On a bitterly cold day, NUIG-Corinthians turned up the heat on their local rivals, Galwegians, with a thumping eight try victory at Cloonacauneen Road.
Despite the lop-sided scoreline, it was the visitors who dictated the tempo of the match in the opening ten minutes, kicking for territory and squeezing the home side.
After some sloppy play in their own 22, NUIG-Corinthians were pinged by the referee for going off their feet at the ruck and the Galwegians’ flyhalf made no mistake from the kicking tee to hand the away side an early 3-0 lead.
‘Wegians were playing the better rugby at this stage and if it hadn’t been for an outstanding cover tackle by fullback, David McDermott, on the opposing scrumhalf it could have been worse for the home team.
The home outfit eventually drew blood when outside centre, Dwayne Corcoran, touched down.
Corcoran made a huge hit in midfield which effected a turnover for his team. The ball made its way to openside flanker, Marc Kelly, who produced a deft offload to Corcoran, who had somehow managed to get involved in the play again and the centre powered away from two would be tacklers for the score.
Corcoran had to take a drop goal conversion as the kicking tee had been left in the changing room. He missed but the home team were in front. (5-3)
The second try of the match came a few minutes later. With the home side controlling the scrum, the ball was whipped out to Corcoran who made a bust up the midfield.
Quick ruck ball was provided to scrumhalf, Finn O’Grady, who spread it wide and after excellent take and give passes, the ball reached McDermott on the wing and the fullback displayed great strength to touch down in at the corner.
From the touchline, Corcoran was unsuccessful with his conversion attempt. (10-3)
NUIG-Corinthians’s tactic of holding onto the pill instead of booting it away was paying real dividends.
McDermott fielded a punt and set off on the counterattack. He popped the ball up for wing, Joss Murray, who made good yardage.
O’Grady then passed to Kelly and the flanker broke through ‘Wegians’ line into the opposing 22. Kelly then offloaded to hooker, Michael O’Connell and the number 2 held off the defence to go in under the posts.
Corcoran made no mistake from the ground and slotted the conversion to hand the home side a healthy 17-3 advantage.
The Cloonacauneen Road side were now in control of the match but an aspect of their play which was not solid was their reception of kick-offs. The away side won a penalty after the home team had failed to take the kick-off and they punted to the corner.
However, if the home outfit’s kick-off receptions were not of top standard, their defence certainly was and ‘Wegians drive to the whitewash was repelled by an unbreakable line and NUIG-Corinthians were able to clear their lines after a turnover.
The fourth try of the game was the result of excellent back play by the home team. From a lineout, dummy runners were used and the ball was shipped wide to McDermott. The number 15 made a big gain and chipped ahead.
Galwegians managed to scrambled across and recover possession. But poor control at the base of the ruck from the away team, allowed the ball to squirt loose and over the try line.
O’Connell was the first man to react and the hooker bagged himself another try. Corcoran, from a tight angle, was not able to add the extras and the scoreboard read 22-3 to NUIG-Corinthians.
The home team’s running and offloading game was outstanding; Galwegians simply had no answer to it.
Loosehead prop, Shane Faulkner, made a terrific break in midfield and passed onto Peter Claffey, wearing five but playing at blindside flanker. Claffey charged towards the line but only desperate away defending kept the home side at bay.
However, it wasn’t long until NUIG-Corinthians were celebrating a fifth try. After earning a put-in at the scrum, the home side’s pack provided a stable platform for the backs. O’Grady moved the ball onto flyhalf, Cathal Evans and the flyhalf put Corcoran through a gap to give the outside his second try of the match.
The centre converted the try and the referee blew for halftime with NUIG-Corinthians in command. (29-3).
In the second half it was expected that the home team would really cut loose and put the visitors to the sword. But to their credit Galwegians put up a real fight in the third quarter and the scores remained the same until flanker, Marc Kelly, got a deserved try.
From a penalty, ‘Wegians missed their kick to touch and winger, Murray, attacked. After a number of phases replacement hooker, Hugh O’Donnell, received possession.
O’Donnell set on a rampaging run that Séan O’Brien would have been proud of as he busted through the away team’s defence. He passed to Kelly, who forced his way over the try line despite some valiant efforts by the visitors to contain him.
Corcoran was off target from the ground with his conversion effort and the score was 34-3 in favour to the home side.
The seventh try was something to behold. NUIG- Corinthians had a scrum five metres out after the referee had adjudged that Corcoran had been held up over the line.
A stable set-piece allowed clean ball for the backs. Flyhalf, Evans, received and executed a pinpoint cross field kick which allowed right wing, Patrick Griffin, to brilliantly catch and score in one movement whilst keeping himself in the field of play.
Corcoran once again had a difficult kick and unfortunately for him his effort clipped the post and went wide but the Cloonacauneen Road men had an insurmountable lead. (39-3).
NUIG-Corinthians’s eighth and final try came off another solid scrum. A dummy move facilitated Corcoran to stroll over underneath the posts untouched for his hat-trick.
He converted the try to leave the scores at 46-3 and that was the way it finished at the full time whistle.
NUIG-Corinthians Coach, Ciaran Dunne, said after the match that he was delighted with the bonus point win but did concede that he was apprehensive with his team’s start, “They (Galwegians) started off well and put us under pressure for the first fifteen minutes and I was nervous because we weren’t getting into the match. But the players soon settled and started to deliver.”
Up next for NUIG-Corinthians is a home match against Nenagh Ormond RFC.
15 David McDermott, 14 Patrick Griffin, 13 Dwayne Corcoran, 12 Philip Murphy, 11 Joss Murray, 10 Cathal Evans, 9 Finn O’Grady, 1 Shane Faulkner, 2 Micahel O’Campbell, 3 Craig Hansberry, 4 Thomas Fegan, 18 Ian Kilcoyne, 5 Peter Claffey, 7 Marc Kelly, 8 Roy Stanley
16 Hugh O’Donnell, 17 Morgan Conneely, 6 Aaron Broderick, 19 Michael Donohue, 20 Conor O’Sullivan, 21 Samuel Casburn-Trahan, 22 Josh Foley
By Matt Cassidy