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Galwegians Overhaul Harlequins With Five-Try Display

Galwegians Overhaul Harlequins With Five-Try Display

Galwegians consolidated their position at the summit of Ulster Bank League Division 1B with what was ultimately a comprehensive bonus point victory over Belfast Harlequins at Crowley Park.

Indeed, Harlequins had to face a second consecutive trip to Galway having been away to Corinthians the previous week, and they will not be sorry to see the back of Galway, once more returning empty-handed.

Galwegians head coach Matt Brown opted to rest some of his backline regulars, including the influential John Cleary, Brian Murphy and Gary O'Brien, with Rory Parata returning from injury to make his first Ulster Bank League appearance since the opening game against Dublin University.

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The Blues started the better and they looked the more likely to score, but full-back Ciaran Gaffney was off target with a long range early penalty attempt.

However, Harlequins strengthed their side from last week with some Ulster squad members starting for them, including lock Neil McComb and centre Michael Allen. And having weathered the early onslaught, they eventually settled and took the lead in the 10th minute with their first meaningful attack of the game.

Some poor handling by 'Wegians in the 'Quins half saw possession turned over, and following a good counter-attack, 'Quins full-back David McMaster was sent clear to touch down on the left, with out-half Mark Best converting for a 7-0 lead

This seemed to stun Galwegians who failed to heed the warning signs, and before the first quarter was even up, things went from bad to worse for the hosts.

Some sloppy possession play once again cost them in midfield, and an excellent cross-field kick by Best was fielded by winger Mark Glover, who evaded the attentions of two defenders all to easily to charge down the touchline and dive over near the right corner for a second try.

Although the conversion was wide, a shock seemed well on the cards as the bottom-placed side held a 12-0 lead over the league leaders.

'Wegians have proven resilience and character, though, having already overcome 22-0 and 10-0 deficits against local rivals Buccaneers and Corinthians earlier in the league campaign.

They finally upped the intensity in the second quarter, going on the offensive again and playing a territorial game. The pressure finally paid off when recalled left winger Matt Dever showed up on the opposite wing to collect a scoring pass and dive over for his side's opening try which was unconverted.

This energised the Blues, and with self belief restored a second try was soon to follow. Their dominant scrum was creating the platform and beginning to yield penalties.

Following an excellent line-kick deep to the corner, a well-worked lineout maul resulted in lock Marty Cummins crashing over for his first senior try for 'Wegians. Gaffney was again wide with the conversion, giving the visitors a slender 12-10 half-time lead.

'Wegians coaches Matt Brown and John Muldoon clearly had strong words with their charges at the break, as the Blues seriously upped the tempo in the second period.

They immediately took the game to their opponents and following some patient build-up play, a great break from prop Doron McHugh and a deft offload fed the supporting Cummins who ran in near the posts for his second try. Gaffney finally found his range with the conversion for a 17-12 scoreline.

It was a lead they would never relinquish, as they went on to completely dominate the third quarter. Their pack was now clearly in the ascendancy, creating further opportunities for their potent back-line.

Just after the hour mark, an excellent break from deep by centre Jerome Harimate brought play right up to the try-line. With the defensive cover sucked in, a few phases later 'Wegians replacement out-half Aidan Moynihan scampered over near the opposite corner to secure the bonus point. The young try scorer then landed an excellent conversion.

The visitors were not done, however, and they responded well only to be met by stern and resolute Blues defence who stoutly held their line and discipline.

The game was made safe for Brown's side on 73 minutes when another excellent break from deep, this time by scrum half Caolin Blade, saw him come within inches of scoring. But the damage was done and Moynihan was once again the beneficiary as he cut through a gap in impressive fashion to dive over for try number five which he duly converted.

Adam Larkin's charges did manage to get on the scoreboard late on when Allen crossed for their third try, which Best converted to reduce the gap to 31-19. But it proved to be a consolation score for 'Quins as time ran out on their attempts to salvaging something from the match.

Referee: Paul Haycock (IRFU)