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Galwegians Maintain Bonus Point-Winning Form

Galwegians Maintain Bonus Point-Winning Form

Galwegians maintained their perfect start to their Division 1B campaign with a second consecutive bonus point victory, this time away to Shannon on Thomond Park’s back pitch.

However, Matt Brown's men were almost caught napping when a late surge by the hosts saw them come within a whisker of snatching the most unlikely of victories.

Played in perfect conditions, both sides had early chances to score with penalties. Out-half Dave Clarke was off target in second minute for 'Wegians, however his Shannon counterpart Tadhg Bennett was successful with a fifth minute attempt.

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Bennett, the Shannon captain, missed an opportunity to double the lead when he dragged a 15th minute penalty wide of the posts.

Galwegians eventually began to assert themselves, and they served notice of their intentions when last season's Division 2A Player of the Year Jerome Harimate scored the opening try, which was converted by Clarke for a 7-3 lead.

Shannon tried to get back into the game and were threatening the line, but some good 'Wegians defence held them at bay.

Arguably the turning point of the game came on the half hour mark when a loose pass was intercepted by the in-form Matt Dever, and the left winger made the most of his opportunity to gallop home from inside his own half to score his second try in as many league outings.

Clarke again added the extras, and suddenly the Blues were 14-3 clear and looking good. But Bennett added a second penalty just before the break to reduce the deficit to eight points.

'Wegians made a great start to the second period when they once more underlined their attacking potency with Harrimate claiming his second try of the afternoon, which was unconverted for a 19-6 scoreline.

This rattled Ian Sherwin's charges who suddenly looked unable to cope with the 'Wegians attack. The Blues dominated the third quarter and went in search of the killer bonus point, and it duly arrived before the hour mark when centre Brian Murphy charged through to score with Clarke converting.

The Galway outfit were seemingly out of sight, but the round 2 fixture started to get messy and the visitors were soon reduced to 14 men for the second time in the contest by referee Will O'Connor.

Shannon took advantage and they finally managed to cross the whitewash courtesy of a 68th minute try by Ciaran Cunnane – their first of the season, which Bennett converted to peg it back to 26-13.

'Wegians responded well with a penalty by Clarke in the 72nd minute to give a sixteen-point cushion, however there was to be some late unexpected drama as Brown's side took their foot off the gas, and to their credit Shannon went in search of salvaging something from the contest.

The hosts got over for their second try in the 77th minute, second row Ruairi O'Donnell claiming the touchdown after a clearance kick was blocked down.

Then another two late yellow cards meant 'Wegians had to finish with just 13 men, and in injury-time winger Conor Cunnane scored a third try for Shannon. This was converted by Bennett to reduce the margin to just four points.

Incredibly, it looked like a dramatic late 'smash and grab' win was on the cards. But time ran out on Shannon's courageous comeback and the Blues deservedly held on to claim the five points.

Referee: Will O'Connor (IRFU)