Seniors clinch Hinch scalp in close fought match
All Ireland League – Old Wesley 19 Ballynahinch 17
In a hard fought and tight encounter Old Wesley claimed another valuable victory, this time away to Ballynahinch.
Old Wesley had the better of the early exchanges paying a number of visits into the opposition 22, however no scores ensued. 9 minutes into the game Wesley were awarded a penalty 20 metres out, which Rory Stynes converted without any difficulty for the first score of the match. Then on the 20 minute mark, ‘Hinch struck with the first try of the match. Following a quick line out and a carry from Ulster hooker Zac McCall, centre Rory Butler crossed to score under the posts. Jonny McPhilips converted to make it 7-3 to the home side. Wesley responded and, following a Ballynahinch knock on and conceding a penalty just 10 metres out, Stynes again kicked the points to narrow the deficit.
A break by Charlie O’Regan, and some slick handling had Wesley again deep in opposition territory, however the attack ended after a knock on. 5 minutes later another promising attack gave Wesley a line out 5 metres from the ‘Hinch line. The hosts held their line but in doing so conceded a penalty and yellow card to No 8 Conal Boomer. Opting for a scrum James O’Donovan was stopped less than a metre from the line out. From the next phase the ball was intercepted by a defender and kicked down field, and it looked like the opportunity was gone. But from the counter attack the ball was swung wide through Alan Gaughan and Paul Harte to JJ O’Dea who, using his elusive running skills, got in for a try in the corner. The conversion into a stiff breeze was missed but Wesley were back in the lead. Just before half time ‘Hinch kicked a penalty goal to leave it 11-10 to Old Wesley at half time.
But Wesley were dealt a huge blow when ‘Hinch speedy winger, Ross Adair crossed for a converted try just 45 seconds after the restart. Amazingly however, this was to be the Ulstermen’s last score of the afternoon. 8 minutes into the half Wesley were awarded a penalty inside the opposition half. They opted to kick down the line and found a good touch 10 metres out. From the line out and after some well controlled carries and phases of play the ball was passed to the wing where Tommy O’Callaghan, still with some work, who beat the defender to touch down in the corner. The difficult conversion fell short to leave Wesley just one point behind. 10 minutes later ‘Hinch had a long range penalty effort, but the kick went wide.
Now approaching the final quarter Wesley were starting to apply their authority on the match, forcing knock ons and winning some key turnovers. With 5 minutes remaining they brought play up to within 5 metres of the opposition goal line, and in their desperation to defend ‘Hinch conceded a penalty and a yellow card to substititute Bradley Wilson. No pressure, but cool as could be Stynes struck the kick perfectly to take the lead. Ballynahinch had a late penalty near the touchline which they opted to kick down the line. However they botched the line out and from the ensuing scrum, sub scrum half Josh Miller knew exactly what to do, kicking to touch for end of match.
This was a huge win against a side that has not lost at home this season. It also maintains Old Wesley’s 100% win record north of the border. Next week it’s another Ulster side, Ballymena. They are currently propping up the league table and will, no doubt, be fighting for their lives to avoid relegation. So expect another tough encounter at Eaton Park.
OLD WESLEY SCORERS – JJ O’Dea, try; Tommy O’Callaghan, try; Rory Stynes, 3 penalties.
TEAM – Rory Stynes, Tommy O’Callaghan, Alan Gaughan, James O’Donovan, Paul Harte (captain), Tim Clifford, Charlie O’Regan, Harry Noonan., Ben Burns, Cronan Gleeson, Iain McGann, JJ O’Dea, Conor Barry, Josh Pim, Paul Derham. REPLACEMENTS Craig Telford, Ciaran McHugh, Stephen Boyle, David Poff, Josh Miller.
Click here for photos by Ken Richardson