Galwegians head to Bruff in pole position
Galwegians head to County Limerick on Saturday looking to record their seventh Ulster Bank League division 2A win.
Having taken pole position in the league after a hard-fought win away to Banbridge last weekend, they now will be looking to maintain their promotion bid when they face bottom-of-the-table Bruff.
Wegians, with 28 points (including four try bonus points) now have a one-point lead over Ballymena, while Bruff, with just three points, have yet to win a game.
A focused challenge from Galwegians on Saturday should enable them to take the win and remain in position to challenge for honours.
Having put together five straight victories in the league and boosted by their recent senior cup final win over Corinthians in Crowley Park, Galwegians went into last Saturday’s game in fine form, but they were made to work hard for an 11-7 victory. A resurgent Banbridge, despite having endured a poor start to their league campaign, came into the contest after two impressive wins over fellow Ulster clubs Ballymena and Rainey Old Boys.
After both sides missed early chances on Saturday, the visitors took control and the lead on 10 minutes when outhalf Ross Shaughnessy slotted over a penalty when the home defence drifted offside defending their line.
The Blues played most of the rugby in the opening period, and deservedly stretched their lead at the end of the first quarter following an excellent blockdown by lock Anthony Ryan on the Banbridge 22. Alert Wegians’ captain Brian McClearn fed Shaughnessy who dived over for the opening try, which he failed to convert.
It took some last-gasp Wegians defence to keep the home side from scoring, but, in a scrappy affair, the visitors coughed up a lot of ball and ceded the advantage to their hosts. However Banbridge wasted two chances to narrow the deficit with kickable penalties, and Galwegians maintained their 8-0 lead at the break.
That changed soon after the restart when early pressure from Banbridge was rewarded with a try by winger Hugo Harbison, which was converted by Adam Docherty to reduce the gap to a single point.
Wegians, having had lost their rhythm and continuously penalised for playing the ball on the ground, lost Shaughnessy to the sinbin, but Docherty was wide of the posts with the ensuing penalty. However, with the extra man advantage, they proceeded to set up camp in the Wegians 22, but for all their huff and puff, they were unable to breach a dogged and determined Wegian line.
An excellent clearance from centre Rory Parata eventually lifted the siege for the Blues, and when back to 15 men they regained control and dominated both the possession and territory stakes, threatening the try line on several occasions. Full-back John Cleary was narrowly wide with a penalty on 65 minutes, but with a few minutes to go, substitute outhalf Ciaran Gaffney split the posts with a well-struck penalty after the hosts were forced offside. This gave the Blues a four-point cushion - sufficient to grab a valuable away league win and take pole position in the division for the first time this season.
Galwegians: John Cleary, Colin Conroy, Rory Parata, Brian Murphy, Jerome Harrimate, Ross Shaughnessy, Caolin Blade, Ja Naughton, Conor Muldoon, Jason East, Anthony Ryan, Brian McClearn, Eoin Rooney, Eddie Earle, Dan McCabe. Replacements, Barry Lee, Ciaran Gaffney, Ross Fitzgerald, Doran McHugh, Sean O’Brien.