Naas deny Old Wesley in high octane encounter
All Ireland League – Old Wesley 5 Naas 7
In a tight encounter, Naas proved once again to be Old Wesley’s bogie team of recent years. The score may have been low but the tempo was high in this hard fought match.
Old Wesley looked the better side in the opening encounters and indeed for much of the first half. An early chip by Rory Stynes had play in the opposition 22 only to be thwarted by a knock on. Then with 10 minutes gone a scything run by Tom Kiersey brought play from inside his own half to within 10 metres of the Naas line. However the fly-half paid a heavy price injuring himself in the tackle, to be replaced by Josh Miller. Wesley had the line out but the throw in was crooked. Soon after Wesley were awarded a penalty for a high tackle. Alan Gaughan took the kick at goal but it was short of the posts.
Both teams were now eager to run the ball, but equally their defences prevented any scores. Wesley had another line out in the Naas 22. Following some good drive and maul play they were stopped just short of the line, but were unable to capitalise on the ensuing scrum. Wesley were dealt a blow before half time when Paul Derham was shown a yellow card for a ruck infringement, allowing Naas to kick for touch inside the Wesley 22, and their first real opportunity to score. They attacked strongly swinging the ball from one side of the pitch to the other, but the Wesley defence stood strong eventually winning a turnover. Despite the clearance not finding touch and a Naas counterattack, a knock on ended the onslaught and soon after it was half time with a nil all score line.
Naas started the second half the stronger taking advantage of the breeze and the slope of the pitch. A penalty kick to touch had the visitors under big pressure. From the line out and after a number of picks the home side eventually drove over for a try by Will O’Brien, which was converted by Peter Osborne. Naas continued to have the upper hand for most of the 3rd quarter however the score did not change.
If Naas won the 3rd quarter Old Wesley took charge of the final quarter and will be disappointed not to have a couple more scores. After some good carries Stynes looked to be in for a try but he lost control of the ball just before grounding. Wesley continued to apply the pressure and from a scrum 5 metres out the pack was just half a metre short of the line but no try. Minutes later there was another scrum near the Naas line, but this time a knock on denied Old Wesley a try. Then from a line out on the Naas 22 the Wesley pack drove the maul a full 20 metres to the opposition goal line, but frustratingly again were guilty of a knock on. With 5 minutes to go a yellow card to a Naas player boosted Wesley’s hopes.
Wesley had the Kildare men pinned in their 22 and had the opportunity to score with 3 late line outs inside 10 metres from the opposition line. They were denied scores off the first two of these due to line out errors, but the 3rd was perfect and the pack drove over the line for a try by JJ O’Dea. The conversion into a cross wind was difficult and Stynes pulled the kick just wide leaving Naas to claim the winning honours.
Next up it’s Buccaneers at home in 2 weeks time. Old Wesley still tops the table marginally ahead of Ballynahinch on points difference. But this league continues to be extremely tight with just 8 points separating 1st to 9th on the table.
OLD WESLEY SCORERS – JJ O’Dea , try.
TEAM – Rory Stynes, Tommy O’Callaghan, Paul Gaughan, James O’Donovan, Paul Harte (captain), Tom Kiersey, Charlie O’Regan, Harry Noonan., Ben Burns, Cronan Gleeson, Paul Derham, JJ O’Dea, Conor Barry, Josh Pim, Darren Horan. REPLACEMENTS Craig Telford, Ciaran McHugh, Donnchadh Phelan, Josh Miller, David Poff.