AIL – Old Wesley 42 Buccaneers 38
Rugby is a boring game! Whoever thinks that should have witnessed this highly entertaining and exciting match. Played on the All Weather pitch at Donnybrook both teams scored 80 points and 10 tries between them leading to a knife edge finish and a 4 point winning margin.
Buccaneers were the better side for most of the first half getting on the scoreboard after just four minutes when right wing Rory O’Connor beat a couple of Wesley defenders to cross for the first try of the match. Barry McLaughlin opened Old Wesley’s account with a straightforward penalty kick to make it 3-7. The visitors were dealt a blow when Michael Mannion was yellow carded for a foot trip. Wesley responded kicking down the line and from the line out a break led to a try by Ian Cassidy, converted by McLaughlin to make it 10-7. The visitors struck back on 20 minutes when Alan Gaughan crossed for a try, and 2 minutes later they struck again, this time when Shane Leydon found the Wesley defence wanting. Wesley responded and from a good field position inside the opposition 22 Niall O’Brien found a good attacking line to cross under the posts reducing the deficit to 17-21. Winger Rory O’Connor was on hand again finding himself just about able to control a neat cross kick to score in the corner. The visitors were now very much in control and just before half time their number 8 Kolo Kiripati intercepted a pass and sprinted half the length of the pitch to score under the posts. The straightforward conversion saw Buccs go into the half time break leading 35-17 leaving the home side a massive mountain to climb.
But whatever Coach Morgan Lennon said at the break saw Old Wesley come out sharper, hungrier and more focused. 11 minutes into the second half a neat chip by out half Alan Large was misread by the opposition defence. Rory Stynes picked up the loose ball and dodged his way in for a try out wide. Two minutes later a McLaughlin penalty kick brought the score to 25-35. Both sides were now looking to attack but it was Old Wesley who were starting to take control. Mark Rowley in particular stood out as he shrugged off tacklers and gained ground every time he carried the ball.
From a classic back line move Wesley created an overlap on the right wing allowing Billy Ngaweni cross in the corner. McLaughlin nailed the conversion and moments later slotted a penalty kick from 35 meters out making the scoreline 35 all. The supporters on both sides were enthralled by this thrilling affair and no one was leaving their seat. The visitors regained the lead with a drop goal by out half Conor Mckeon, however Wesley were not giving up. With 8 minutes to go some powerful forward pressure saw Wesley pummel the Buccs goal line eventually resulting in a try by substitute James Burton. McLaughlin converted making it 42-38 to Old Wesley. The visitors responded by throwing everything at Wesley, and when Mark Rowley was dealt a yellow card for a ruck infringement it looked like Wesley would struggle to retain the lead. Buccaneers looked like they might score from a kick down the line however some neat defence work by substitute Eoin Stynes allowed Wesley clear the lines. A last play sequence that lasted over 5 minutes saw Rowley return but Ivan Campbell yellow carded. The Wesley defence dug deep resisting enormous pressure before an eventual knock on ended the game. Both sets of players were exhausted but for Old Wesley it was worth it yielding their 2nd bonus point win from 2 matches.
Old Wesley team: Rory Stynes, Barry McLaughlin, Billy Ngawini, Ger Finucane, Niall O’Brien, Alan Large, Ian Cassidy [Capt], Martin Gately, Dave Rowley, Oltian Dervishi, Josh Hinde, Iain McGann, Darren Horan, Stephen Boyle, Mark Rowley. Subs: Craig Telford, James Burton, Ivan Campbell, Garry O’Brien, eoin Stynes
Old Wesley scorers: Ian Cassidy, try; Niall O’Brien, try; Rory Stynes, try; Billy Nwegini, try; James Burton, try, Barry McLaughlin, 4 cons, 3 pens.