Old Wesley welcomed Cashel RFC to Donnybrook for this first ever AIL match between both clubs played in cold but otherwise ideal conditions. To say welcomed may be a tad inaccurate as for the first 10 minutes the home side would not give the visitors the ball as they dominated possession. Despite this Old Wesley were unable to pierce the Cashel defence, however just as it looked as though their early dominance would come to naught Stephen Harvey tore through the defence passing to David Potterton for the opening try under the posts. Barry McLaughlin obliged with the easy conversion.
Old Wesley continued their dominance of the first quarter and both Ian Cassidy and Barry McLaughlin came close to scoring only to be denied by a knock on and good defence respectively. Their persistence did pay off after 22 minutes when a break by Cassidy from his own 22 led to one of the finest tries seen in Donnybrook in many a match. The ball went through many sets of hands before Stephen Boyle finished off the move scoring under the posts. McLaughlin again converted.
The visitors however were not prepared to sit back. They started to raise their game and following a series of attacks eventually crossed for a converted try. Ten minutes later a move, again started by Cassidy, brought play deep into the opposition defence for Harvey to score 10 meters in from touch. Again McLaughlin nailed the tricky conversion.
At this stage the men from Tipperary discovered their strongest asset, their physical pack. A series of pick and drives saw them very nearly over. The home side had to call on all their reserves to prevent the score. Eventually Ben Horan was dealt a yellow card for a technical infringement and from the ensuing scrum called by Cashel they drove over for their second converted try leaving the half time score 21-14 to Old Wesley.
Still down to 14 players the visitors exerted considerable pressure on the Old Wesley defence and if it were not for some crunching tackles another try would almost certainly have been conceded. However back to full strength and Old Wesley’s confidence restored they started to look the stronger side again. McLaughlin soon extended the lead with a short range penalty to restore a two score lead. When awarded a penalty 50 meters out most spectators were expecting a kick down the line, however McLaughlin, who had a highly productive day with the boot, nailed the kick to the delight of the home supporters. Persistent pressure by Old Wesley was now forcing Cashel to concede multiple penalties. McLaughlin again struck with an even more difficult penalty as the ball seemed to hang in the air for ages before going over the bar.
Now with a 30-14 three score lead a win for the visitors was out of reach and Old Wesley’s thoughts turned to the forth bonus point try. However Cashel were not prepared to give up and when a awarded a series of penalties in the Old Wesley half they ran everything. But thanks to some stout tackling they could not breach the sturdy Old Wesley defence. With 5 minutes on the clock the home side eventually achieve their goal with a Stephen Harvey try following some excellent back line handling.
To their credit Cashel still did not give up and came close to a consolation late score. Equally Old Wesley continued to dig deep. Even down to 14 men after a late yellow card to Colin Wallace for a deliberate knock, Wesley showed great resilience and maturity to deny the visitors a score.
The final score of 37-14 puts Old Wesley into a comfortable 5th place in the league, just 5 points off the lead.
Old Wesley Scores: Stephen Harvey – 2 tries; David Potterton – try; Stephen Boyle – try: Barry McLaughlin, 4 cons, 3 pens
Old Wesley Team: Rory Stynes, Barry McLaughlin, David Potterton, Stephen Harvey, Conor Boyd, Alan Large (capt), Ian Cassidy, Greg Leader, Jamie Boyle, James Burton, Ivan Pirrie, Iain McGann, Ben Horan, Darren Horan, Stephen Boyle. Subs: Davy Henshaw, John Carroll, Colin Wallace, Owen Fitzpatrick,Dan vanZyl.