Prop Doron McHugh’s third try of the Ulster Bank League season proved decisive for Division 1B leaders Galwegians in their hard-fought 10-6 win at Garryowen this afternoon.
It was third hosting first at Dooradoyle and Garryowen took a 13th minute lead thanks to a penalty from out-half Jamie Gavin, which took his tally for the league campaign to 70 points.
An early head injury to Brian Murphy unsettled Galwegians slightly, but a classy line-break from his centre partner Gary O’Brien and a spell of pressure from the forwards saw the visitors go close to scoring.
Loose passing and a suffocating Garryowen defence kept ‘Wegians scoreless until the 44th minute when John Cleary landing a long range penalty, with the floodlights turned on as the sky darkened overhead.
The sudden loss of full-back Alex Wootton, who was red carded for foul play, left Garryowen under all sorts of pressure and ‘Wegians quickly took control. Barry Lee’s touchfinder set up a lineout and in-form front rower Doron McHugh was driven over from the resulting maul, with Cleary converting.
But the home side were in no mood to fold, with a penalty from Gavin – straight in front of the posts, entering the final quarter – closing the gap back to four points. There was another twist when Galwegians’ influential lock Brian McClearn saw yellow, but Matt Brown’s men dug their heels in to see out a deserved victory.
Shannon picked up just their second victory in five league games as out-half and captain Tadhg Bennett booted them to a 12-10 success at home to Malone.
Two well-struck penalties from Bennett (pictured below) after 15 and 25 minutes edged the hosts in front at Coonagh, and he added a third six minutes before the break.
A sin-binning for Malone, who face Ballynahinch in next Wednesday’s Ulster Senior Cup final, left them short-handed but out-half Neil Burns finished off a 37th minute try to get them off the mark.
Centre Josh Pentland converted to reduce the arrears to 9-7 for half-time and he also slotted a 53rd minute penalty following the sin-binning of Shannon flanker Brian Downey.
But Bennett replied in the 61st minute to restore Shannon’s advantage and Ian Sherwin’s side held on in determined fashion, staying in front as Malone pushed a couple of late penalty attempts wide.
It was an important win for Shannon ahead of their December 19 derby clash with Garryowen, with Bennett and his team-mates lifting themselves into eighth spot.
Meanwhile, Dublin University’s enviable run of results continued up north at Deramore Park where they took a 27-13 verdict against Belfast Harlequins, bagging a bonus point in the process.
Trinity have now gone six matches without defeat in Division 1B – five wins and a draw – and their latest triumph included a brace of tries each from influential full-back Conor Kearns and one each from Nick McCarthy and Jack McDermott. The latter, growing in stature at out-half, also kicked four points with his points haul for the season now standing at 67.
Ballymena ended Buccaneers’ three-match winning streak as they solidified their second place standing with a 23-8 win at Dubarry Park.
Back row duo Stephen Mulholland and Mike McComish both touched down with full-back Sean Taylor also running in a try for the Braidmen, who remain seven points behind ‘Wegians at the summit.
UL Bohemians won for the first time in seven league games as they got the better of hosts Corinthians, winning 14-12 in Galway this afternoon.
Trailing 7-0 at the interval, Bohs looked in trouble when winger Darin Claasen ran in an intercept try for a 12-0 scoreline. Crucially though, Corinthians failed to add the conversion.
UL managed to hit back with late tries from half-backs Craig Miller and Shane Airey, with the latter importantly converting both to secure his side’s first Division 1B success since September.