All Ireland League – Banbridge 54 Old Wesley 21
On a sunny autumnal morning the Old Wesley squad made their way to Banbridge in confident mood following their previous week’s win over Seapoint in their opening game of this season’s All Ireland League.
As the teams took to the field the day clouded over, however Wesley started as they left off against Seapoint, on the attack and playing some very attractive running rugby. They came close on a couple of occasion but their only reward was a penalty from Barry McLaughlin despite their early dominance. As the first half progressed, Banbridge settled down and with their large pack and strong running backline came more into the game and on 25 minutes, a fine back move saw their fullback break through the Wesley defence before linking up with his outside backs to score an excellent try in the corner.
From the restart Banbridge kept up the pressure and following a series of five metre scrums they eventually got over for their second try of the afternoon. Scrum Half Ian Porter, who has represented Ulster and who had an excellent game, missed again with the conversion. Coming towards the end of the first half Banbridge were awarded a penalty from some 35 metres straight in front of the posts which Porter duly slotted. With the score at 13-3 and half time fast approaching Banbridge went on the attack again but the Wesley defence stood firm. As Banbridge swung the ball wide on half way their winger received a crunching tackle from Hooker Darren Horan, who had a fine game throughout. Barry McLaughlin was in quick to win the turnover before setting off on one of his typical runs where he glided through the defence to break clear beating the chasers to the line for an excellent try. The conversion went narrowly wide to leave the score at 13-8 to the home team at the interval.
In the second half the heavier Banbridge pack again took control and put pressure on both the Wesley lineout and scrum. However in a tight third quarter Banbridge kicked a long range penalty, following the sin binning of a Wesley forward, to go further ahead by 16-8 before Barry McLaughlin struck again to bring the score to 16-11. Shortly afterwards Banbridge scored their third try of the afternoon, which was duly converted to bring the score to 23 -11. Old Wesley again fought back before losing another player to the sinbin. Banbridge converted the penalty and then going into the final quarter they took total control running in four tries, two of them intercepts, in quick succession which were all converted to bring the score to 54 – 11.
It is a testament to the spirit of the Wesley team that they rallied again to score two excellent tries, both resulting from fine passing movements. The first was rounded off by Stephen Harvey and the second by Richie Jermyn which brought the final score to 54-21.
This was a fine Banbridge side that will prove a test for any other club in the Division and they now go top of the table with 10 points from two games.
Old Wesley Scores: Stephen Harvey, Richie Jermyn, try each; Barry McLaughlin, try, 2 pens.
Old Wesley team: Alan Large (capt), Richie Jermyn, Stephen Harvey, David Potterton, Barry McLaughlin, Paddy Owens, Ian Cassidy, David Henshaw, Darren Horan, James Burton, John Carroll, Ian McGann, Thomas Ratahi, Stephen Boyle, Neil Beirne. Subs: Greg Leader, Colin Wallace, Ben HoranDan van Zyl, Ken McLaughlin,
Meanwhile in the J4 League Old Wesley were given a walkover as the opposition, Newbridge, could only field 10 players. Both teams agreed to play a friendly with swap over players, however it was disappointing that the appointed referee would not take charge as the match was not a league match, meaning one of the team coaches had to stand in.