Old Wesley got their league campaign back on the rails with a hard fought win over NUIM Barnhall at Donnybrook. Played in conditions that ranged from wet to very wet, the win was due more to capitalising on errors rather than classic rugby ability.
Barnhall looked the hungrier for the opening quarter and had the first scoring opportunity when they were awarded a penalty after just five minutes. However their full back Simon Gillespie pushed the relatively straightforward kick wide. In the first scrum of the match Old Wesley looked to be in trouble against the more physical opposition and conceded another penalty. However they recovered in the next scrum and this time it was the Kildare men that conceded the penalty. Barry McLaughlin had no difficulty in kicking the points. McLaughlin was on target again ten minutes later this time with an excellent long range attempt. Straight from the kick off Wesley kicked downfield and a defence error by the visitors allowed McLaughlin to kick further. With the ball bobbling around the goal line Kieran Hurrell eventually got the grounding for the first try of the match.
Now raining heavily it was Wesley who handled the conditions the better and forced the opposition to make handling errors. However they were unable to add to their score tally. Indeed it was Barnhall who finished the first half with their tails up eventually getting off the mark with a long range penalty kick leaving the half time score at 13-3
For the early stages of the second half play was evenly balanced with neither team able to penetrate into the opposition 22. Not helped by the soft underfoot conditions, both teams struggled in the scrums, more so Old Wesley. From one such scrum Wesley conceded a penalty which Barnhall converted from just outside the 22. McLaughlin had the opportunity to restore the gap 2 minutes later but pushed the 35 meter kick wide.
As the game entered the final quarter Barnhall looked to be gaining the upper hand. When they opted to go down the line with a penalty the Wesley supporters feared the worst. However the attack came to nothing and the Wesley defence held firm. Indeed the nearest the visitors got to scoring was a missed drop goal, which in itself relieved the pressure for Old Wesley. Very much against the run of play a counter attack from inside the Wesley half by Kieran Hurrell brought play into the opposition 22. Spurred on by the sudden territorial advantage the Wesley pack drove on eventually culminating in a try by Ivan Campbell.
With 5 minutes of ordinary time remaining Barnhall eventually crossed in the corner for their first try. However they missed the conversion which would have put them within 7 points of a draw. Any chance of a late Barnhall comeback was halted when McLaughlin struck again with a penalty goal from 35 meters out.
To their credit Barnhall continued into injury time with a late visit to the Wesley 22. But equally the Wesley defence stood firm denying them the loser’s bonus point.
The win leaves Old Wesley in 5th place in the league on equal points with three other teams
Team: Conor Lavelle, Barry McLaughlin, Steven Harvey, Kieran Hurrell, Richie Jermyn, Rory Stynes (capt) ,Ian Cassidy, Kenny Knaggs(capt) Craig Telford, James Burton, Richie Morrow, Paul McCarroll, Darren Horan, Thomas Ratahi, Stephen Boyle. Subs: Davy Henshaw, Josh Hinde, Ivan Campbell, Ben Horan, Eoin Stynes,
Old Wesley scorers: Kieran Hurrell, Ivan Campbell, try each. Barry McLaughlin, 2 cons, 3 pens