FIRST TEAM LOSE TIGHT ENCOUNTER AWAY TO UL Bohs
UL BOHEMIANS 29 OLD WESLEY 21, University of Limerick 4G pitch
Scorers: UL Bohemians: Tries: Joe Murray, Jamie McNamara, Rick McKenna 2; Cons: Rick McKenna 3; Pen: Robbie Bourke
Old Wesley: Tries: Ger Finucane, Barry McLaughlin; Con: Barry McLaughlin; Pens: Barry McLaughlin 3
HT: UL Bohemians 19 Old Wesley 7
The 1st XV travelled to Limerick last Saturday for an early season top of the table encounter against ULBohs at their wonderfully appointed facilities in Plassey. This was a very fast-moving encounter between two evenly matched teams ( replicating the tight matches of last season ) on the home side’s 4G pitch.
Wesley started very brightly and won a lot of primary possession which they moved well , but came up against a very solid flat defence. ULBohs looked very dangerous in possession and moved the ball at every opportunity , with former Munster player, Cathal Sheridan running the show from scrum half. Wesley withstood these attacks , with Ger Finucane saving a very dangerous situation with an excellent tap-tackle.
On 23 minutes, Wesley opened the scoring with an excellently worked try from inside their own half , with a great defence-splitting run by Barry McLaughlin , who transferred to Tim Clifford, who drew the defence before sending the supporting Ger Finucane through the gap for a great try , converted by McLaughlin — 7-0 Old Wesley. Unfortunately Bohs , continuing to move the ball through the hands at every opportunity, hit back on 27 minutes with a well worked try by Joe Murray , converted by out-half, Rick McKenna. 7- 7. This led to a pivotal 15 minutes up to half time, which had a key bearing on the final result. Wesley defended bravely and skilfully against strong Bohs pressure and conceded a penalty before captain, Darren Horan, received a yellow card. A number of scrums ensued near the Wesley line, which were excellently defended and, just when it looked like we were weathering the storm, Mark Rowley picked up another yellow card. 13 man Wesley (with James Burton on for Kenny Knaggs) put their bodies bravely on the line, but the disparity in numbers finally told and winger, and Jamie McNamara squeezed in at the corner for a Bohs unconverted try — 12-7 Bohs. With Wesley clinging on into the breeze and still down to 13 players, the last play of the half resulted in the serious blow of another try by their Bohs’ excellent out-half , Rick McKenna( former New Zealand U18 player), who converted to give them a flattering half- time lead of 19-7.
With the wind behind them , Wesley came out in very determined fashion to try and make inroads into the deficit. Knaggs came back on for Henshaw and hooker and Conor Maguire came on for Craig Telford. After a couple of missed opportunities, on 52 minutes, McLaughlin kicked an excellent penalty to reduce the deficit to 19-10. The Wesley scrum was getting completely on top and exerted strong pressure, but, to the surprise of the team and supporters alike, they were penalised in three scrums. Despite this and after further great pressure from the pack McLaughlin kicked another penalty on 62 minutes — 19-13 Bohs. the Limerick men bounced back and ran the ball hard at the Wesley defence eventually resulting in their 4th try by McKenna, who converted to make the scoreline 26-13. Wesley showed great spirit and resilience to fight back with a deserved try from McLaughlin in the corner , which he failed narrowly to convert — 26-18 to Bohs. Donnchadh Phelan came on for Stephen Boyle. Wesley threw everything at Bohs and, despite some line-out inaccuracy, they finally earned a well- deserved penalty , which put them in bonus point territory , at 21-26 down. The final few minutes were played in a downpour and Wesley again conceded a yellow card for Tim Clifford. The resultant penalty was knocked over by McKenna, to take away the bonus point from Wesley, which was the very least they deserved in an excellent match against a very good team, but which could so easily have gone the other way.
There were many positive elements in the performance, which, with improvements in other areas, will leave us well positioned for upcoming matches.
OLD WESLEY: Rory Stynes; Barry McLaughlin, Isaac Leota, Ger Finucane, Alan Jeffares; Tim Clifford, Adam Griggs; Ken Knaggs, Craig Telford, David Henshaw, Josh Hinde, Michael Dunleavy, Darren Horan, Stephen Boyle, Mark Rowley.
Replacements: Conor Maguire, James Burton, Donnchadh Phelan, Greg Hawe, Conor Fitzgibbon.