AIL – OLD WESLEY 35 BALLYNAHINCH 32
With a 4pm kick-off at Donnybrook on a balmy still evening, perfect for rugby, Old Wesley and Ballynahinch took to the field for this the fourth match in this seasons Division 1B of the Ulster Bank League.
Old Wesley started the game on the attack and after just four minutes they took the lead with a try by second row Mark Robinson, which was converted by Barry McLaughlin. However, from the re-start Ballynahinch started to run the ball but the Old Wesley defence stood firm with Stynes and Cassidy putting in excellent tackles to force a knock on, which enabled Wesley to relieve the pressure. But back came Ballynahinch and after ten minutes their hooker Andrew Harpur showed his power to go over for their first try of the match, which was converted by Stephen McCauley to bring the scores level. Old Wesley went back on the attack again and were awarded a penalty which the reliable McLaughlin put between the posts to regained the lead for the home side. However, immediately from the kick-off Wesley were penalised and McCauley was again successful to bring the sides level at 10pts all after just 15 minutes. This was now turning into a very attractive game with both sides intent on playing a high tempo open game which was ably assisted by Mr Elia Rizzo, the Italian referee, who allowed the game to flow throughout to the delight of the spectators.
Wesley then went back on the attack again and showed excellent continuity with backs and forwards inter-passing, which resulted in Ger Finucane going over for Wesley’s second try of the afternoon. The ever dependable McLaughlin converted. Yet again from the kick off, Ballynahinch came back and after a period of sustained pressure were awarded a penalty in-front of the post which McCauley again converted to bring the score to 17-13 with 22 minutes on the clock. For the remainder of the half both sides continued to play open running rugby but the defences held firm. A feature of the first half was the excellent Old Wesley scrummaging and when you consider, that the first three second rows McGann, Dunleavy and Hinde were unavailable, it is a testimony to the young Aaron Browne, making his debut at this level, and Mark Robinson as to how they performed. Apart from the scrums they were both showed up well in the lineout and Browne was to the fore in both rucks and mauls and was not afraid to take the ball into contact with good effect on a number of occasions. Robinson also had a fine game especially in the loose where his handling and passing were a feature of his play.
From the restart the game continued to be open and fast moving with Old Wesley the first to go on the attack. Kenny Knaggs, made a fine run and when Ballynahinch strayed offside, Ger Finucane saw the opportunity to take a quick tap penalty and went over for Old Wesley’s third and his second try of the afternoon. Again McLaughlin duly obliged with the conversion. With the score at 24 – 13 to Wesley and Ballynahinch forced to make two substitutions with outhalf Ross Carlisle and winger Stephen McCauley having to leave the field through injury it looked as if Old Wesley would run out easy winners. However this did not turn out to be the case. Shortly after coming on James McBriar at outhalf and Jordan Grattan who slotted in at outside centre showed great pace and with hard running centre Stuart Morrow coming more into the game, it was not long before they started to open the Wesley defence which resulted in a try by McBriar which he himself converted. With the score now 24 -20 to Wesley, Knaggs, arguably having his best game in a Wesley jersey won a turnover and with a great turn of pace ran some 20 yards. The ball then found its way to Stephen Boyle who made a great run eluding a last ditch tackle by McBriar to score in the corner. McLaughlin narrowly missed the conversion. With the score now at 29-20 to Wesley and entering the last twenty minutes Grattan was in support of another fine break by Morrow to score under the post. McBriar missed the convertion. Almost immediately Ballynahich came roaring back and again some strong running by both Morrow and McGrattan saw McBriar in support to go over for his second try and this time he made no mistake with the conversion and Ballynahinch were now in the lead for the first time by 32-29. To their great credit Old Wesley regrouped and regained their composure, tightened their defence and showed great character to come back and when McBriar was sin binned, McLaughlin duly obliged with the resultant penalty, bringing the scores level. In the final moments and Wesley again on the attack Ballynahinch were penalised for a high tackle and McLaughlin brought the scoring to a close to secure a bonus point win for Wesley by 35pts to 32pts.
