All Ireland League – City of Derry 34 Old Wesley 29
Old Wesley travelled north to City of Derry for their third AIL outing of the season, and a match that was played in cold but otherwise perfect conditions. City of Derry made the early moves and were very nearly in for a score in the first play only to be denied by a knock on. However after 3 minutes they made amends and from a fairly straightforward move scored under the posts. They extended their lead with an easy penalty goal 5 minute later. Old Wesley responded when a break by Neil Byrne brought play into the opposition 22 but again a knock on allowed the home team to relieve the pressure.
It was the home team who struck again on 20 minutes with a converted try following a handling error by Old Wesley. Old Wesley eventually got off the mark when Neil Byrne again made fine inroads to the opposition defence. From the recycled play team Captain Alan Large put Stephen Harvey in for a try converted by Barry McLaughlin. The Northerners struck again with a penalty goal on 34 minutes and 4 minutes later crossed for their third try. It was starting to look like another fruitless visit to Ulster. However a penalty goal on half time by McLaughlin brought the score to 10-27 giving Wesley a glimmer of hope.
The second half was a different story. City of Derry were dealt the first of their three yellow cards after just 10 minutes and 5 minutes came their second. However even down to 13 men their defence stood sound. Soon after their first carded player returned they received their third for a deliberate knock on. Derry’s defence eventually gave in when Colin Wallace broke from a scrum near the line to allow John Carroll cross for Wesley’s second try. Playing with renewed confidence Old Wesley were now looking the better team and were finding holes in the Derry defence. A fine back line movement saw David Potterton score the visitors’ third try. McLaughlin’s conversion brought the score to 24-27.
Just when it looked like the Old Wesley players and supporters might be going home with an unexpected victory the home team struck again when their winger outstretched the Wesley defence to score under the posts. But Wesley were determined not to go home empty handed. With less than five minutes to go they dug deep and after a series of fine carries and penalties conceded by the opposition they brought play deep into the 22. Their determination was rewarded when, in the dying minutes Ben Horan crossed for a double bonus point try. McLaughlin struck the upright with the conversion to leave the final score 29-34.
This was a much improve performance by Old Wesley, particularly in the second half, and will boost their confidence going into next week’s match against Galwegians.
Old Wesley Scores: Stephen Harvey, John Carroll, David Potterton, Ben Horan, try each; Barry McLaughlin, 3 con, pen
Old Wesley Team: Rory Stynes, Barry McLaughlin, Kieran Hurrell, David Potterton, Stephen Harvey, Alan Large (capt), Ian Cassidy, David Henshaw, Andrew Boyle, James Burto, Ivan Pirrie, Iain McGann, Ben Horan, Darren Horan, Neil Byrne. Subs Kenny Knaggs, John Carroll, Colin Wallace, Stephen Boyle, Paddy Owens.