20s one step away from League and Cup Double

20s one step away from League and Cup Double after Galwegians win

Purcell Cup Semi Final – Old Wesley 24 Galwegians 14

It was a fine Saturday afternoon in Crowley Park as the Old Wesley 20s looked to make it 16 wins in a row and reach the final of the Purcell Cup, coming up against Galwegians.

The game started off frantic, with both teams getting their hands on the ball early, Galwegians being the more dominant of the two in the early collisions. The first score of the game came after an overthrown lineout from ‘Wegians fell into the hands of Stephen Keane, who made significant yards to bring Wesley into the Galwegians half.  The ball was recycled and 10, Gary Hawe, gave the show and go to split the defence and run underneath the posts. Cam Watson converted and Wesley were up 7-0 with 5 minutes gone. For the next 15 minutes, ‘Wegians attacked Wesley with intent however, the Dubliner’s defence held firm and went on the attack again, winning a penalty in the Galway side’s half.  Wes opted for the posts but however missed. From the 22 dropout, Wesley’s turned on the style with some brilliant interplay between Stephen Keane and Jake Brownell, who eventually got the ball to Eoin Deegan.  He in turn put Watson through a gap, bursting into the ‘Wegians 22, with only the full back to beat.  Watson turned to his right only to see Captain Shane O’Hanrahan and put him in for a try. Watson converted and Wesley were 14-0 up with 20 gone.

Now in the driving street, Wesley had a serious opportunity to put the game to bed if they got the next try. However, handling errors and lack of accuracy at both the breakdown and lineout meant that Wesley didn’t convert their chances. Galwegians looked to capitalise on this and did, with relentless pressure. They eventually made it to the Wesley 5 metre and won the penalty for Bill Corrigan slowing the ball down at the break down; who was shown a yellow card. Now down to 14, Wesley then had the job of defending a 5 metre scrum. From the scrum ‘Wegians targeted the 13 channel, left empty in Corrigan’s absence and went under the posts. 14-7. Wesley had a game on their hands. With the penalty count and handling errors totting up, Wesley found themselves on the back foot. ‘Wegians put immense pressure on Wesley at scrum-time and from another scrum they went over the line, in the corner; and with a superb conversion they tied the game up going into the break. Half time 14-14.

Wesley needed a bright start in the second half and they sure got it, with some incredible back play.  Eoin Deegan threw an offload to Cameron Watson who put Harry Shaw through for a crucial try. 19-14, 5 minutes into the second half. From the restart Wesley again showed some incredible attacking play, with Sam Kenny, Cormac Izuchukwu and Zak Bursey making inroads into the ‘Wegians half. A head injury to Eoghan Copeland brought play to a halt, as Wesley began to make subs; Luke Sweeney and Zain McClathcie Ombina coming on for Harry Shaw and Evan Stephenson on the wings, Fergus Noonan being introduced for Jake Brownell, and Callum ‘Big Man’ Kavanagh coming on for Copey. Time back on and Wesley immediately get pinged for a high tackle, the ref brandishing a yellow card this time to Gary Hawe; again Wesley reduced to 14 and ‘Wegians again, started to make inroads. Targeting Wesley at scrum time, the penalty count continued to add up and front rows were told they were on last warnings. ‘Wegians attacked and were held up over the line. The scrum suited them and they opted for it, however the ref deemed that the tight head lost his footing, and Wesley won the penalty; a moment that would seem defining in the outcome.  Fionn O’Loughlin comes on for Hawe following the sin bin time up.

Wesley began to make their way back up the pitch with Izzy making some important carries.  However, handling errors let Wesley down once again and from the resulting scrum, Big Man is penalised for angling in and shown a yellow, Wesley’s 3rd time of the afternoon. Wesley were down to 14 with fifteen minutes left. Opting for the lineout this time, ’Wegians brought play up to their 10 metre but Wesley forced the error.  Scrum down, Wesley ball. Dave Young deputised in the absence of Big Man at loose head and held the scrum well as Captain Shane O’Hanrahan picked the ball from the base of the scrum.  He chipped over the top and retrieved the ball to go over the line; the visitor’s dug out erupting in the process. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. 8 minutes to go, Wesley lead 24-14.

As the game restarted it seemed Wesley just couldn’t manage to look after the ball or keep their discipline as Galwegians once again knocked on the door. What followed was a succession of penalties against each other as Galwegains pushed for a late comeback. However it was left too late and the final whistle blew.  24-14 win for the visitors and a place booked in the final with St. Mary’s next weekend; an opportunity to finish the season with a double and unbeaten.

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