AIL – Old Wesley 38 – Navan 15
After last weekend’s disappointing result in Belfast Old Wesley were anxious to bounce back in this refixed match against Navan. And this they did with a comprehensive victory dominating play for much of the match.
Wesley certainly got into the groove early applying pressure and taking play into opposition territory. After just 4 minutes Rory Stynes looked to have snuck in in the corner only to be tackled into touch. 4 minutes later Wesley had a penalty on the Navan 22 and, showing early intent, opted to kick for touch. The decision proved right as, after a number of good carries and using the full width of the pitch, a long pass by James O’Donovan found Tommy O’Callaghan on the wing. Still with some work do, the winger succeeded in beating the tackler to score in the corner. Soon after the restart Navan were awarded a penalty 30 minutes out, which out half Colm O’Reilly converted with confidence.
17 minutes in and Wesley were awarded another penalty which again they opted to kick down the line. The line out was won cleanly and this time Navan had no answer as the Wesley pack drove to the line for Ben Burns to ground for try number 2. However Stynes missed the relatively straightforward conversion; unusual considering his own high standards. A mishit clearance kick then meant Wesley spent some time defending their own. This they did solidly and a penalty conceded by the visitors allowed Wesley to lift the siege. Then a fine break by Conor Barry, taken on by Iain McGann and Tommy O’Callaghan had play back deep into the Navan 22. Shortly after and following some more skilful handling by the Wesley players Stynes found himself in open space where he crossed the line to score with relative ease. But this time he struck the kick perfectly to claim the extra points; indeed from then on he was faultless with his place kicking.
As the clock approached half time Wesley had another line out inside the opposition 22. Another good take, followed by some excellent phases of play, finishing with a long pass to Stynes, this time on the other wing, who beat a couple of tacklers to score 7 metres in from touch. With the excellent conversion it was 24-3 to the home side at half time and the bonus point (at least) in the bag.
Wesley started the 2nd half where they left off and had an early line out from a penalty kick 5 metres from the Navan goal line. The line out, which worked like a well oiled machine all evening, was taken cleanly and in a training ground move Ben Burns sneaked in for a try in the corner. Once again Stynes nailed the difficult conversion. 10 minutes later, and yes, from a cleanly taken line out the ball was swung out the back line to O’Donovan. Even he looked surprised with the amount of open space in front of him as he sprinted to the line untouched for Wesley’s 6th try, converted by Stynes. Everything now seemed to be going Old Wesley’s way as Navan struggled to make any inroads or retain possession. Playing with confidence and style Wesley displayed their superior handling skills. Substitute Josh Miller looked to be heading for try number 7 but was pulled back for a forward pass.
However with 70 minutes on the clock Navan eventually found an extra gear. After a Wesley handling error in their own half, substitute Riaan Van Der Vyver picked up a loose ball and proved unstoppable as he crossed for Navan’s first try under the post. Indeed the South African had a major impact on the game from his introduction. 5 minutes later and another miscommunication in the Wesley camp had Navan back on the attack resulting in their 2nd try, this time by another substitute Christian Byrne.
Navan now looked a totally different side and after a yellow card to O’Callaghan for not rolling in the tackle, they again had Wesley on the back foot. A second yellow card, this time for prop Stephen McGivern for a scrum offence had Wesley down to 13 men. Ironically this worked somewhat to Navan’s disadvantage, as in the next scrum Wesley had no replacement prop and the referee declared uncontested scrums. Now with the clock in the red Navan looked to be over for their third try however the ball was held up and fulltime immediately followed.
So Old Wesley go into the midseason break on a positive note 8 point ahead of third placed Banbridge and just 2 points off league leaders Highfield. Next up it’s the return fixture against Malone where Wesley will be hoping the all weather pitch will suit their style of play better.
Old Wesley Team :Rory Stynes, Tommy O’Callaghan, James Donovan, David Poff, Paul Harte, Tom Kiersey, Craig Miller, Conor Maguire, Ben Burns, James Burton, JJ O’Dea, Iain McGann (c), Conor Barry, Josh Pim, Paul Derham. Replacements- Craig Telford, Stephen McGivern, Mark Rowley, Josh Miller, Ed O’Keeffe.
Scorers – Rory Stynes, 2 tries, 4 cons; Tommy O’Callaghan, try; Ben Burns, 2 tries; James O’Donovan, try.