Sunday’s Well 55, Galway Corinthians 13.
However the season turns out in the end, last Saturday was a glorious one for Sunday’s Well as they produced a performance full of grit, determination, style, power and pace to earn their first five-pointer of the season. Those who were present were witness to a thrilling display of rugby by the Cork side as they ran in eight tries and could very well have had more. It was a great all-round team effort with plenty of sublime individual displays. After 11 losses; most of them in a very narrow manner that could have gone either way it was the very least the players deserved; as they kept their focus and plugging away throughout the season.We will get to where this leave things in the table later. First to Saturday. The ‘Well were boosted with the return of several key players. Conor O’Brien; who picked up his first injury at Corinthians returned to the back-row as did Sean Glynn who missed out on last week’s game. Cormac Kelliher could very well be deemed to be unfortunate to be on the bench having been an outstanding player in the past few weeks; but he would still have a major role to play.
Peter O’Brien came into out-half while the powerful Ryan Buckley returned just outside him into the centre. It was a strong ‘Well outfit and also saw them able to have a strong bench who could have an impact later on in the game.
The ‘Well played towards the Tramore Road end in the first-half. Their opponents were looking to play an open expansive running game and had many dangerous strike runners out wide. They ran from deep; but a crucial facet of the ‘Well’s performance in the first-half was their aggressive defence. They didn’t back off and managed to create crucial turnovers in attacking positions. The first allowed them a penalty that Brian Derham struck over the crossbar. Corinthians then produced a concentrated attack; with Derham making a high-tackle that saw him yellow-carded and Simon Keller levelled the scores.
Despite being down a man; the ‘Well controlled games. Having won some penalties they kicked to the corner. A smart maul was set-up off the line-out and having set their positions; the ‘Well produced a strong secondary drive. At the back of the maul was Willie McCarthy who maintained a low position and held onto his pack to touch-down although the scoreboard operator did get briefly confused in the ensuing excitement.
An even bigger feature of the match occurred from the ensuing restart. Sean Glynn jumped high to claim a well placed kick-off and he was taken out in the air by Conor O’Sulivan. In fairness to O’Sullivan; it was probably more clumsy than malicious but with Glynn taking an awkward fall having been hit at the high point of his job; it was a red-card under the new laws and directives.
The ‘Well continued to press. Ryan Buckley was having an outstanding game in the centre; bursting through tackles and carrying several players with him. He almost got over but Corinthians eventually managed to halt the attack by winning a penalty. The kick to touch was kept in play by James Kiernan who palmed the ball back into play towards his team-mates. The ball went loose and a great chase by Michael O’Reilly saw him hack the ball forward and the ‘Well had to concede a line-out in their own 22. Corinthians spread the ball out and powered towards the line with a gab eventually opening up for Matthew Burke and Keller’s conversion put the visitors into a 10-8 lead.
It was a blow but the ‘Well kept their focus. A knock-on let Corinthians have a defensive scrum outside their 22. They claimed the ball cleanly but Arigho pounced over his opposite number and forced a turnover with Sean Keohane on hand to carry the ball up to the line. The ‘Well recycled possession and spread out to the opposite side. They almost ran out of space before Ryan Buckley burst his way inside for the score with Derham converting. The last action of the half saw Keller kick a penalty to leave the half-time score at 15-13.While it was tight on the scoreline; the ‘Well would have been pleased to be ahead and also halfway towards the try bonus-point. They came out strongly in the second-half and used the pack to set up the platform. They were able to work the ball downfield and another excellent line-out maul saw Owen Glynn touch down. Then persistent pressure saw the bonus-point wrapped up at around the 55 minute mark as they sent runner after runner close to the line before Michael Moynihan made his typical powerful burst to secure that point.With the bonus point sealed and the lead extended out to 14 points; the ‘Well began to open up. They were able to bring fresh legs off the bench while James Kiernan and Peter O’Brien continued to make strong powerful runs. Paddy Hegarty came on in the backs and had an amazing impact; with a number of dazzling runs; one leading to a try for himself while another even better run from his own half saw him break through tackles; circle opponents and run straight through gaps. He was finally caught short but Cormac Kelliher was on hand to receive the off-load for the try of the game; and his second. Sean Glynn also made his way over earlier and the ‘Well; knowing the vital of points difference continued to press; whilst maintaining a strong disciplined defence to ensure no points were conceded at the other end.
They looked as if they were set to break the 60 point mark as they pounded the line at the death and Ryan Buckley powered his way over. He fell on his back and tried to wriggle over but was adjuged to be held up. That didn’t spoil a magnificent day and fantastic performance with a result that was long overdue.Scorers: Sunday’s Well: W McCarthy, R Buckley, O Glynn, M Moynihan, P Hegarty, S Glynn, C Kelliher (2) tries; B Derham pen, 6 cons.
Galway Corinthians: M Burke try; S Keller 2 pens, con.Sunday’s Well: B Derham; S Keohane, C Jouve (c), R Buckley, J Kiernan; P O’Brien, P Arigho; M Moynihan, W McCarthy, E O’Connell; O Glynn, S Desmond; J Mulcahy, C O’Brien, S Glynn. Replacements: R Linehan, C Axson, J Barnes, C Kelliher, P Hegarty.
Galway Corinthians: M McDermott; C O’Sullivan, C Evans, F Gormley, M O’Reilly; S Keller, R Guilfoyle; M Burke, J Moloney (c), C Hansberry; C Raferty, A Broderick; R Murphy, M O’Brien, N Harrison. Replacements: J Noone, M Connelly, E Whyte, J Byrne, C Brennan.
Referee: P Haycock (IRFU)
Despite that result; the ‘Well still remain bottom of the table. Elsewhere; Belfast Harlequins managed to squeak out a 10-8 win over Dungannon; having being 10-0 up at half-time with two tries. The ‘Well are now four points off Harlequins with an identical points difference now. The sides clash on April 6th at Irish Independent Park in a game the ‘Well have to win. Bonus points could also prove crucial and it should be a real big game. Harlequins will be fired up and battle hardened but the ‘Well squad have shown their abilities not just in this win but several earlier games. They will hope for a big support.
Our most likely hope is to overtake Harlequins that day which will probably mean we need to beat Sligo away on the last day, with the Connacht side almost assured of a promotion play-off spot. Harlequins host Corinthians who are eight points ahead of us and not out of trouble yet; while even Wanderers, Skerries and Dungannon could feasibly be caught. There is a slight chance of avoiding a play-off spot altogether; but that would need several results to go our way. Still there is a long way to go and all that can be done now is to focus on a massive game with Harlequins in two weeks.