- Result: Galwegians Firsts 28 - Bangor 26
- Venue: Bangor RFC on Sat Nov 11th 2023
- Competition: AIL Division 2C
Galwegians' unbeaten streak continues with a dramatic last-minute try to steal victory from Bangor RFC last Saturday, winning 28-26, keeping hold of second place in AIL Division 2C.
Galwegians' leading try-scorer for the season Shane Mallon was the hero in sky blue, dotting down between the posts to break Bangor's hearts. Tiarnan Neville held his nerve off the tee and scored the winning conversion to win by just two points.
Galwegians wanted vengeance after their draw to Bruff last time round, conceding a late try on that occasion to bridge a gap between themselves and league leaders Clogher Valley.
One change was made in the Galwegians XV, with a late change at centre allowing Cian Brady to get his first start of the AIL season.
First blood came to Bangor who scored their opening try of the afternoon with their first visit to Galwegians 22 in the fifth minute. A clever inside pass from Gareth Millar allowed winger Connor Scollan to burst through the gap in Galwegian's defence. Scollan found Michael Weir unmarked to get over for the opening score of the game, with Millar picking up the extras for a seven point lead.
Some prolonged possession from Galwegians got them back into the game and Cian Brady bagged Wegian’s first try of the afternoon. A strong carry from Ryan Smith left Bangor exposed and an offload to Brady left him open to level the game. Neville converted in front of the posts to level the game at 7-7.
Bangor started winning penalties and became a recurring theme for the hosts to settle for three points and keep themselves in winning positions. Millar had no issues dispatching the penalty to add three points to Bangor’s tally.
Galwegians were conceding many penalties both at the scrum and the breakdown which kept Bangor dangerous. They scored their second of the afternoon and once again, it was Millar proving the x-factor, breaking through the Blues’ defence once more and linking up with Connor Scollan again for the try. Millar’s conversion made it 17-7 for the Ulster side.
Galwegians clawed back quickly though, and some opportunism from Andrew Sherlock saw him tap and go at the edge of Bangor’s 22 and squeeze his way past Bangor’s defence to touchdown for his first of the season. Neville composed as ever and collected two points to make it a three-point game again.
Bangor kept distancing themselves on the scoreboard collecting more penalties, and a straightforward kick in front of the posts from Millar gave them a six-point advantage.
But on the verge of half-time, Galwegians took the lead after some serious pressure inside the opposition 22, this time it was Rob Holian crossing the whitewash for their third of the afternoon. Neville had a difficult kick ahead of him but struck it well to give Galwegians the lead by a single point.
However, they wouldn’t hold on until half-time conceding a late penalty due to obstruction and Millar maintained a perfect kicking rate, stealing the lead once more. Bangor went back into the dressing rooms with a 23-21 lead in a frenetic first half.
It was the hosts' strongest game of the season, giving the Galway side a run for their money and the second half was no different. Bangor seemed destined to score but a defiant defensive effort from Galwegians kept them from crossing over with a try-saving tackle preventing Scollan’s second of the afternoon.
With Bangor controlling possession, Galwegians' issues were compounded with Garyn Daniel receiving a yellow card, putting the Blues down to fourteen. Neither side had the edge to capitalise and find a score for the majority of the second half.
That was until Bangor finally got their chance in the final quarter winning a penalty from forty metres out. Millar had been strong off the tee all day and kicked home another corker to make 26-21 with the clock ticking down.
With the clock now in the red, Galwegians desperately needed a try to grab a result and with a minute to go, they had to fight from halfway to begin the push towards Bangor’s 22. Finn Tracey made the break that got them into the 22 but still had a lot of work to do if they wanted to cross over.
Twenty phases came and went with Galwegians just metres away from claiming that all-important score. The pressure was getting to Bangor with the referee signalling for an advantage, giving Galwegians a free play. Shane Mallon shrugged off the tackles from Bangor players to get himself past the defence and scored in the 83rd minute to level the game, to the adulation of his teammates and to the horror of Bangor players, who were dejected in a cruel twist of fate.
There was still one last kick to be made and Tiarnan Neville stepped up to make it. Right in front of the posts, he calmly put it way to seal the victory by the merest of margins. A close call for Galwegians, but another bonus point win only keeps them three points adrift from Clogher Valley on top of the league.
Galwegians have a different set of fixtures ahead with two home games upcoming, firstly against third-placed side Enniscorthy this Saturday at 2.30 pm before they take on their biggest obstacle of the season yet, with high-flying Clogher Valley in two weeks' time.