AIL – Old Wesley 48 Highfield 15
Old Wesley’s last home AIL match of the season proved to be a highly entertaining affair earning them their biggest win of the season.
For the first half there was little or nothing between the sides, however it was obvious that Highfield’s main asset was their heavy and physical pack compared to Old Wesley, who had the quicker and more skillful back line. The visitors were first on the scoreboard with a fairly straightforward penalty goal after 4 minutes. But a fine break by Ben Horan followed by some good handling brought play into the opposition 22. Richie Jermyn looked like he was in but was called back for a forward pass. However on 25 minutes Jermyn again had possession and this time was able to outpace the defence on the wing to run in untouched for the game’s first try. Barry McLoughlin kicked the easy conversion. As half time approached Old Wesley were forced to absorb enormous pressure deep in their 22 as the opposition pack flexed their muscles. Highfield crossed but desperate defence by Colin Wallace and Ben Horan prevented the grounding. But form the ensuing scrum they swung the ball wide for a try. The conversion went over to give the Corkmen a 10-7 lead going into half time.
A well struck penalty by McLoughlin 4 minutes into the second half leveled the score. Then Wallace picked up a loose ball to launch a counter attack, Ian Cassidy took play into the opposition half feeding to McLoughlin who outpaced the defence to score Wesley’s second try. He converted his own try, then shortly after struck again with a fine penalty goal from 42 meters out bringing the score to 20-10. At this stage the opposition pack was starting to tire and the Old Wesley back line was coming into its own. Cassidy, McLoughlin and Jermyn regularly broke the line with some fine displays of ball handling. Furthermore the Old Wesley back row was moving into top gear with Ben Horan in particular causing all sorts of problems for the opposition.
Approaching the final quarter Wesley’s back line skills paid off when Rob Hallam was put in the clear to score the third try. Wesley were now rampant and the bonus point try looked imminent, and it was. Second rows are not renowned for side steps but Ian McGann bucks the trend. Dancing his way around a couple of defenders he found Rory Stynes who showed great skill and balance to cross for the fourth try. Not prepared to take their foot off the pedal Ben Horan ploughed through a couple of tackles, then McLoughlin chased after his own speculative kick ahead for another converted try bringing the score to 41-10. As 80 minutes approached the visitors did find a defence weakness allowing them to score a consolation try. But in the last play of the game McLoughlin, who surely would gave Usain Bolt a run for his money, struck again with a runaway try which he again converted himself.
This was Old Wesley’s best performance of the season against a team just one place behind them in the league. There were also some great individual performances, not least from Barry McLoughlin who clocked up a personal tally of 33 points on the day that included 8 kicks out of 8.
Click here for Barry’s hat-trick —> http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10151491436728190
Photos to follow