- Result: Galwegians Firsts 5 - Belfast Harlequins 36
- Venue: Deramore Park on Sat Jan 25th 2020
- Competition: AIL Division 2B
Galwegians suffered a third successive defeat in the Energia AIL Division 2B League when they were well beaten by hosts Belfast Harlequins on Saturday.
It was a very frustrating afternoon for the Blues, as while the margin of defeat was decisive, it was more a reflection of missed opportunities and errors, as opposed to coming up against a far superior team. However the difference was a ruthlessness which the hosts showed when taking their chances, in contrast to an off-colour Wegians.
The Blues started reasonably well and although they lost prop Shane Ryan to an early injury, he was replaced by the energetic Conor Kyne. They had a clear advantage in the set-piece, where a strong scrum was causing serious trouble for the hosts. The Blues were awarded most of the early penalties by ref Colm Roche, but for all their possession they were unable to make any inroads and never really threatened the opposition 22.
In contrast Quins were looking threatening with ball in hand, and they opened the scoring on 17 minutes. It came following their first serious attacking phase, with scrum-half Conor McAuley spotting a gap and darting over for the first try of the game. Out-half Paul Kerr landed the conversion, and a few minutes later he tagged on a simple three-pointer in front of the posts after the Blues coughed up a soft penalty when trying to exit their 22.
Neither side had much advantage of a stiff cross-breeze blowing directly across the pitch, but the visiting pack were continuing to provide a decent platform from which to attack. Wegians came close to reducing the margin twice before the break, first when flanker Lucas Culliton was stopped five metres short following a strong burst, and shortly afterwards when an excellent rolling maul was turned over just before the line.
They were made pay for their inability to score when Quins stretched their lead just on half-time. When the Blues struggled to exit their 22, the Northerners piled on the pressure and big lock forward Chris Bennison crashed over on the right. Although unconverted this gave the home side a very comfortable 15-0 margin going into the second-half.
Wegians needed to score first to get back into the game, and like in the first-half they started with energy and trying to play on the front foot. They were not helped by the loss of centre Tommy Downes who was withdrawn after taking a first-half knock. However they were largely the authors of their own misfortune with some very poor passing coughing up possession time and again. In contrast the hosts were not quite so wasteful, and the game was effectively settled on 52 minutes when their captain and full-back Mark Glover saw a gap and finished strongly in the right-hand corner. Kerr judged his conversion perfectly to put the hosts 22-0 clear.
Unfortunately Wegians were unable to put any consistent attack together and there was a certain inevitability about Quins getting a bonus try. It came on 65 minutes after Wegians lock Eoin Tarmey was binned for stopping a quickly tapped penalty near the line. Then following a 5 metre scrum, the home pack, who had struggled all day upfront, made the extra man pay with a powerful shunt which yielded a penalty try. It got worse for the Blues when the impressive Glover finished off a sweeping counter-move on 73 minutes for a fifth try and complete the rout.
The Blues did at least show some heart to mount one last attack and they finally got on the scoresheet when sub Matt Towey finished off a strong rolling maul late on to score in the corner. However it was scant consolation and they cut a dejected bunch at the end, knowing that the final score was a poor reflection of their abilities. However they have to take it on the chin and get ready for a crunch game against an improving Dungannon side at Crowley Park on February 15th.