NUIG Rugby pictured in the new College jerseys and gear, after defeating Galwegians 46-8 to go top of the league

NUIG Rugby remain unbeaten in the league this season after a well-deserved bonus point 46-8 victory away to Galwegians in Crowley Park. The home team started very well, controlling possession and keeping College pinned inside their own half. Wegians’ continued intensity and pressure finally yielded the dividend of a penalty, after College were penalised for straying offside at the breakdown. The Galwegians’ fly-half expertly dispatched the place kick into the strong breeze. After the restart, Galwegians continued their general dominance of play. However, led by inspirational captain, scrum-half Jack O’Callaghan, College defended stoutly, and on a number of occasions last ditch tackling prevented Galwegians from crossing the College line. 

Of particular note at this pivotal stage in the game were the performances of man-of-the-match, winger Mattie Kavanagh and full-back Ross Tiernan who put in well timed hits to prevent Galwegians from scoring what could have been game-changing tries. Having weathered the storm and soaked up intense pressure for the opening twenty minutes, the College forwards started to take the game more to Galwegians, and following some good interplay between backs and forwards, the College backs got some good possession to work off of. The ball was released to the backs just outside the Galwegians’ 22 and good handling enabled second centre James Kennedy to break on the outside before he released Kavanagh who flew in for the game’s opening try. However, with the significant breeze at their backs, College’s slender 5-3 lead after 30 minutes seemed hardly sufficient, especially if Galwegians could continue to impose their game on NUIG. College’s next opportunity for a try came after great work again by the pack, led by pack leader Luke Murphy, and loose forwards Ronan Mulloy, Adam Brady, Max Sale and Ross Stapleton. Fast ball to the backs enabled fly-half Tony Hall to chip over the rush defence and as impressive centre Kennedy was winning the footrace to the touchdown, he was impeded and College were awarded with a penalty under the posts. Another of College’s standout backs Alex Kirwan slotted the kick and NUIG extended their lead to 8-3. College then struck for a crucial score just before the half-time whistle, when excellent offloading play from the forwards created the space for the supporting Kennedy to step the cover and touch down out wide. The impressive Kirwan slotted the tricky conversion. College turned around at half time leading by 15-3, which seemed tenuous enough, especially considering the strength of the breeze and increasingly wet conditions they would have to face in the second half.

However, after initial sustained pressure from Galwegians, the College forwards turned over possession in a maul, and Brady was able to find Hall who threw a large skip pass to Kirwan. The winger showed his vision and speed to outpace the defence on the outside and run in from all of 60 metres. He duly converted his own try, and College were now leading 22-3. Galwegians had a number of enforced substitutions due to injury, and this allied to the momentum and space that College were now generating, meant that further tries followed. The platform was laid by great work from the College forwards who were now in the ascendancy, in both the set piece and out of touch. Colin Lawlor, Conor Gantly, Rob Conneely, Brian Carey and Shane Ryan in particular all impressed. The next score for College came when Brady, who exploited a weakness in the Wegian’s pillar defence, burst through at the breakdown to score next to the posts. Kirwan converted Brady’s classic loose forward try. To their credit, Galwegians did not give up and replied with a well worked try of their own, to reduce the margin somewhat. However, with the game entering its final quarter, College were dominating in most facets of play, and with Conor Dennehy and Jason O’Halloran especially prominent, they added three further tries, contributed by talisman Sale, impressive centre Steve Butler and wing three-quarter Ruari Kehoe-Clarke, who topped off a fine move that had started deep inside the College half.

Overall, another solid team display by NUIG, one which puts them top of the league, where they have scored 21 tries in two games. The coaches, Pete Small, Justin Conboy and Tom O’Regan will be especially happy as College were missing key players on the day, including Club Captain, Darragh O’Loughlin. Credit is due to both teams who both tried to play attacking, creative rugby in less than ideal, wet and windy conditions. NUIG Rugby v Galwegians RFC: Conor Gantly, Luke Murphy, Rob Conneely, Colin Lawlor, Ronan Mulloy, Adam Brady, Ross Stapleton, Max Sale, Jack O’Callaghan (c), Tony Hall, Mattie Kavanagh, Steve Butler, James Kennedy, Alex Kirwan, Ross Tiernan, Jason O’Halloran, Shane Galvin, Ruairi Kehoe-Clarke, Shane Ryan, Eoin Savage, Conor Dennehy.

NUIG Galwegians680

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