This was an excellent game and a great spectacle for the spectators whose heart rates took some time to revert to normal. After the first series of four games, this leaves Wesley on 13pts and in fourth place behind leaders UL Bohemians on 18 pts. We are now well placed in the league and we look forward to our next match in the League which is on the 29th October against Galwegians in Donnybrook.
Old Wesley Scorers: Tries: Mark Robinson, Ger Finucane 2, Stephen Boyle; Cons: Barry McLaughlin 3; Pens: Barry McLaughlin 3
OLD WESLEY: Rory Stynes; Barry McLaughlin, Isaac Leota, Ger Finucane, Alan Jeffares; Tim Clifford, Ian Cassidy; Ken Knaggs, David Rowley, James Burton, Aaron Browne, Mark Robinson, Darren Horan (capt), Stephen Boyle, Mark Rowley. Replacements: Craig Telford, David Henshaw, Jonathan O’Sullivan, Matthew Bursey, Wes Deverell.
Below is the match report as published on the IRFU website
Another free-scoring contest at Donnybrook where Old Wesley and Ballynahinch shared out eight tries, and two closing penalties from Wesley winger Barry McLaughlin proved decisive.
Out-half James McBriar’s second try of the afternoon moved ‘Hinch ahead for the first time at 32-29, before McLaughlin split the posts twice in quick succession to complete his all-important 15-point contribution from the tee.
Prop Ken Knaggs had a big influence too in those defining final minutes, forcing the ruck penalty which McLaughlin turned into the winning score and claiming a relieving turnover just before the final whistle.
This was a very entertaining clash and the sides tore into each other right from the off, Wesley lock Mark Robinson finishing off good work by Ian Cassidy and Rory Stynes for the opening try.
The Dubliners led 17-13 at half-time, centre Ger Finucane getting over for their second touchdown and Steve Macauley adding a conversion and two penalties to ‘Hinch’s try from blindside Andrew Harper.
Wesley resumed on the attack with loosehead Knaggs stepping in at centre to provide a memorable assist for Finucane’s second try. McLaughlin converted for 24-13 and ‘Hinch, despite some dogged defending, were now struggling to stay in touch.
The Co. Down side’s classy inside centre Stuart Morrow then stepped up to the mark, using a quick tap to break from halfway and pass for McBriar to claim an encouraging seven-pointer.
A really well taken try from Wesley flanker Stephen Boyle, who fended off Davy Nicholson’s challenge, kept the hosts on course, but back-to-back efforts from Jordan Grattan and McBriar, with Morrow again heavily involved, saw ‘Hinch nip in front with 15 minutes remaining.
Wesley held their nerve, though, to capitalise on ‘Hinch’s second sin-binning as McLaughlin’s accurate kicks saw the visitors overhauled. Their third win has Morgan Lennon’s men up to fourth in the table, two points ahead of ‘Hinch.
OLD WESLEY: Rory Stynes; Barry McLaughlin, Isaac Leota, Ger Finucane, Alan Jeffares; Tim Clifford, Ian Cassidy; Ken Knaggs, David Rowley, James Burton, Aaron Browne, Mark Robinson, Darren Horan (capt), Stephen Boyle, Mark Rowley.
Replacements: Craig Telford, David Henshaw, Jonathan O’Sullivan, Matthew Bursey, Wes Deverell.
BALLYNAHINCH: Steve Macauley; Davy Nicholson (capt), Stuart Morrow, Jordan Grattan, Chris Quinn; Ross Carlisle, Chris Gibson; Kelvin Hamilton, Jonny Murphy, Stuart Orr, James Simpson, Kenny Morton, Andrew Harper, Ben Pentland, Keith Dickson.
Replacements: Jonny Blair, Joe Roe, Stewart Evans, James McBriar, Justin Rea.