Galway’s two city rugby clubs enjoyed a successful weekend with both securing vital victories in the AIB League.
Galwegians made it two wins on the trot when they took Ballynahinch’s scalp by 15 - 12 after a last-gasp win over Buccaneers the previous weekend in division 1B, while across the city Corinthians, without a win since early December, overcame Clonakilty to move up mid-table with a 17 - 11 win at Cloonacauneen. In divison 3 Connemara lost out at home to high-flying Banbridge after last weekend’s well-earned victory away to Portadown.
The victory for Galwegians ensures they remain in fourth position in the league, although it now seems unlikely they will be able to catch the top two, Old Belvedere and Ballymena. On Saturday they dominated the contest, but were made to fight all the way to the end for the points.
Ballynahinch outhalf Ryan Bambry and Galwegian centre Dave Clarke exchanged penalties before the home side took over. Despite playing against the wind, they produced some of their best rugby of the season and were rewarded with two deciding tries. The first on 26 minutes followed a passage of play involving both forwards and backs before scrumhalf Kieran Campbell broke on the blind before delivering a chip forward which from winger Tiernan O’Halloran scored in the right corner.
The second, a penalty try, arrived after Bambry missed two long-range penalty attempts. Hinch scrumhalf Harry McAleese was yellow carded following another break from Campbell and with the home scrum clearly superior, Wegians opted for a scrum penalty. They sent the Hinch pack reeling before referee McCormack awarded a penalty try, which Clarke converted for a 15-3 lead.
Although Wegians looked comfortable, Hinch got back into the game after Bambry reduced the arrears with a penalty. Within 10 minutes of the restart the visitors had narrowed the margin to just three with a second Bambry penalty and two drop goals, while Wegians’ captain Ivan Muldoon was sin-binned.
However the home side regained the initiative, dominating both possession and territory, and although they failed to add to their score, they closed out another victory.
Corinthians were also forced to fight to the end in their battle with Clonakilty, having taken a strong lead with three first-half tries from wing James Buckley. A strong scrum gave scrumhalf Mark Dolan space before kicking ahead for Buckley to collect and finish off with outhalf Shane Mullally converting. Buckley added a second after good work from centres Cian Begley and Wayne Williams, and although the visitors kicked a penalty, Corinthians took a 17 - 6 lead when Williams scored a third try befor the break.
However the visitors closed the gap after the restart. Prompted by scrumhalf Alex O’Mahony, the pack upped their urgency and after turning over a Corinthian line-out flanker Lenny Harte touched down from a forward surge. The game became scappy thereafter, and it took a fine tackle by veteran Michael Roche to halt a last-minute try for the visitors to ensure his side took the spoils.