AIL – Old Wesley 33 Navan 5
It wasn’t coronavirus that was the health risk on Saturday at Navan, but rather hypothermia. Great credit must go to both sets of players who battled against cold, wet and windy conditions with constant precipitation ranging from rain to snow.
Playing with the wind in the first half it was the home side who opened the scoring after just 4 minutes with a try following the scrum being pushed over the line. Wesley responded making a number of visits to the opposition 22, but with the adverse weather conditions handling errors were always going to be a factor, and the opposition were able to relieve the pressure, kicking downfield.
20 minutes in Wesley were again in the Navan 22 and this time the visit paid off. After some steady pressure and controlled ball carries the pack eventually drove over with scrum half Craig Miller claiming the grounding. Even though the conversion was straight in front of the posts it was no easy task into the stiff wind, however Rory Stynes was on target for a 7-5 lead.
5 minutes later Navan were dealt a major blow when their second row, Jackson, was shown a red card for an illegal tackle on Ben Burns. By coincidence Ben’s brother Sam was playing for Highfield, and, at virtually the same time, one of his opposition players received a similar punishment for foul play.
Both side held their own until half time when the teams left the pitch for a welcome jersey change and some warmth. But now playing with the huge wind advantage, and Navan down a player, the cards were stacked in Old Wesley’s favour for the second half.
Indeed just 2 minutes into the second period Wesley won a scrum against the head and kicked to touch near the opposition goal line. Then after Navan conceded a 5 metre scrum the Wesley pack piled on the pressure resulting in a try near the posts for Josh Pim. Stynes again converted and it was already clear which team was going to win. But the question was, could they claim the bonus point in the difficult conditions.
19 minutes in, Wesley again had Navan in difficulties with a penalty kick to touch just 8 metres out. A good lineout take and drive had the Navan pack buckling and they were forced to infringe resulting in a penalty try, and also a yellow card to one of their props. A neat chip by substitute out half Josh Miller nearly led to a try for David Poff before Navan were saved by the touch line. Minutes later Donnchadh Phelan looked to have scored but the referee saw a ruck infringement. With 5 minutes on the clock and the Wesley supporters showing concern about the bonus it all came good when Stephen Boyle scored try number 4 off the back of a maul. Both sides were now longing for the full time whistle as neither team had anything further to gain. However play continued and with the hosts now showing signs of exhaustion Wesley had one more bite of the cherry. Right from the kick off Wesley attacked from a scrum inside the Navan 22 and Pim crossed for his second try of the match. To everyone’s delight the full time whistle blew and rarely has a pitch been cleared of players so quickly.
Other results went in Old Wesley’s favour and they are still holding down second place in the league, 5 points clear of third placed Shannon, but 9 points adrift of leaders Highfield.
Old Wesley Team :Rory Stynes, Tommy O’Callaghan, James O’Donovan, David Poff, Richie Walsh, Tom Kiersey, Craig Miller, Harry Noonan, Ben Burns, Conor Maguire, Donnchadh Phelan, Iain McGann (c), Ian Condell, Josh Pim Paul Derham. Replacements- Luke Thompson, James Burton, Stephen Boyle, Josh Miller, Paul Harte.
Scorers – Craig Miller, try; Josh Pim, 2 tries; Stephen Boyle, try; Rory Stynes, 3 cons; Penalty try.