Under 20s Premiership – Old Wesley 31 MU Barnhall 14
It was more like a job well done than a sense of relief as the final whistle sounded in Energia Park this afternoon. On a day that had the full 4 seasons contained in 80 minutes the much improved Old Wesley u20s took command of their destiny in Prem 1 with a fine win over MU Barnhall 31-14.
From the kick off the home team’s intensity was at its best level this season typified by a great steal by Stephen Keane on Barnhall’s first lineout. With just 5 minutes on the clock a fine move started by outhalf William Seale and a break by Leo Wolf who stepped through the defence put Eoin Deegan away for the opening try. Wolf converts the try and Old Wesley lead 7-0.
Following the restart and more pressure from speedster Jack Kennedy breaking the line, some snappy forward play led to Leo Wolf crashing over for the second try which he converts himself. The sunshine from the start of the match has been replaced with hail stones and its 14-0 after 10 minutes.
The benefit of a solid scrum platform, with Daniel Wolf and Sam Illo providing the foundations for the set piece, meant that on several occasions the option for the scrum penalty was testament to the confidence of this platform to allow attacking moves to take place. It was from such a platform that firstly saw a fine solo effort by Daniel Thompson who was just held up short but the hard work paid off and on 25 minutes the 20s struck again. This time it was great work by Jack Hunt who powered around the outside and finished off in the corner for our 3rd try. The score progressed to 19-0 with the conversion just short from a difficult angle.
For the last 10 minutes of the first half and for the 1st 10 minutes of the second half, Barnhall took more control of the game and to their credit muscled their way over for a try which they converted shortly after the break. The score moved to 19-7 and for the next 15 minutes most of the game was played between both 22s with both sides struggling to get past the solid defences that both teams put out. With Wesley’s bench beginning to make an impact with Andrew Vincent in for the injured Harry Shaw, Andrew Warner in for Dan Dooley, who had another strong performance and Gary Hawe coming in for William Seale at outside half. It was shortly after this swap at outhalf that saw Wesley score its 4th and most crucial try following strong carries from the pack.
Wesley were unlucky not to have had the 4th try earlier with a break from Jack Hunt that finished with him stretching over the line, but the decision was not to award the try due to a double movement. Undaunted Wesley continued to push hard to the line but the Barnhall defence stayed strong. Further substitutions saw Dylan Kiara come on for Sam Illo, Andrew Ross come on for Leo Wolf and Will Stoten come on for the ever menacing Tim Perry. The final substitution saw the return of team captain Dave Young, who has been side-lined for 3 months, making his welcomed return to replace the dynamo that is Robert Byrne.
Liam Crowley finished off Wesley’s scores for the afternoon with another impressive solo try and this time Leo Wolf, who came back on for the injured Andrew Vincent was able to add the extras to make the score 31-7 with 10 minutes left. The final few minutes saw the HS Pot Noodle Player of the Match, Brian Short, get yellow carded close to our own line and shortly afterwards Barnhall got the final score of the afternoon with a converted try, 31-14 at full time.
The result sees Old Wesley now move up to 6th place with one game left to play away next week to Clontarf, knowing that a victory there would guarantee our place in Prem 1 for next season. Thanks again for all our support at Donnybrook throughout the season and to Deryck Vincent and Thomas O’Brien for their photos and Social Media coverage, which is as always much appreciated.
Click here for photos by Deryck Vincent