AIL – Old Wesley 38 Highfield 17
Old Wesley claimed an impressive 5 tries to 3 bonus point win over Highfield at Donnybrook, making it 4 wins from the last 5 matches.
Highfield kicked off into the Old Wesley end of Donnybrook and looked to attack Wesley with direct carrying from prop Darragh Fitzgerald, but Old Wesley’s Cathal Kelly got over the ball to relieve pressure early on for the homeside. Strong carries from Eoin Deegan and Cronan Gleeson built momentum for the Wesley, but a handling error allowed Highfield to clear their lines. A maul setup by David Motyer gave Wesley a platform and 2 passes out the back put former Highfield player Sam Burns in at the corner for the games first score. Eoin Monahan duly converted. 7-0.
Wesley looked keen to get at the Highfield ruck which meant space was available down the channels for the Cork side however strong tackling from Tom Larke kept them out. Errors from both sides midway through the first half meant the game was played mainly between the 22s as both teams looked to get the upper hand. An inside ball put winger Colin O’Neil in behind Wesley and into the red zone, Wesley managed to scramble and hold centre Ben Murphy up, but play was brought back for an offside by Wesley 5m out. Highfield opted to tap and go, after 3 phases the space was out wide for centre Ben Murphy to dot down, conversion missed. 7-5. Wesley nearly got in again through Alex Molloy but a knock on meant they did not respond immediately. This brought an end to the first half.
Eoin Monahan kicked off into the Wesley end of Donnybrook as they looked to take hold of the game. Wesley got great purchase again through the double pull back out to captain Reuben Pim on the wing, but a hand from Highfield stopped momentum. From the scrum, Alex Molloy got great purchase and Wesley won a penalty for a high tackle. Monahan opted for posts and put Wesley 5 ahead. From the kick off full back Tom Larke danced through and made a 60-metre charge down the pitch but lack of support meant Highfield got the penalty for not releasing and were let off the hook.
Again, we saw both teams go through a rough patch as the half settled. Eoin Monahan made way for Ian Cassidy, making his 100th AIL appearance for the club, as well as Harry Noonan for Stephen Smyth.
The centurion’s first input was to put Nathan Randles away as Wesley charged up the field, Randles kicked through, and an awkward bouncing ball landed back in his hands as he offloaded to number 8 Will Fay to score Wesley’s 2nd of the day. Cassidy converted – 17-5 with 20 to go.
Wesley from the kick off were fast paced and exciting to watch, Eoin Deegan and Will Fay making huge carries in the midfield. Ian Cassidy then pulled out the back to Tom Larke who made the half break to offload to Alex Molloy and scrum half Ben Stephens was put in to finish Wesley’s 3rd of the day from 20 metres out. Cassidy once again adding the extras and Wesley were now 24-5 ahead. Keith Kavanagh immediately replaced Ben Stephens at scrum half as Wesley looked to mix things up again.
From the restart Wesley marched up the pitch and Alex Molloy sniped at a ruck to score what is nearly his mandatory try of the game. Wesley 31-5 up after Cassidy’s conversion. Harry Noonan and Cathal Kelly came off for Sam Kenny and Josh O’Hare. Highfield scored soon after the restart with a maul as Wesley’s subs came to terms with what was in front of them. A third score for the Cork men came soon after to make it 31-17 with 5 to go.
Wesley then found themselves back in the opposition 22 from great carries by Sam Burns and David Motyer. A scrum for Wesley 5 metres out was the platform for the final try of the day, as Nathan Randles offloaded to Will Fay who dotted down for his 2nd of the game. Ian Cassidy capping off his 100th cap with a beautiful sideline conversion.
Full time 38-17 to Old Wesley who continue their good run of form in the New Year, they finish this block of fixtures next week with a trip South to UCC.
Scorers: Tries: Sam Burns, Will Fay 2, Ben Stephens, Alex Molloy; Cons: Eoin Monahan 1, Ian Cassidy 4; Pen: Eoin Monahan
Team: Tom Larke, Nathan Randles, Alex Molloy, Eoin Deegan, Sam Burns, Eoin Monahan, Ben Stephens, Harry Noonan, Stephen Smyth, Cronan Gleeson, Billy Corrigan, David Motyer, Cathal Kelly, Reuben Pim (capt), Will Fay. Replacements: Howard Noonan, Sam Kenny, Josh O’Hare, Ian Cassidy, Keith Kavanagh, Fergus Jemphrey.