Tribesmen fall short at final hurdle

It was a bitter-sweet day for the Galway Tribesmen Rugby League club on Saturday. Creating history when hosting the first Munster/Connacht Rugby League final outside of Limerick, the Tribesmen also fell short against the Titans of Limerick by 28-18.

It is the second year in a row the Galway team has has fallen to the seven-times winner at this stage of the competition.

The Titans hosted this first final in Galway by virtue of their top-of-the-table finish, and despite the strong winds and heavy showers, the initial exchanges proved to live up to expectations.

The Titans stole the initiative as early as the fourth minute, when, after some sustained pressure near the Tribesmen goal line,  young scrumhalf Brian Bennett sneaked through a gap to register the first score and converted for a 6-0 lead.

Despite some heavy challenges from their big pack men, including former Connacht player and Heineken Cup winner, Peter Bracken, the Tribesmen found themselves on the back foot and within 10 minutes the Titans were 10-0 to the good.

The next 20 minutes saw the Tribesmen gain some momentum through hard running from another former Connacht man Mata Fifita and Andrew Antonio and they were rewarded on when fullback Joshua Nugent crossed for the Tribesmen's first score.  Conor Mackey converted to reduce the arrears to 10-6 at the break.

Titans introduced experienced Irish internationals Brendan Guilfoyle and Aaron McCloskey in the second half, and only the heroic defending from newly capped Irish International Jack Burke and his second row colleague Joe Connolly prevented the Titans from extending their lead. Eventually the visitors breached the defence for a 16-6 lead.

However the Tribesmen capitalised on a Titans' handling error and Anthony Leifi, another  newly capped international, crossed to make the score 16-10.

It proved a brief respite as the Titans forwards dominated and quickly registered a couple of scores to put the game at 28-10.

With 15 minute left on the clock, the Tribesmen began a late revival, firstly through the efforts of Matthew Joyce and then through Joshua Nugent, who scored his second try to cut the deficit to 28-18, but it was not enough to cap what has been a magnificent season by the Galway men.

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