AIL – Old Wesley 25 Thomond 15
In the All Ireland League Old Wesley made it 8 wins out of 8 with a 25-15 win over Limerick side Thomond. Limerick teams are renowned for their physical style of rugby and this team was no different. However their physicality was no match for Old Wesley’s slicker style of play.
The Munster men made most of the early encounters putting pressure on the Old Wesley defence. Following a couple of penalties kicked down the line Thomond found themselves in a very strong attacking position. Wesley had to defend hard against a couple of 5 meter scrums. Despite the visitors crossing but just failing to ground the ball Wesley eventually lifted the siege and cleared their lines. Then it was Old Wesley’s turn to gain territory from a couple of penalties. From a set piece move Ian Cassidy made a fine break from near half way. He passed to Alan Large who continued the attack who in turn passed to Steven Harvey who crossed in the corner for the first score of the match. Minutes later Daren Horan intercepted a pass and would almost certainly have been in but was unable to keep his footing. At this stage the Old Wesley back line was getting into top gear and starting to cause problems for the opposition defence. The ball was passed to Richie Jermyn on the wing who put in a neat kick ahead and chased up his own kick to score Wesley’s second try. Thomond had their first scoring opportunity 4 minutes before half time with a penalty kick but their full back Dean O’Brien was well wide of the mark. Cassidy extended the Wesley lead to 13 nil with a straightforward penalty kick after Thomond player Wayne Mullaney was shown a yellow card. Then just on half time mobile second row Iain McGann picked up a loose ball. He passed to Rory Stynes who took off on one of his famous jinking runs culminating in try number 3 and Wesley looked to be in cruise control.
But whatever the Thomond coach said to his team at half time gave them a new lease of life. They made a number of visits to the Old Wesley 22 and after 10 minutes of the second half they capitalised with their first try by Dean O’Brien after finding the Old Wesley defence short of numbers. But their recovery was short lived. A kick ahead was fielded by Stynes but the Thomond players were on top of him. The referee awarded a penalty against Old Wesley for holding on but reversed it following what appeared to be backchat by a Thomond player. Thomond’s woes continued with a yellow card for their hooker Payne. Approaching the hour mark Old Wesley had a strung ruck on the opposition 22. Cassidy made a break down the blind side feeding to Jermyn who crossed for the bonus point try. Cassidy converted to make it 25-5.
But the Limerick men were certainly not giving up and with Wesley guilty of taking the foot of the pedal they crossed for a try by Tom Burke and a minute later by Dara O’Neill. Neither were converted but the gap was now just 10 points and Wesley certainly did not want to concede any more scores. But Thomond’s discipline let them down. Their number 6 Wayne Mullaney, who earlier had seen yellow, was lucky to stay on the pitch. What appeared to be a blatant stamping incident was spotted by the touch judge. However following a long discussion between referee and touch judge, and to the surprise of many the decision was penalty only. But it did allow Wesley to relieve the pressure and indeed it was the home side that finished the stronger. Wesley had a couple of line outs in the opposition 22 but failed to capitalise leaving the final score 25-15
The win continues to cement Old Wesley’s dominance in Division 2a which they now lead by 6 points. The win also means that this year’s Old Wesley team has beaten the record of seven straight wins achieved in the 1990/91 season before Old Wesley were promoted to Division 1.
Team: Rory Stynes, Eoin Stynes, Steven Harvey, Ger Finucane, Richie Jermyn, Alan Large (capt), Ian Cassidy, Ken Knaggs, David Rowley, David Henshaw, Richie Morrow, Iain McGann, Darren Horan, Stephen Boyle, Mark Rowley. Subs: James Burton, Craig Telford, Andrew McCrann, Josh Hinde, Wes Deverell,
Old Wesley scorers: Steven Harvey, try; Richie Jermyn, 2 tries; Rory Stynes, try, Ian Cassidy, 1 con, 1 pen
Below – Richie Jermyn’s First Try