2nd November 2013. Ulster Bank All Ireland League – Ballymena 21 Old Wesley 6
Played in weather conditions not conducive to flowing rugby, a continuous downpour, various wind speeds and cold, this game was a forward battle with occasional flurries of back play. Also, the fading light added to the difficulties. The high kick ahead was used by both sides and was very well dealt with by the Old Wesley side.
Ballymena played with the wind in the first half and from the kick off exerted extreme pressure which yielded a converted try after eight minutes – a loose ball following an Old Wesley line out was collected by the Ballymena no 7 Mike Entwhistle to score beside the posts. Old Wesley fought hard to attack and one such break out after twenty minutes lead to a penalty kicked by Barry McLaughlin.
The Old Wesley scrum was in control but the Ballymena scrum half was very aggressive in disrupting possession at the base of the scrum. Ballymena were held up over the line and from the resulting scrum their scrum half Davie Shanahan, scored under the posts after twenty five minutes. Another up field surge by Old Wesley led to a penalty kicked by Barry McLaughlin after thirty five minutes. The pack worked very hard to gain ground, led by Richie Morrow and Darren Horan, however both Kenny Knaggs and Darren Horan were substituted due to injury.
After half time, the elements subsided somewhat and Old Wesley gained ground with some line out kicks but could not break the Ballymena defence. Old Wesley robbed a Ballymena defensive line out and this led to a near score only for Craig Telford to be held up over the line, but Old Wesley could not capitalise from the ensuing five meter scrum. This was Old Wesley’s best period of the second half but the sustained pressure did not yield any score. As the second half continued the Ballymena pack came more into the picture and play was more in the Old Wesley half. After thirty five minutes the home side pack forced over for a try by their number five Connor Smyth, which was converted to leave the final score Ballymena 21 – Old Wesley 6
Despite the result this was a fine defensive game by Old Wesley against a well organised Ballymena side. Old Wesley kept up the pressure and kept playing as a team to the final whistle.
Team: Conor Lavelle, Barry McLaughlin, Steven Harvey, Kieran Hurrell, Richie Jermyn, Rory Stynes, Ian Cassidy, Kenny Knaggs(capt) Craig Telford, James Burton, Richie Morrow, Paul McCarroll, Darren Horan, Thomas Ratahi, Stephen Boyle. Subs: Davy Henshaw, Iain McGann, Josh Hinde, Ivan Campbell, David Potterton,
Old Wesley scorers:
Barry McLaughlin, 2 pens