Old Wesley maintain unbeaten home record against Galwaymen
All Ireland League Old Wesley 34 Galwegians 33
The fourth round match of The Ulster Bank League Division 2A between Old Wesley and Galwegians took place in Donnybrook on a sunny and crisp Autumn afternoon with a stiff breeze blowing across the pitch towards the Dodder. Old Wesley got the match under way and after the opening exchanges it was Galwegians who had the first chance to score. On 5 minutes the home side conceded a penalty for an offside infringement inside their 22 which Tadgh Leader, the Galwegians out half, easily converted to give them the lead. However their lead was short lived when Galwegians were penalised in the scrum. Barry McLaughlin’s kicked on 8 minutes from the 10 metre line to open the Wesley account.
Old Wesley added to their score on 12 minutes following a fine intercept by Barry McLaughlin just inside the Wesley half when he outsprinted the Galwegians defence to touch down near the corner. His conversion brought the score to Old Wesley 10 Galwegians 3. Following some good exchanges from both sides it was Galwegians who were to score next when the home side were penalised for an offside infringement on their 22. The kick in front of the posts was easily converted by the Galwegians out half.
From the restart the ball was gathered by the Wesley pack who tried to penetrate the visitors defence. The ball was moved right to the Wesley backs where a skipped pass by Alan Large found McLaughlin who jinked his way through to score his second try midway in from the right hand touch line. His conversion brought the score after 20 minutes to Old Wesley 17 Galwegians 6.
Just when the home side looked as if they were getting on top Galwegians came back into it, first with a penalty for not releasing the ball. The kick by Leader from 30 metres brought the visitors tally to 9 points. This was followed with a try on the half hour mark when, following good possession from a lineout on the Wesley 22, the visitors pack mauled their way to the line where their No 8 Jonathan Gardiner got the touchdown. The successful conversion from out wide narrowed the margin between the teams to just a single point.
Old Wesley stretched their narrow lead again following a succession of pick and drives by their mobile pack. The ball was moved wide to Alan Large who made an outside break around the visitor’s defence to cross for Wesley’s third try in the corner. The conversion from the touch line narrowly went wide. This lead was short lived as from the kick off the ball was fielded by the Galwegians pack and spread wide before ending with a converted try in the corner by Tadgh Leader giving the Galway team a 23-22 lead going into half time.
The second half got under way with both sides prepared to move the ball wide and with both defences being tested to the full. It was the visitors who stretched their score line, first with a penalty and then with a try resulting from a neat kick over the Wesley defence for their winger Colin Conroy to score in the right hand corner. The conversion brought the score to Old Wesley 22 – 33 Galwegians.
From the restart Old Wesley gathered the ball and with some good drives brought play to within 5 metres of the line. The ball was then spread wide to Steven Harvey who was tackled close to the line, but unfortunately from the ensuing pick and drive the ball was lost forward. It was not until the final quarter that the home team scored again. Following a series of good drives by the Wesley pack Galwegians went off side inside their 22. From the resulting penalty Wesley opted to kick to the corner. From the ensuing lineout the home team drove over the line for the bonus point fourth try scored by Colin Wallace to narrow the score to 6 points.
The tempo of the match was raised for the remaining minutes as both teams pushed for a win. Galwegians, pushing for a fourth try bonus point, nearly made it over the Wesley line. But after several phases and resolute defending by the home team Galwegians were penalised for not releasing the ball and the siege was lifted for the home team. Buoyed by the growing belief that the game was still theirs to be won Wesley moved the ball at every occasion. They were finally rewarded in the 79th minute when Alan Large, from inside the Wesley half, moved the ball right to Rory Stynes on the wing who fed the ball back inside to Large who completed the move scoring his second try close to the posts. The conversion by McLaughlin gave Old Wesley back the lead. Old Wesley 34 Galwegians 33.
However the drama continued into injury time. From the restart Wesley gathered the ball but in their efforts to retain possession they infringed and so Galwegians had a chance to secure a win with the last kick of the match. The penalty kick from 35 metres went across the posts and wide much to the relief of the Wesley team and supporters.
Both teams are to be congratulated for providing the spectators with a very entertaining and at times heart stopping game of rugby. Old Wesley’s win moves them up to eighth place and into the upper half of the league table.
Old Wesley Scorers:- Tries: Alan Large (2), Colin Wallace, Barry McLaughlin (2). Cons: Barry McLaughlin (3). Pen: Barry McLaughlin
Old Wesley:- Rory Stynes, Barry Mclaughlin, Kieran Hurrell, David Potterton, Steven Harvey, Alan Large (Capt), Ian Cassidy, Ken Knaggs, Jamie Boyle, James Burton, John Carroll, Iain McGann, Ivan Pirrie, Ben Horan, David Brownlow. Subs: Colin Wallace, David Henshaw, Greg Leader, Stephen Boyle, Dan van Zyl