Old Wesley take bonus point win at Templeville Rd
All Ireland League – Old Wesley 41 St. Mary’s 15
After December’s long overdue victory over St. Mary’s, Old Wesley travelled to Templeville Road expecting a strong response from the home side. However it was quite the opposite as Old Wesley outplayed the home side in virtually all aspects of the game, and in particular the scoreline.
Straight from the kick off Old Wesley were doing the attacking having a strong foothold in opposition territory. Rory Stynes had the first scoring opportunity with a medium range penalty, but he pulled the kick wide. Wesley continued to hold the territory and possession advantage. A strong run by Tommy O’Callaghan had Mary’s on the back foot, but his pass to Paul Harte did not go to hand. Eventually Wesley were rewarded for their stronger play with a penalty on the 22. This time Stynes had no difficulty with the kick to take the first points of the game. But shortly after Wesley were penalised for a ruck infringement and St. Mary’s levelled the score with a kick by Marcus O’Driscoll.
However from the restart Wesley were again on the attack and they were finding weaknesses in the Mary’s backline. A break by Charlie O’Regan brought play up to the 5 metre line and under pressure Mary’s conceded a penalty and a yellow card. From the ensuing lineout the Wesley pack pummelled the opposition line before eventually swinging the ball out to the backs, for Tom Kiersey to cross the line untouched for a try, which was converted with ease by Stynes. Then as half time approached Wesley turned down the option of clearing to touch from inside their own half. Instead they launched a counter attack with the ball being passed through many hands in Barbarians style. The gamble paid off, when Ben Burns broke through a weak tackle to finalise the move with a try near the posts. Stynes again added the points to give Old Wesley a well deserved 17-3 lead at half time.
Mary’s had a better start to the second half and following a Wesley knock on they were probably in their best field position since the start. However the stout Wesley defence made sure they were not allowed to score. Then a neat chip ahead by Kiersey was picked up by James O’Donovan who showed his speed and strength to touch down under the posts. Wesley’s confidence was now high and virtually straight from the kick off they were back attacking down midfield. With some great carries they were up to the Mary’s 22, when JJ O’Dea received the final pass. Arms flaying he got over for try number 4 despite the efforts of the opposition defenders. With a 31-3 lead the result was no longer in doubt and the bonus point was in the bag. But with 20 minutes to go Wesley were not finished. After Stynes added a further penalty goal, a prolonged period of Wesley possession ensued. There were many confident carries and Burns was again on hand to fight off the final tackler to score under the posts.
The hosts eventually found another gear with two late tries. The first saw substitute Hugo Conway outsprint the Wesley defence down the wing for a converted try. And 5 minutes later following a bout of pressure Padraig Dundon bundled over for a second try. With the game now in its final few minutes both sides looked to run the ball, with Wesley coming close to late try. However there were no further scores and Wesley gratefully accepted this, their biggest AIL win of the season.
The result puts Old Wesley second in the league table on equal points with Malone; our next opponent. However this continues to be a very tight league with just 9 point separating the first and last placed teams. By stark comparison in Division 1A there are 38 points separating first and last.
OLD WESLEY SCORERS – Tom Kiersey, try; Ben Burns, 2 tries; James O’Donovan, try; JJ O’Dea, try: Rory Stynes, 2 penalties, 5 conversions
TEAM – Rory Stynes, Tommy O’Callaghan, James O’Donovan, David Poff, Paul Harte (captain), Tom Kiersey, Charlie O’Regan, Harry Noonan., Ben Burns, Cronan Gleeson, Iain McGann, JJ O’Dea, Darren Horan, Josh Pim, Paul Derham.
REPLACEMENTS Andrew McCrann, Ciaran McHugh, Conor Barry, Alan Jeffares, Craig Miller.
Click here for high res photos by Ken Richardson, which may be downloaded