All Ireland League – Old Wesley 27 Queens University 33
To the neutral supporter this was a highly entertaining match featuring ten tries. To the Old Wesley supporter it was an error strewn first half followed by a second half uphill battle.
Right from the off it was obvious this was a typical university side with a useful back line proving so after just 5 minutes with the opening try following some good back line play. The home team responded by exerting considerable pressure with their bigger pack and following a persistent and patient series of attacks were rewarded with a try by Barry McLoughlin. He missed the conversion leaving the score 5-7.
Despite Old Wesley enjoying most of the possession in the first half it was the Belfast men who capitalised on some poor defence. They crossed for their second try on 18 minutes following an orthodox back line move. Then minutes later a well fielded cross kick led to their third try, this time under the posts. Old Wesley responded by bringing play deep into the opposition 22 but were penalised for holding on allowing Queens relieve the pressure. To make matters worse a speculative kick and an Old Wesley defence mix up allowed the students in for their fourth try.
Old Wesley needed to score next to have any chance of a recovery, and they did. They electing to kick for touch rather than for goal, and from the ensuing line out their pack drove over for a try by team captain Richie Morrow. However the Wesley come back was short lived as the visitors finished the half scoring their fifth try leaving the half time score 10-33
The second half saw a different Old Wesley side emerge and, with their more physical pack, playing a tighter game. They were awarded a line out on the 5 meter line and this time it was Kenny Knaggs who had the honours barging over for the first try of the second half. This spurred on the home side and also their supporters. With Dan van Zyl on at out half they were using different options and also exercising better defence. On the hour an intercept was well held by Alan Large. On hand was the fastest man on the pitch Barry McLoughlin who took Large’s pass and was never going to be caught as he sprinted 50 meters for Old Wesley’s fourth try.
With the score on 22-33 it was a big ask for a win, but a losers bonus point was definitely on. A brilliant break by substitute Ben Horan saw him brought down 5 meters short but he was penalised for not releasing from the tackle. To make matters worse he was yellow carded for foul play reducing Old Wesley to 14 men. But Wesley’s persistence paid off. In the last play of the match a fine break by Stephen Harvey brought play deep into the Queens 22. Then quick recycled ball saw Greg Leader cross for the much needed loser’s bonus point.
A fascinating match with all tries and no penalties, and the visitors, who dominated in the first half, failing to score in the second half.
Old Wesley scores: Barry McLoughlin, 2 tries, 1 con; Richie Morrow, Kenny Knaggs, Greg Leader, try each.
Team: – Rory Stynes, Barry McLaughlin, Kieran Hurrell, Stephen Harvey, Rob Hallam, Alan Large, Ian Cassidy, Davy Henshaw, Jamie Boyle, Kenny Knaggs, John Carroll, Ian McGann, Darren Horan, Thomas Ratahi, Richie Morrow (Capt). Subs: James Burton, Greg Leader, Ben Horan, Gareth Dunne, Dan van Zyl.