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Galwegians Claim Top Spot In Division 1B

Galwegians Claim Top Spot In Division 1B

Galwegians – the only team to gain a try-scoring bonus point in the opening round – are the early pacesetters in Division 1B of the Ulster Bank League.

All four of their tries in a 25-17 triumph over Dublin University at Crowley Park were scored by backs as wingers Jerome Harimate and Matt Dever were joined on the scoresheet by centre Gary O'Brien and scrum half Caolin Blade.

'Wegians, now coached by Matt Brown and John Muldoon, got off to the perfect start with a try in the second minute. O'Brien took a flat pass from out-half Rory Parata at pace to scythe through the students' defence and score under the posts.

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Parata converted for a 7-0 lead and although he pulled a seventh minute penalty effort wide of the target, last season's Division 2A champions conjured up a superb 12th minute try.

They showed their potency in the backs, this time left winger Dever making an excellent break, drawing the cover before finding experienced full-back John Cleary who sent Harimate over in the right corner.

12-0 ahead and things looked very comfortable for the Blues, however new-look Trinity, who included ten debutants in their matchday squad, got right back into the game in the 18th minute when they opened their scoring account.

It followed their first meaningful attack when centre and captain Paddy Lavelle took a sweet reverse pass from out-half Jack McDermott to saunter in under the posts. McDermott converted to reduce arrears to 12-7.

In a typical season opener, the game was a scrappy affair littered with knock-ons and errors. Nonetheless, 'Wegians were dominating territory and possession and they looked the livelier side when attacking from broken play.

Parata stretched the lead to 15-7 with a penalty on the half hour following an excellent scrum shunt from his pack on the 22.

The crucial score came just before half-time when a long range Trinity clearance was fielded by Harrimate on half-way, and some excellent hands by the backs put captain for the day Brian Murphy racing clear inside the 22. And following more spade work by the forwards, Blade sniped over to touch down near the left corner flag for another excellent score, making it 22-7 at the break.

Any thoughts that the hosts would cruise to an easy bonus point victory were soon dispelled by a gritty Trinity who started the better team in the second half.

In the 48th minute Lavelle showed great determination to avoid the attentions of at least three defenders to somehow get over in the right corner for his second try, and at 22-12 it was game on again.

The stop-start nature of the game continued with knock-ons and turnovers a recurring feature. 'Wegians regained the initiative in the territory stakes, and Parata and Harimate both spurned gilt-edged chances to seal the bonus point, only to knock on with the line at their mercy.

Indeed, Brown's charges were fortunate not to concede a third try on the hour mark when an intercept by flanker Brian du Toit almost saw him get over in the corner – he was held up by some desperate defence.

The students' chances were not helped when winger Tim Maupin was sin-binned for a late tackle on Cleary, which allowed the hosts to regain territory. They eventually took advantage of the extra man when replacement Colin Conroy and Murphy combined well to set up Dever, who cut through the centre to score his third try in two games, sealing the all-important bonus point.

However, credit to the students who kept pressing, and when referee Oisin Quinn penalised the 'Wegians defence deep in injury-time, centre Conor Kearns finished off a move by scampering over to the right of the posts.

That gave the students a chance to salvage an unlikely bonus point, but despite being given two attempts by the referee, McDermott missed the target to send his team home empty-handed.

Referee: Oisin Quinn (IRFU)