All Ireland League – Old Wesley 14 Buccaneers 41
Old Wesley continued their poor record against Buccaneers in the All Ireland League when falling to a heavy defeat in Dubarry Park last Saturday, with the final scoreline not really a true reflection of the possession and territory which Wesley held throughout the match. The ability of Buccaneers to take almost all the available chances, allied to some loose defending by Wesley, certainly exacerbated the final scoreline.
The home side shot out of the blocks and had their first try on 4 minutes, when some strong carries and crisp passing created gaps in the Wesley defence with winger, Darragh Corbett, crossing in the corner, for the excellent Luke Carty to add the points – 7-0 Buccs. Worse was to follow on 7 minutes, when an initial knock-on put the Wesley defence under pressure and the mistakes were compounded for Corbett to pounce on the bobbling ball to ground for another try converted again by Carty – 14-0 Buccs. Wesley, to their credit, responded immediately to these early reverses and a great run by the captain, Paul Harte, caused problems and a wonderful 60 metre punt by Rory Stynes kept the pressure on Buccs. A great scrum by Wesley led to a penalty and from the subsequent movement; Harte burst over in the corner for a great try, with Stynes adding the points with an excellent kick – 14-7 Buccs after 17 minutes.
From here to half-time, Wesley had their best spell of the match, with the scrum dominance setting up a great platform to attack the Buccs defence. JJ O’Dea (Wesley’s man of the match) complemented a couple of great turnovers with some barnstorming runs up the field, with Mark Rowley also becoming more influential at this stage. Despite all this pressure, there was no further score before half time, with crucial handling errors letting Wesley down on a number of occasions.- Half time 14-7 Buccs.
Wesley needed to start the second half well and initial signs were good, with O’Dea making another trademark charge. But when the move eventually broke down, Buccs pounced on a wayward pass to run the length of the field for a well worked clinical try by Thomas McGann, which was cruel for the visitors. Carty added the points for Buccs to lead 21-7 on 43 minutes. This was chillingly comparable to the start of the first half and, on 45 minutes, Buccs struck again when Wesley, chasing the game, threw a long pass which was intercepted by Buccs centre, Rory O’Connor, who ran in from 50 metres to dot down for another converted try. The Buccs lead of 28-7 at this stage, was the result of 2 tries conceded in the early minutes of each half, which ultimately proved terminal for Wesley. Buccs continued to take their chances and a further brace of excellently struck penalties by Carty pushed the scoreline out to 34-7.
Wesley never gave up and, on 61 minutes, after a very well controlled rolling maul, prop James Burton crashed over for Stynes to convert – 34-14. Indeed, the rolling maul and scrum functioned very well for Wesley throughout the match and could have yielded further inroads in the Buccs defence. With 15 minutes to go, Wesley needed 2 converted tries to grab a couple of bonus points and, in fairness, they had a real go. But the Buccs defence held firm, despite one great run by accomplished out-half, Tom Kiersey, which was stopped just short. In a final cruel twist and reflective of the general trend of the match, Buccs, once again, capitalised on their next scoring opportunity by rumbling over from a rolling maul, with Carty, inevitably, adding the points. Final scoreline -Old Wesley 14 Buccaneers 41.
Wesley now have a short break until the next match away to Banbridge on Saturday 3rd November, when there is no doubt but that we will bounce back from this reverse.
OLD WESLEY SCORERS – Paul Harte, try; James Burrton, try, Rory Stynes, 2 cons.
TEAM – Rory Stynes, Tommy O’Callaghan, Bill Corrigan, Alan Gaughan, Paul Harte (c), Tom Kiersey, Charlie O’Regan, Harry Noonan, Andrew McCrann, James Burton, JJ O’Dea, Iain McGann, Paul Derham, Josh Pim, Mark Rowley. REPLACEMENTS – Craig Telford, Padraig Cullen, Donnchadh Phelan, David Poff, Josh Miller.