AIL – Old Wesley 18 UCC 19
Despite a late rally and some late scoring opportunities Old Wesley lost out by just a point to UCC at Donnybrook.
The visitors had the first scoring opportunity with a 45-metre penalty goal attempt, but the kick was left and wide. Wesley were guilty of conceding further penalties and eventually paid a high price. From a quick penalty tap just inside the Wesley 22 UCC brought play up to the goal line. They continued the attack and eventually crossed for a try out wide by Sean Condon.
Old Wesley were dealt a huge blow shortly after when full back Alex Molloy had to go off injured. He was replaced by Ian Cassidy. Wesley looked to be getting their act together when Josh Miller kicked a penalty to narrow the opposition lead, but their recovery did not last long. Wesley won a scrum on their 22 but the ball went loose. It was picked up by a UCC player leading to a try under the posts, converted to make it 12-3 for the students.
Two penalties conceded by UCC gave Wesley their first decent scoring opportunity, however they lost their own line out 20 metres out; a problem that went on to haunt the home side for much of the match. Approaching the half-hour mark a loose ball was kicked downfield by David Poff and well collected by Nathan Randles. After some good handling and a perfectly timed final pass by Cronan Gleeson, the ball got to Sam Pim who crossed under the posts for Wesley’s first try, converted by Ian Cassidy. This sparked an improvement in the Wesley side however there were no further scores before half time. Half time score Old Wesley 10 UCC 12.
Wesley’s brief resurgence continued early in the second half when UCC conceded a penalty on their own 22. Cassidy kicked the points with ease and for the first time in the match Wesley led 13-12. But the lead was short lived. A well placed kick earned UCC a 50/22 line out well inside the Wesley 22. The line out was won and they mauled towards the Wesley line. Wesley offended and the referee awarded a penalty try.
Wesley responded with some enterprising play, with Tommy O’Callaghan in particular proving elusive and difficult to catch. But Wesley were soon in trouble again when David Motyer received a yellow card for a dangerous tackle. Despite the player disadvantage, and to their credit, Wesley kept UCC from scoring during the 10 minute yellow card period or indeed for the rest of the match. From a 15 metre line out Wesley made some valuable inroads and good carries. Eoin Deegan looked like he would cross for a try but was denied by a knock on. With the game now in the final quarter Wesley kept up the pressure. From another line out the ball was won cleanly and they continued to maul and cross the line for a try by Howard Noonan. Frustratingly the conversion, which would have given Wesley a one point lead, came back off the left upright.
Wesley were soon back in the opposition 22. There were some promising carries but the UCC defence held firm and when the visitors regained possession it looked like they would weather the storm. Then with just two minutes remaining UCC conceded a penalty on their own 22 directly in front of the posts. Could Wesley snatch a victory? Ian Cassidy was called on to kick for goal but the normally very reliable kicker had a rare mishit and pulled the kick left and wide allowing UCC to claim the honours.
There is now a three-week gap before our next match, away to Malone
Scorers: Sam Pim, try; Howard Noonan, try; Harry Noonan, try; Josh Miller, pen; Ian Cassidy, con, pen.
Team: Alex Molloy, Nathan Randles, David Poff, Eoin Deegan, Tommy O’Callaghan, Josh Miller, Keith Kavanagh, Harry Noonan, Howard Noonan, Cronan Gleeson, David Motyer, Iain McGann (capt), Sam Pim, Will Fay, Reuben Pim.
Replacements: Dom McClean, Sam Kenny, Brian Short, Josh O’Hare, Ian Cassidy, Eoin Monahan.