All Ireland League – Old Wesley 24 Dolphin 19
Old Wesley continued their AIL tour of Ireland with a visit to Dolphin in Cork. Old Wesley led from start to finish but had to defend against a late assault to cling on for the win.
Old Wesley started the livelier with a Barry McLaughlin penalty kick after 3 minutes. Play continued mostly between both 22s however a break by Old Wesley out half Alan Large brought play into the opposition 22. Then quick recycled ball saw McLaughlin finish off the move with a try in the corner. He converted his own try to make it 10-0. McLaughlin converted two further penalty kicks to give Old Wesley a handsome 16-0 lead before the half hour. The hosts eventually got off the mark with a penalty goal from 25 meters out by Cian McGovern. This spurred on the Cork side who again brought play into the Wesley 22 eventually resulting in a penalty which McGovern easily converted to make the score 16-6 at half time.
Old Wesley started the second half aggressively however it was Dolphin who were starting to play the smarter rugby. Their endeavours were rewarded when McGovern again struck with a drop goal. Wesley responded with a number or sorties into the opposition 22 and McLaughlin was nearly over again only to be bundled into touch three meters short. Then from Wesley’s next line out deep in the opposition 22 the ball was swung wide to substitute Niall O’Brien who powered over in the corner. Now leading 21-9 it looked like Wesley had it in the bag, however Dolphin had different plans and found new energy in the final quarter of the match. A Dolphin line out 10 meters out from the visitors’ goal line had the Wesley pack in all sorts of trouble. Applying great pressure they forced a penalty and a yellow card for Old Wesley scrum half Adam Kennedy. Dolphin wisely opted for the scrum resulting in a try by Chris Rowe. Crucially they missed the quite kickable conversion. Wesley responded with a straightforward penalty by McLaughlin before Dolphin delivered the best try of the match. Running from their own 22 they found a gap in the Wesley mid field defence. The ball was passed to winger Will Hanly who showed great pace running from the half way line to score mid way between the posts and the corner flag. Again Dolphin missed the conversion leaving the score 24-19. With 5 minutes on the clock Dolphin threw everything at Old Wesley but they will rue some poorly executed line outs. Wesley’s defence dug deep but when Josh Hinde was dealt a yellow card it looked like the dam might burst. Dolphin battered the Wesley line and there were some enormous defensive tackles. Dolphin eventually bundled over but the ball was held up and to the relief of the Wesley players and supporters the ref blew the final whistle.
There will be a lot of tired and bruised bodies for both sides after this hard fought encounter which keeps Old Wesley on top of Division 1B after four matches.
Old Wesley team: Rory Stynes, Barry McLaughlin, Billy Ngawini, Ger Finucane, Eoin Stynes, Alan Large [Capt], Adam Kennedy, Martin Gately, Craig Telford, Davy Henshaw, Josh Hinde, Iain McGann, Darren Horan, Stephen Boyle, Mark Rowley. Subs: James Burton, David Rowley, Michael Triggs, Garry O’Brien, Niall O’Brien
Old Wesley scorers: Niall O’Brien, try;Barry McLaughlin, try, con, 4 pens.