All Ireland League – Old Wesley 10 – Dublin University 13
Old Wesley’s AIL bubble eventually burst against Dublin University when for once it was the students who taught the more experienced players how to control a match. Old Wesley were guilty of a high error count, a high turnover count and some poor decisions in a match full of opportunities to win.
Trinity showed their liking of the all weather pitch at Donnybrook early on and in typical student fashion were always willing to run the ball. Indeed they were off the mark after just 3 minutes when from a line out on the half way line they swung the ball out wide to full back Conor Kearns who wrong footed Billy Ngawini and sprinted in from the half way for a try. Barry McLaughlin hauled back 3 points with a penalty from 47 meters out that just about had the length. Trinity were nearly on the scoreboard again when their potent winger Jack McFarland made a fine break but was stopped just short of the line. But 20 minutes into the game Old Wesley started to come to terms with college rugby and their pack started to flex its muscles. Wesley took a good line out steal on the opposition 22 but frustratingly it came to nothing following a knock on. Further pressure ensued with a series of good scrums however Trinity defended well. It looked like Wesley might score from a 5 meter scrum but whatever their powerful front row was doing the referee didn’t like it and Trinity were allowed to lift the siege with a penalty. Indeed this spurred on the visitors and they soon got back down the far end of the pitch. After some good recycling winger McFarland eventually crossed in the corner to make it 3-10. Wesley’s cause was not helped by a yellow card for Iain McGann for foul play and there were no further scores before half time.
Old Wesley started the second half with more purpose and 3 minutes in were awarded a penalty 35 minutes, however McLaughlin was wide with the attempt at goal. McLaughlin was then nearly in for a try but was bundled into touch, albeit by a high tackle resulting a yellow card for the Trinity substitute prop. Trinity were dealt three more yellow cards and at one stage were down to 11 players. Bizarrly Old Wesley were unable to capitalise caused not least by handling errors, crooked line outs and arguably some incorrect penalty decisions when they opting for a line out rather than a scrum. In fact, much against the odds, it was Trinity who earned the points with a penalty kick to make it 3-13. The numbers advantage did eventually tell for Old Wesley when Billy Henshaw crossed for a try in the corner. McLaughlin struck the conversion perfectly to make it a 3 point game. However with just 5 minutes on the clock the visitors controlled the final minutes running down the clock before the referee blew the final whistle.
Whilst Old Wesley will rue the loss they were up against a well organised side who deserved the victory on the day. Having said that Wesley did earn a loser’s bonus point and if asked at the start of the campaign would they be happy with 20 league points after 5 matches no doubt the answer would be yes. The result sees Old Wesley drop to 2nd place in the league behind Ballymena.
Old Wesley team: Rory Stynes, Barry McLaughlin, Billy Ngawini, Ger Finucane, Billy Henshaw, Alan Large, Ian Cassidy [Capt], Kenny Knaggs, David Rowley, James Burton, Josh Hinde, Iain McGann, Darren Horan, Stephen Boyle, Mark Rowley. Subs: Craig Telford, Oltian Dervishi, Michael Triggs, Garry O’Brien, Adam Kennedy
Old Wesley scorers: Billy Henshaw, try; Barry McLaughlin, con, pen.