Galwegians head to Dublin intent on maintaining their top-of-the-table position in the Ulster Bank League when they face a struggling Seapoint side in Kilbogget Park on Saturday (2.30pm).
There is nothing to suggest Galwegians will not continue their assault on the division 2A competition when they face the 12th place Seapoint side, but, having suffered a shock defeat to the Dubliners last season, coach Cory Brown will insist his charges remain clinical and composed on Saturday.
With Queen’s University hot in pursuit and just four points behind, there is no room for slip-ups if Galwegians want to push for the promotion spot.
Last weekend Galwegians always looked in control against UCC in Crowley Park, but they were never safe until the final whistle. Despite controlling most of the opening half, they were never allowed to get out of sight by a gritty student outfit that was well organised in defence.
With a 100 per cent home record to preserve, it was closer than Wegians would have liked, particularly having been boosted by the return of Connacht players.
The home side looked in control in the first quarter and were rewarded with two penalties which fullback Darragh Leader struck well to put his side into a 6-0 lead in the opening 15 minutes. However they were unable to capitalise on territorial advantage, and with their line-out malfunctioning due to the menacing presence of UCC captain Brian Quill, the students began to gain in confidence as the half progressed.
The students were given a big boost when outhalf Sean Og Murphy successfully blocked an attempted Leader clearance and won the race to touch down for the game’s opening try. His conversion gave the visitors a lead and put a pep in their step, helped by a Murphy penalty when Wegians were pinged at the ruck shortly after.
However the Blues went on the attack from the restart, forcing a penalty which Leader again converted from 30 metres before grabbing a vital try just before the break. Scrumhalf Barry Lee broke through the defence inside his half before finding supporting centre Brian Murphy who finished under the posts. Leader added the extras to give Wegians a 16-10 half-time lead.
Despite the difficult conditions, the students dominated long periods of the second half, and Galwegians found themselves on the back foot. They were fortunate when Murphy missed a kickable penalty on 50 minutes, and when prop Peter McCabe, whose brother Dan was the Galwegian No 8, was penalised just shy of the line after a magnificent maul had pushed the Blues backwards 30 metres.
It was not until the final 10 minutes that Wegians began to exert some territorial dominance. Although they failed to capitalise when Leader’s penalty was well wide, they regained the initiative immediately. The pack took charge before replacement scrumhalf Caolin Blade saw a gap, racing in to score his fourth try of the campaign which was converted for a 23-10 lead.
However the home side could never relax as the students continued to take the game to their opponents. After a series of assaults in the Wegian 22, fullback Tom O’Hare crossed for a deserved try with Murphy’s conversion narrowing the gap to six points. In the final minutes UCC again came close, but Wegians kept them out to preserve their unbeaten home record.
Galwegians RFC: D Leader; J Cleary, R Parata, B Murphy, J Harrimate; R Shaughnessy, B Lee; J Naughton, R Fitzgerald, J East; A Ryan, B McClearn (cpt); E Rooney, E Earle, D McCabe. Replacements, C Blade, C Gaffney, J Dinneen, C Muldoon, P Griffin.