IT was far from pretty but on a miserable windswept day at Musgrave Park it was only the victory that mattered for Sunday’s Well against a stubborn Bruff side.
Having lost in the final few minutes in the reverse fixture, the Well would have feared the same happening having led for 75 minutes. They were pinned deep inside in their own 22 late on but managed to hold out and managed to secure four valuable points.
This was only one of only two games in Division 2C of the Energia All Ireland League that went ahead. The win puts the Well on the fringes of the play-off spot as they go level with fourth-placed Omagh who have a game in hand.
Still, they are only six points above City of Derry in the relegation play-off spot so it is still very much all to play for.
With the wind behind them, the Well got off to a perfect start. After winning a penalty inside the Bruff 22 they produced a magnificent driving maul but were held up on the line. They did earn another penalty; from which they ran it and Jonathon Gardiner raced onto a pass; powering his way over the line. Brian Derham’s conversion attempt bounced back off the upright.
After such a great start the Well struggled to build on the momentum. A series of penalties for high tackles allowed Bruff to build their way into the game. The visitors were piling pressure on the line but the Well’s defence stood firm; albeit illegally so. Andrew O’Byrne slotted over a penalty under the posts to reduce the gap.
Bruff continued to apply pressure and had more chances on the 22. The defence led by the likes of Conor O’Brien and Shane Desmond held them at bay, and with the slippery ball proving difficult to handle; there would be an inevitable knock-on to end many of the attacks.
The hosts did surge back into the game for the final few minutes of the first-half; with the inspirational Ryan Buckley bursting forward. He set up an opportunity that saw the Well drive over the line but they couldn’t get the ball down and the score remained at 5-3 at half-time.
Despite playing into the wind in the second-half the Well were more comfortable defensively. Bruff rarely got into the 22 and it was the Well who scored with 15 minutes remaining as Brian Derham slotted over a penalty.
The final few minutes were played close to the Well line. For the most part; they maintained possession and were able to run the clock down and earn another crucial home victory.
J Gardiner try, B Derham pen.
A O’Byrne pen
B Derham; R O’Keeffe, E Geary (c), R Buckley, J Kiernan; B Pope, P Arigho; E O’Connell, J Barry, I Murphy; J Barnes, J Gardiner; S Desmond, C Jouve, C O’Brien.
M Moynihan, C Kelliher, G O’Sullivan, D Lacey, J Ruiz-Herrera.
T O’Callaghan; S D’Arcy, J O’Grady, J Simpson-Te Pari, G Whelan; A O’Byrne, C Clifford; B Bulfin, J Clery, K O’Dwyer; B Morrissey, T Jones; S Hartigan, C Fitzpatrick, C Rea, T Quigley.
T Quigley, D Barrett, T O’Dwyer, D O’Leary, L Treacy.
G Crabtree (IRFU).