Galwegians preserved their 100 per cent home record with they notched up a fourth successive bonus point win at Crowley Park against Old Crescent on Saturday.
Played under lights as part of Galwegians’ 50th anniversary at Glenina, the home side produced a solid display with a 34-0 victory which now puts them within closing distance of their nearest rivals in the Ulster Bank League division 2A.
Although still fourth in the table, Wegians, with 24 points, have closed the gap on new leaders Ballymena with 27, while both Queens University and City of Derry sit on 25. And the Galway city side possesses the best scoring record, some 171 points, while also conceding the least - giving them a superior 104 points difference - 25 points better than their rivals.
That scoring prowess was evident again on Saturday when they had scored three tries in the opening half, and although Old Crescent made them work hard in the second half, they grabbed the bonus and maintained their defence to keep the Limerick outfit from scoring.
A comfortable start with two early Ross Shaughnessy penalties put them 6-0 in front in the first 10 minutes. They then signalled their intent to celebrate the anniversary in style when they bagged their first try in the 12th minute. It came from a trademark burst by fullback John Cleary who ran from inside his half, breaking three tackles, before finding centre Jerome Harrimate on his shoulder who dived over near the posts, giving Shaughnessy an easy conversion for a 13-0 lead.
The hosts continued to dominate proceedings, and it was no surprise when they scored a second try before the end of the first quarter - and not for the first time this season it came from a penalty try. After strong pressure near the visitors’ line had forced an offside, a powerful five-metre scrum sent the visitors reeling backwards, and when it was pulled down ref Jonny Erskine wasted no time in gong under the posts to award the score. Another simple Shaughnessy conversion made it 20-0 and Wegians were already out of sight.
There was no respite for the luckless visitors, and just on the half-hour mark they conceded try number three. It followed an excellent chip and chase by winger Ronan Moore, who was desperately unlucky to knock on with the line at his mercy. However from the resulting five-metre put-in, Wegians’ hooker Conor Muldoon made a strike against the head, giving No 8 Dan McCabe the chance to barrel his way over the line near the left-hand corner. An excellent conversion from an in-form Shaughnessy made it 27-0.
At this stage a bonus point looked a formality, but the second half was a different game. Although reduced to 13 men at one stage, the visitors turned up in the second-half, putting in a decent performance in an attempt to salvage some pride. Their scrum began to settle and they finally began to benefit from refereeing decisions, albeit too late to impact the result. They started to run everything, but met another solid wall of Galwegian defence who were intent on holding firm.
Wegians, however, rarely got out of their own half and were showing little sign of getting the bonus point. But on 70 minutes it duly arrived courtesy of another piece of magic from Cleary. Substitute scrumhalf Caolin Blade created the opportunity with a blind-side break before supplying Cleary on halfway, who cut inside his man and raced home unopposed to seal the deal.
Galwegians: J Cleary, G Tynan, C Conroy, J Harrimate, R Moore, R Shaughnessy, B Lee, J Naughton, C Muldoon, J East, A Ryan, B McClearn, E Rooney, E Earle, D McCabe. Replacements, C Blade, C Lowndes, R Fitzgerald, D McHugh, J Dinneen.