronted up to the opposition, and thus created the opportunity to unleash their talented backline who wreaked havoc in the Rock defence, which allowed the visitors race into a commanding lead. The opening try came for recalled winger John Cleary, who was making his first AIL start in over a year. And he fully capitalised on his chance to impress when he finished off some good work from Wegians skipper Ambrose Conboy.
Despite Rock having the slightly more favourable conditions in the opening period, there was to be no let-up by Wegians who continued where they left off, and incredibly with barely more than half an hour gone, a bonus point was already secured with the game almost out of sight. Some dazzling attacking rugby produced two more tries from newcomers, centre Anthony Barrett and Kieran Hickman who started this game at full-back. Dave Slemen, who gave a commanding performance at out-half, tagged on two conversions and a drop-goal, and when prop Ross Davies scored the fourth try, it looked all ends up for the bewildered home side, who could only muster two penalties from full-back Fionn Carr in response to trail by 27-6 heading into the break.
However Blackrock did cross the whitewash on the stroke of half-time when a rolling maul saw hooker Conor Culleton emerge with the ball, and Carr’s conversion reduced arrears to 27-13 at the break to give them an outside chance. However on the restart, more sloppy defending by Wegians gave Rock a real opportunity to get right back into the game, and they fully capitalised when winger Dave Rowan finished off a move, with Carr converting again to bring them within a score at 27-20.
Clearly stung into action, Wegians had to re-assert their dominance, and after a penalty from Slemen steadied the nerves, try number five followed soon after with winger Colin Mbongwa claiming his first AIL try to stretch the lead to 35-20. This knocked the stuffing out of the home team, and shortly afterwards, winger Cleary completed a memorable comeback when be bagged his second try of the day, to bring it to double scores at 40-20.
Credit the home side who never gave up, and they managed to get their third try from winger Andy O’Neill. Wegians still had time for their number 7 Matt Lacey to score try number 7 courtesy of an intercept, with Cleary bring his personal haul to 12 points with the easy conversion. But Blackrock got their reward when they scored a fourth try from winger Rowan to earn a solitary bonus point, leaving the final score 47-32.
So coach Paul Young was understandably delighted with this performance which saw Wegians jump four places in the League table to eighth position, although he was not pleased to see his side slacken off at times to let the opposition back into it, which is an area they will address this week in training.
Next up should be a cracker of a local derby match when Galwegians host Buccaneers at Crowley Park on Saturday at 2.30pm.