O’Connell Cup Quarter Final – Old Wesley 32 Coolmine 19
A warm, cloudy day set the scene for what was to be a frustrating but ultimately successful day for the high-flying Wesley 3rds. The clouds cast a shadow over the pitch, but it was the thought of the shit shirts and crispy pints afterwards that cast the biggest shadow, in the minds of both players and coaches. Credit where credit is due however, as the right things were said in changing room by coaches and senior players (including the newly promoted Boydy), and the attitude was good from the start.
A kick off out on the full by Coolmine gave Wesley a midfield scrum and an immediate chance to attack. A period of pressure then ensued, including some good Wesley play coupled with some average Coolmine defence. The attack was spearheaded by a series of quick pick and goes around the fringes from what can only be described as an “athletic” forwards pack. Patience was the name of the game and after a few phases it paid off, with a beautiful assist coming from an unknown player and Mick Kearney crossing the white wash for first blood.
This try set the tone for the rest of the first half. A second Wesley try came soon after and was almost the same story, with the score from Tommy Emo coming in the form of a well-executed spike call. There was plenty of satisfaction to be taken from this, as it had been drilled into us by Warby in training on Wednesday; presumably because Monty and Brian hadn’t shown up and he didn’t know what else to do.
At this stage the forwards had shown what they could do, and it was now time for the backs to step up. Some good running lines coupled with some slick passing resulted in Luke Correll being released down the touchline, beating defenders and offloading to David Priesty, who had run a great support line and was rewarded with a meat pie. It was a big moment for Luke, although he didn’t know it yet, as the joy from the assist took the edge off witnessing his beloved England bottle it again in classic English style. 3 points from the boot of Tim Hawe wrapped up the scoring in the first half.
The second half started much like the 1st, with Wesley camped down in Coolmine’s half applying some sustained pressure. At this stage there was uncontested scrums, which had taken the sting out of the game a bit but did allow for the backs to do some damage. A midfield carry followed by a well-executed backs move allowed David Braithwaite to get free into some space, and in a move totally out of character he decided not to kick the ball and cantered in for a well-deserved yet rarely seen try. He was reminded of this is the pub after the match by senior player, Boydy, but was quick to point out that his one try this year is one more than Boydy has scored.
With a large lead now, Wesley were guilty of letting a little bit of complacency drift in. Some good set piece play and some weak defending allowed Coolmine to pull back two tries and although still a long way behind, they were now in with a sniff. It was a frustrating half of rugby to watch and to play in, with penalties being blown left right and centre, almost all of them going against Wesley, and some of them for rules that seemed to be made up on the spot. Frustrations were high, and in a move reminiscent of a toddler being told he can’t have a happy meal, Michael Triggs got on the wrong side of the referee and was yellow carded for the final 10 minutes. Again though, credit where credit is due, as the 14 players on the pitch dug deep and ground out the victory, with the final score finishing at 32-19. It was a frustrating end to the game for Wesley, however the team could take solace in the knowledge that a shit shirt night lay ahead of them, except for Eric Parfrey, who hadn’t got the shit shirt memo and instead showed up in his normal Saturday night attire.