- Result: Galwegians Firsts 48 - Bruff 20
- Venue: Bruff RFC on Sat Jan 11th 2014
- Competition: AIL Division 2A
Galwegians cemented their position at the top of Ulster Bank League Division 2a when they routed a hapless Bruff side who were unable to cope with the pace and power of an on-form Blues side at Kilballyowen Park on Saturday.
This was a top versus bottom League fixture, and remarkably it was the third League fixture in succession where Bruff had to face the League leaders. And while they may have run their previous two opponents Derry & Ballymena close, this contest proved something of a mismatch as Wegians ran in no less than eight tries.
Played in crisp dry conditions, Wegians showed their meant business when they went on the offensive from the off. Out-half Ross Shaughnessy was off target with an early penalty, but the first try came in the tenth minute when a lineout maul was finished off by prop Jason East. The second try came barely five minutes later when captain Brian McClearn charged down an attempted clearance by Bruff out-half Declan Bannon near his line, and the towering lock won the race to the ball and touched down just inside the end-line. Shaughnessy found his range this time from near the touchline to add the extras and give the Blues a comfortable 12-0 lead.
Bruff responded well and when they regained possession from the restart, they forced an offside with out-half Bannon landing the penalty to open their account. However it was brief respite for the hosts, as Wegians went back in search for more. And just after the first quarter they scored try number three. Again it came from a lineout where the Blues were utterly dominant, and when the ball was spun wide, impressive centre Jerome Harrimate skipped through a soft midfield defence to touch down near the posts, with Shaughnessy again converting for a 19-3 lead.
Try as they might, the hosts seemed powerless to cope with Wegians who were superior in every department, with their powerful pack again providing the platform and the backs looking threatening with every move. The bonus fourth try arrived just before the break when they swung play from right to left and then back again, with hooker Conor Muldoon eventually getting over near the right-hand corner. This left it 24-3 at half-time and the Blues were very good value for the lead.
However far from resting on their laurels, Wegians went in search for more and they scored with their first attack after the restart. Some swift handling saw outside centre Colin Conroy combine well with Ciaran Gaffney, and the young winger showed excellent pace and awareness to slip a return pass inside to Conroy who crossed unimpeded for try number five. Shaughnessy added the extras to leave the Blues already well out of sight at 31-3. Bruff though showed good character to keep plugging away, and in what was their first real attack of note, their patience was awarded after several attacking phases when winger Cian Tierney crossed near the right having stretched the Blues defence.
However the Blues were still not finished, and they showed great killer instinct in going for more scores. Full-back John Cleary was very eager to get in on the scoring act, and although he wasted two gilt-edged opportunities when a pass seemed the better option, he finally got over the line on the hour mark when scything through the midfield from outside the 22 metre line. Gaffney added the conversion, and shortly afterwards the relentless pressure from the visitors led to Harrimate selling a dummy with men outside him to cross his second and Wegians’ seventh try. This made it an emphatic 43-8 lead which did not flatter Wegians.
Credit Bruff who tried gallantly to work their way back into the game, and in the last ten minutes they caught an otherwise imperious defence napping. First out-half Bannon ran a good line before selling a dummy to cross near the right corner, and when they tapped a quick penalty two minutes later, hooker Johnny Cleary burst through the middle to give them faint hope of an unlikely four-try bonus point. Wegians closed out the game on the attack, and in the last play of the game, Conroy made a cross-kick which Gaffney collected in style to dive over and score his first senior try for the Blues.
Although missing a handful of players to the Connacht Eagles, the strength in depth of the Wegians’ senior squad shows that they are clearly a force to be reckoned with, and other results meant that their lead at the top stretched to four points at the halfway mark of the campaign, making them the team to catch.
Next up for the Blues is the Bateman Cup semi-final away to Division 1a side UCD in Belfield this Saturday. On this form the Blues will certainly fancy their chances of causing an upset.