Galwegians moved six points clear of the relegation zone after gaining a valuable bonus point away to Belfast Harlequins, but they need to go one better when they host another promotion chasing side this weekend.
Harlequins’ 19 - 13 win at Deramore Park propelled the Ulster side to the top of the Ulster Bank League division 1B table, but this Saturday fellow hopefuls Ballymena travel to Galwegians intent on continuing their ascent, having moved into third place and just two points behind Harequins. Their 19 -8 victory over Bruff last weekend helped Galwegians stay clear of the Munster outfit who are five points off bottom-placed UCC.
However Galwegians will want to push that distance even further, and Saturday presents an ideal opporrtunity despite Ballymena’s promotion credentials.
As a result Saturday’s fixture at Crowley Park, which also doubles as the annual Des Dempsey Memorial Cup event, ensures there is much at stake for both sides.
Last weekend a last-gasp converted Dave O’Hara try saw Galwegians salvage a bonus point - a creditable performance given Harlequins had posted a 39 - 15 win over the Galway side in October.
In bitterly wet and cold conditions, Quins opened the scoring with an early third minute penalty from scrumhalf Ian Porter before the Blues drew level on 15 minutes with a well-struck Matt Jarvis penalty after Harlequins’ flanker Alistair Heatlie was sinbinned. The visitors then went ahead with a second Jarvis penalty, but the home side took over. The result was a 27th minute penalty before a penalty try was awarded following a collapsed scrum near the Wegians line. Porter added the extras and a third penalty soon after the interval, while Jarvis spurned an opportunity to reduce the arrears before the break.
The underfoot conditions made it difficult for both sides to create real scoring opportunities, but Wegians did establish some territory and possession, including one excellent break virtually the length of the field by winger Matthew Dever. However they were unable to take advantage.
When Porter landed his fourth penalty on 65 minutes to make it 19-6, the home side appeared out of sight. However Wegians showed great spirit and resolve and, in virtually the last play of the game, they were rewarded when replacement blindside flanker O’Hara, got on the end of a drive to touch down for his first try of the season. Jarvis kept his nerve to land the difficult conversion, securing a vital losing bonus point.
Galwegians: J Cleary; C Conroy, B Murphy, T Leader, M Dever; M Jarvis, B Lee; J East, C Muldoon, J Stephens; D O’Hara, B McClearn; D Murphy, I Muldoon, E McKeon. Subs: J Naughton, O Tarmey, R Fitzgerald, R Shaughnessy, D Clarke.