- Result: Galwegians Firsts 52 - Co Carlow 10
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Feb 19th 2005
- Competition: AIL Division 1
Galwegians produced their best performance of the season and ended a three-game losing streak with a seven-try demolition of bottom club Carlow in their AIL Division 1 game at Crowley Park on Saturday.
Wegians went into this game lying third from bottom, only three points ahead of their opponents and perilously close to the relegation play-off spot, so coach Bernie Kelly needed a big performance from his team to ease clear of the danger zone. Fortunately his strongest side of the season duly obliged as they completely dominated proceedings right from the word go to stun the visitors into submission. Wegians had four contracted players on view, props Dan McFarland & Steven Knoop, lock Mick Carroll & the talisman Eric Elwood who was making his first appearance in a blue shirt in almost two years. And their presence told, especially Elwood whose control and direction in the number ten jersey gave his team-mates a massive boost.
Wegians served notice of their intentions after just two minutes when their excellent flanker Ivan Muldoon made the first of many key turnovers, and a skip pass from Elwood gave centre Tom Allen a half-gap and his searing pace left the Carlow cover for dead to score on the right. A flawless Elwood conversion made it 7-0, and the home side doubled their lead in the tenth minute when a perfect lineout maul saw number 8 Scott Donald score his fourth try of the competition.
Carlow’s game is all about forward domination, and while they battled gamely in the tight and competed well in the lineouts, they could not impose themselves against a Wegians pack who were equally abrasive, defended stoutly and dealt comfortably with the driving rucking game of their opponents. And the home side had a clear advantage in the loose and in the backs where they were simply in a different class.
The away side did manage to get off the mark through a Richie Murphy penalty on 13 minutes, but this was cancelled out shortly afterwards by an Elwood strike. Then it got worse for the visitors as Wegians scored their third try after only 24 minutes when some excellent handling by both backs and forwards resulted in Mick Caroll diving over in the left-hand corner, Elwood landing another beauty to put Wegians 24-3 in front.
At this point the game was virtually out of Carlow’s reach, and the only question was when would Wegians secure the vital fourth try to secure a bonus point. They were unable to take their chances before the break, but although facing a slight breeze in the second-half, they did not have to wait too long. For in the 50th minute, a break up the right by scrum-half Mick Roche and Scott Donald once again punctured the Carlow rearguard, and quick ball presented Allen with the chance and he duly obliged to cross for his second try of the game and his seventh in this season’s AIL.
To their credit, Carlow never gave up, and they rallied with a brief flurry, with out-half Murphy scoring an opportunist try under the posts on the hour mark, which he converted to reduce the gap to 31-10. But this only served to re-awaken the home side, and they underlined their dominance to finish with a flourish. The minutes from time, winger Stuart Meagher finished with a wonderful jinking run around the defence to score a fifth try.
There was still time for two more tries, one an utterly bizarre moment when Elwood shaped to drop a goal, but then opted for a cross-kick, only to hook his punt over the bar. But the only man in the ground who seemed alive to the opportunity was Scott Donald who appeared from nowhere to catch and ground the ball for his second try of the game, to the utter bewilderment of the Carlow defence. Then in the last play of the game, one of Wegians’ most consistent and improved performers this year, Ambrose Conboy, finished off another move to score his first try of the season. Elwood completed formalities by landing his eighth kick from eight for a 100% record. It was that sort of day for Wegians when everything went right. As a result of this win, Wegians have leapfrogged three sides in the league table, including provincial rivals Buccaneers, moving up to ninth place and well clear of the danger zone with just three rounds of games remaining.