Fourths Men of Wesley Triumph in CYM Arena by Taylor
Metro League Div 4 – CYM 9 Old Wesley 39
Tries: Coghlan (2), Priestman (2), Handcock, Glynn, Vaneli. Cons: Handcock (2)
(13th Nov) It can be easy to take for granted those men of the arena, those granite warriors who do battle on a weekly basis in the name of their club and brethren…. as I write this from my chaise longue drinking Beaujolais….
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.“ The Man in the Arena FDR.
And so it was, last Sunday noon, the Fourths Men of Wesley once more entered that vaunted Arena to let slip the dogs of war and cry havoc yet again. The oppugner – CYM Terenure – currently languish at the foot of the league table. A top versus bottom spectacle was to be had, only our antagonist had no regard for script and was fully primed to play out their own operatic tragedian fantasia. Wesley needed maximum points on offer here to solidify our position as league leaders, but there could be no room for complacency – on such rocks do ships of confidence perish.
Buoyed by the return of their captain from international duty, the Wesley men drew their battle lines in the warm up, as a whiff of cordite permeated the air. Wesley prepped well. The pre-match huddle called for an opening gambit of primal aggression, simplicity and execution. There would be no talk of points difference or bonus points – win the match first with single-minded purpose.
The match started well with both sides finding their distance and cadence. CYM ran strongly, straight and competed well on the deck. Indiscipline cost Wesley a penalty in their own half after five minutes however and first blood went to CYM, converting to make it 3-0. The Wesley men parried immediately when Stevie Young fixed his opposite number, ran a diagonal to dummy his centre and put Handcock through the gap from the wing, who just managed to wriggle himself free from the tackle and get over the whitewash. He converted his own score to make it 3-7.
As play resumed, Wesley opted to run the ball continually and prematurely from our own half, eventually turning over possession and then conceding a converted penalty: 6-7. CYM were beginning to grow in composure on their home soil, enjoying a purple patch sustained by Wesley indiscipline. We needed to produce a big defensive effort to counter this and it came in spades with tenor and character. Joe Wheatley put in some big hits with the sort of emotional detachment somebody has while waiting for a bus to arrive. Phil Power screamed for defensive realignment like the castrati singers of old. Max Lane, now flourishing post injury, was like a Dublin city clamper in defence and CYM’s bus was going nowhere. Old Man Heelo came off the line with carnivorous intent to exact a monstrous hit with valour and no sense of self-preservation which disembowelled his hapless opposite number. This wolf in cheap clothing is back to his best since being reunited with Mark Toal-Lennon, happily mimicking his inimitable style and actions both on and off the field.
Wesley reclaimed possession when Boyle manfully got his hands over the ball in a ruck, and the Wyverns started to turn the screw. Carries by Lane, Parfrey and Doyle brought play into the opponents half. Toal-Lennon continued to carry strongly in the centre, his locks glistening lambently as he made contact, like a nose hair after a sneeze. Continued pressure resulted in a Wesley scrum on the CYM 22. Priesty flashed the ball out to Stevie Young who deftly left a pop ball hang on his inside shoulder. Glynner took the invitation at full pelt, coming from the outside in, and straight through the gap. He backed himself, and his pace, to take the last man on the outside and scorched straight under the posts. Handcock converted to make it 6-14.
CYM battled straight back, pinning us in our own half, exacerbated by a poorly functioning Wesley line-out. Danger lurked as we battled to absorb pressure without giving away another penalty. Reprieve came when CYM’s over-exuberance caused them to overextend, allowing Coghlan to brilliantly read the play and intercept at speed from just outside his own 22. He skilfully stepped the fullback and burned the covering winger in a straight race to the line to score in the corner. Handcock failed to convert from the side-line leaving the score 6-19.
From the kick-off, Wesley played the percentages better and kicked more astutely to take us out of our own half. CYM countered when their No 8 broke through the centre of the field and released his speedy winger down the line from his own half. Priesty shot across from midfield in chase and together with Coghlan hounded and harried the winger into touch just shy of the try line – a seminal moment that robbed CYM of a crucial score on half time that would otherwise have kept them in the hunt. Half time beckoned and with it sage advice from the coaching ticket. Calls for better execution after phases and improved collective defence echoed. The second half started as a raft of replacements entered the fray, revitalising the teams hunger to push on.
Old Wesley forayed into CYM’s half with plenty of pick and gos around the fringes and put breath on the ball. Great handling by the team saw Glynner caught just shy of the line, but he kept his body in play, warded off his tackler and allayed a lovely offload for Priesty to pounce on, and take over the line. 6-24. CYM responded with a converted penalty which Wes conceded outside the 22, guilty again of playing too much rugby in our own half to make it 9-14. The Wesley men rallied quickly in response, this time determined to shoot the shepherd and scatter the sheep. Pressure built after the restart resulted in two disallowed tries for the unfortunate Clayton – one from a well-executed lineout and maul over the line; the other after leaping on a loose ball which spouted out from the resultant scrum. Priestman immediately provided the sorbet to cleanse the palate however, spotting a missing pillar defender in the ruck, he picked himself and jotted down the line. 9-29.
The final score came fittingly on the back of great interplay between the whole team. A quick and fluid ball flicked right from a scrum in the midfield through Toal-Lennon and Clax, and was carried straight up the right flank. Quick recycling by Diggs and Parfrey, followed by a strong carry in the middle supported by Moore and Hall, allowed the ball to reload back where Glynn and Coghlan’s switch bifurcated the defence and put the fullback over for his second try in the corner for a 34-9 final score line.
All told this was a great result, yielding maximum points whilst on the road. A much changed squad took to the field, as Coach Clatch’s player rotation policy took effect. While some of the causalities of this policy may have waxed indignant, the protocol will undeniably build depth and strength for the coming battles, and also exhibited the plethora of talent available in this squad with many putting their hands up for selection. Granted, our line-out fluctuated from aerial impressionario to flat-line and we left some red zone opportunities behind us; but all of these are readily rectifiable and more importantly, the candles of creativity still burn brightly in Wesley’s cathedral.
Huge games await us in the coming weeks. Momentum is a powerful thing but if we are to realise our potential we will also need to improve. You only get what you deserve through what you work for, so we need everyone to train in the coming weeks. This is imperative. None so greater is the challenge posed against Clontarf in a fortnight to determine league supremacy, yet, who better to take the battle to them? These men of Wesley men will not go gently into that good night, that I guarantee. Battle lines have been draw once more and to a man we will rage, rage against the dying of the light..
Gentlemen, I shall see you in the Arena.