All Ireland League – Old Wesley 12 Banbridge 18
There were matches in Limerick and Galway cancelled due to unplayable pitches however the conditions in Banbridge were ideal. Apart from a breeze the weather and pitch conditions were perfect.
Playing into the breeze Old Wesley started the better and looked to be well up for the opposition, who were challenging for a promotion spot. There were a number of good carries in particular by Matthew Bursey and JJ O’Dea. After 15 minutes of pressurising the opposition, Wesley were in a strong position with a 5 metre scrum, however the opposition defence held firm and were able to relieve the pressure. Entering the second quarter the home side eventually started to flex its muscles with their potent back line pushing Wesley to its limits. Banbridge looked to be in for their first score after 28 minutes but were called back for a forward pass. However they maintained the pressure and 5 minutes later centre Andrew Morrison found a gap in the Wesley defence to cross for the first score of the match. Surprisingly Ian Porter missed the conversion. Then just before the half time break Morrison was on hand again crossing for his second try. This time Porter kicked the conversion to leave Old Wesley a major uphill climb for the second half. Half time 0-12
Wesley had a dream start to the second half when out half Tim Clifford intercepted a pass on the 10 metre line, and sprinted untouched to score under the posts. Josh Miller converted with ease and Wesley were suddenly back in the game. Spurred on by this unexpected bonus Wesley started to regain some form and enjoyed a minor purple patch. On two occasions they had line outs inside the Banbridge 22 but on both occasions conceded possession. A kick ahead brought play into the opposition 22. Following a number of attacks and after a penalty that was taken quickly, prop Cronan Gleeson used his strength to power over for a try. The conversion was missed but now at 12 all Wesley were back in the game.
A yellow card for Banbridge flanker Caleb Montgomery added to Wesley’s hopes however it was the home side that upped their game. A break in midfield looked like a Banbridge try was imminent however Wesley did just enough to halt the attack. But they conceded a penalty in front of the posts allowing the Ulster side to regain the lead. Then with 5 minutes remaining Wesley conceded another penalty in front of the posts and a yellow card for Davy Henshaw for tackler not releasing. Porter again converted with ease for a 6 point lead.
To their credit in the remaining minutes Wesley threw everything at the opposition coming within metres of the goal line. Eoghan O’Reilly looked to be over but was called back for a forward pass. Wesley were then awarded a penalty under the posts in the dying minutes. With 3 points of no advantage they correctly ran the ball out wide until a pass was adjudged forward by the referee; a decision that many Wesley supporters did not agree with. However with time now up there were no further scores.
So on the negative side, a disappointing loss, but on the plus side a bonus point picked up against a highly rated side.
OLD WESLEY TEAM – Josh Miller, Eoghan O’Reilly, Paul Harte, David Poff, Thomas O’Callaghan, Tim Clifford, Adam Kennedy, Cronan Gleeson, Conor Maguire, James Burton, JJ O’Dea, Kieran Murphy, Stephen Boyle, Conor Barry, Matthew Bursey.
Replacements – Craig Telford, Davy Henshaw, Mark Robinson, Rory Stynes, Charlie O’Regan.
SCORERS – Tim Clifford, try; Cronan Gleeson, try, Josh Miller, con.