At a rainy and windswept Crowley Park on Friday night, Corinthians rode their luck to escape with a draw and remain ahead of their rivals Galwegians in the Ulster Bank League division 2A.
Galwegians started with intent and dominated the opening exchange. Early pressure led to a penalty on eight minutes, but out-half Morgan Codyre was wide of the mark.
The Blues continued to lord territory in the opening quarter, but they were to rue several missed opportunities, the best of them when scrumhalf Hugh Lane had a snipe near the line, only to knock on the slippy ball when over the whitewash.
Corinthians defended well and also missed a cjamce to take the lead when centre Mark McDermott miscued from the 22m line. It was more of the same for the remainder of the opening period, with the Blues unable to breach a dogged Corinthian defence.
Both sides were reduced to 14 men before half-time - Corinthians full-back Cian de Buitlear saw yellow for a professional foul which denied the hosts a scoring opportunity, but again Codyre was off target. Moments later, following the intervention of the referee’s assistant, Wegians’ Brian Murphy was sent to the bin for 10 minutes.
Despite facing into the wind, the home side again came out of the traps, and their dominance in the scrum was rewarded whenm following a second strong shunt from five metres out, referee Shane Kierans awarded a penalty try to put them 7-0.
Rather than kick on, the hosts shot themselves in the foot - their lead lasting barely two minutes, when they spilled the restart and handed their visitors an attacking scrum inside the 22.
Corinthians wasted no time in taking advantage, taking play right up to the line. Initially it looked like referee Kierans was signalling to penalise the attacking team with Wegians defending manfully, only for a sudden change of heart when he awarded a second penalty try in as many minutes, much to the relief of the visiting fans and the consternation of the hosts.
And with Wegians No 8 Jack Winters sin-binned as well, it handed Corinthians the initiative. However the Blues continued to dominate the forward exchanges. Corinthians' centre Kieran Joyce tried his luck with a long-range penalty, but it was short and wide.
Galwegians continued to dominate, but were stymied by a lack of confidence and poor decision-making. The game was summed up in the last play when Wegians outhalf Codyre made a scything break from near halfway to have only the fullback de Buitlear to beat, but failed to spot the unmarked prop Jason East on his inside shoulder, and with that their chance was gone.
Galwegians: R Dempsey, B Dixon, B Murphy, D Clarke, D Carr, M Codyre, R Fahey, P Curran, J Moloney, J East, E Tarmey, M Cummins, M Towey, R Mooney, J Winters. Subs: C Torpey, M Fox, A Johnson, R Gaffney, J Coen.
Corinthians: C de Buitlear, M O’Reilly, D McDermott, K Joyce, L Marmion, M McDermott, S Horan, M Burke, P O’Toole, C Hansberry, D Hansberry, C Raftery, A Broderick, M O’Connell, C Gallagher. Subs, K Gavin, S Faulkner, J Noone, C Evans, S Hudson.
Ref: Shane Kierans (IRFU )