Under 20 Premiership Qualifier – Old Wesley 20 Old Belvedere 20
On a clear sunny afternoon in Energia Park Old Wesley hosted OId Belvedere in their opening JP Fanagan Prem 1 Qualifier. It was a thoroughly entertaining match with both teams showing composure and skill in attack and defence, making it a very evenly matched game between both teams. In the end the 20 -20 draw was probably a fair result but Old Wesley may rue a couple of missed conversions from difficult angles and a penalty kick from the half way line on the stroke of full time to win the match.
Both teams scored 3 very well taken tries with Old Wesley through Jack Hunt opening up the scoring on 13 minutes following some nice hands in the back line to put the winger through in the corner. Without the difficult conversion the score was 5-0 to the home team. From the restart there was indecision from the home team leading to immediate pressure on the Wesley 22. A succession of penalties were conceded following the Belvedere pressure and the visitors eventually scored close to the posts and with the conversion added it was 5-7 to the visitors on 20 minutes.
Strong running by Jack Kennedy and then a direct break from Sam Illo led the Old Wesley u20s deep into the Belvedere 22 and following some hard forward rucking resulted in a penalty to the home team in front of the posts, and with Andrew Vincent converting it was 8-7 to Wesley and 30 minutes played.
Again Old Wesley didn’t execute the exit from the subsequent restart with conviction resulting with a penalty which Belvo chose to kick to the corner. The following line out led to a try from their pack to the right of the posts and with the conversion meant that the visitors led 12 – 8.
The second half saw some substitutions with Will Stoten and Gary Hawe coming on for Zak Bursey and Jamie Vard. Following breaks from Luke Thompson and Stephen Keane, Wesley got a series of penalties bringing play close to the Belvedere line. Some slick hands from the resulting line out saw Andrew Vincent get his first try of the season finishing off a fine move in the left hand corner. The conversion was just short and 10 mins into the 2nd half Old Wesley regained the lead 13-12.
Debutant scrum half Liam Crowley made a try saving tackle and turnover to lift the siege on 25 minutes in the 2nd half but shortly afterwards following more scrum pressure the visitors had a penalty in front of the posts which they converted to lead 13-15.
Andrew Ross made a significant break with another new comer and substitute Robert Byrne advancing close to the line and finally Sam Illo was able to drive himself over the line for a well-executed try. With the conversion from Andrew Vincent the home team was 20-15 up with 10 minutes left.
Old Belvedere were by no means down and out and within a couple of minutes stole a crucial line out and with the strength of their pack were over the line for a try close to the corner flag. The conversion was missed and going into the final few minutes it was a tied game at 20-20. Just on the stroke of full time Belvo were pinged for not releasing. Jack Kennedy took a shot to nothing from the half way line. While the distance wasn’t an issue the kick was pulled to the left of the posts. The final whistle sounded and both teams were left to rue what might have been.
Belvo had the consolation of knowing that they had qualified but for Wesley and Marys the shoot out for the final space was yet to be decided.