AIL – Old Wesley 31 Queen’s University Belfast 21
Old Wesley maintained their 100% record in the All Ireland League with a 31-21 victory over Queen’s University Belfast. However Wesley will be disappointed not to have earned the bonus point.
The match started in torrential rain causing both teams to make handling errors in the early encounters. A fine early break by Rory Stynes brought play in to the Queens 22 but it came to naught from one such handling error. But 11 minutes in Stynes was again in action with a neatly struck penalty kick bringing play to 6 metres from the Queens line. From the ensuing line out Wesley secured good ball for the pack to drive over the line for a try by Richie Morrow. Wesley were nearly over 2 minutes later following a cross kick, but Barry McLaughlin could not control the catch, however it was penalty advantage and McLaughlin converted the relatively straightforward kick. He extended the lead to 11 nil on 26 minutes with a similar penalty goal. Then on the half hour mark Wesley had a line out on the opposition 22. Again they won clean ball and the home team pack proceeded to batter their way towards the line. Iain Cassidy eventually broke through a couple of tackles and offloaded to Stephen Harvey who crossed untouched for a try. McLaughlin converted to make it 18 nil. The lineout was the platform again approaching half time. This time it was Darren Haran who scrambled over the line to score after some fine carries by the pack. McLaughlin did the needful again to give Wesley a healthy 25 nil lead going into half time.
By now the rain had eased and indeed the sun had appeared. The Wesley supporters were also anticipating a comfortable bonus point win. But it was the Ulster men who struck first crossing for their first score 7 minutes into the second half. The straightforward conversion made it 25-7. Wesley responded with some good carries including a 40 meter run down the wing by Stynes. But play broke down and the visitors defence held out. McLaughlin kicked two penalty goals to extend the Wesley lead to 31-7 but they were running out of time in their quest for the bonus point try. A high tackle on Richie Jermyn led to a line out in the Queens 22, but despite persistent pressure the Students’ defence stood firm and they eventually cleared their line. A turnover by Kenny Knaggs brought play back into the opposition 22, but once again it came to nothing. Then it was the turn of the visitors as they brought play into the Wesley 22 and eventually crossing for their second try. Wesley responded by running everything. But just when it looked like the visitors were starting to tire Queens were able to pick up on a long flat pass to score an intercept try. They converted to make the score 31-21. With the clock now in injury time and despite some late rallies by Wesley the score remained unchanged as the referee blew the final whistle.
Team: Rory Stynes, Barry McLaughlin, Ger Finucane, Steven Harvey, Richie Jermyn, Alan Large (capt), Ian Cassidy, Ken Knaggs, David Rowley, James Burton, Richie Morrow, Michael Dunleavy, Darren Horan, Stephen Boyle, Mark Rowley. Subs: Andrew McCrann, Jurgen Steinbach, Josh Hinde, Oltian Dervishi, Alan Jeffares,
Old Wesley scorers: Richie Morrow, try; Darren Horan, try; Steven Harvey, try; Barry McLaughlin, 2 cons, 4 pens