Wesley settle for AIL draw but rue missed kicks
All Ireland League – Greystones 22 Old Wesley 22
Old Wesley travelled the short distance to Greystones for their last AIL match before the mid season break. Old Wesley enjoyed a dream start when, from the first play of the match, a break by Colin Wallace brought play up to the opposition 22. Some slick handling then led to a try in the corner by Conor Boyd with just 90 seconds on the clock.
From the restart both sides started to settle into the match. The home side opened their account with a penalty after 5 minutes before Barry McLaughlin was narrowly wide with a long range kick. 15 minutes in Greystones had an opportunity to take the lead but their kicker pushed the relatively straightforward kick wide. However they made amends shortly after with a simple kick when Old Wesley were penalised under the posts for a scrum infringement.
On the half hour a good Old Wesley scrum forced Greystones to concede a penalty on their 22 which McLaughlin duly converted to regain the lead. The visitor’s line out was starting to work well and from a line out won against the head they launched a classic back line movement. McLaughlin finished the move running 40 meters and beating a number of tackles to show the opposition defence a clean pair of heels and score under the posts. He obliged by converting his own try to take a 2 score lead. However shortly after it was Greystones who had the final say of the first half converting a long range penalty kick to reduce the deficit to one score at 15-9. Interestingly apart from that short pre half time two score lead by Old Wesley, for the rest of the match there was never more than six points between the two sides.
For the early part of the second half it was the home side that exerted the pressure and from a series of sustained pick and drives they crossed for their first try. The relatively easy conversion was added to give Greystones a 16-15 lead. The hosts were nearly in again but for some solid defence from Old Wesley. But it was the visitors who struck next. A neat break by scrum half Ian Cassidy brought play towards the Greystones 22 when he passed to Ian McGann who sprinted 30 meters to score in the corner; yes he has a habit of doing that. McLaughlin kicked the tricky conversion bringing the score to 22-16 for Old Wesley.
As the final quarter approached there were various options and priorities for both sides. Old Wesley were anxious to secure a win with the added incentive of a possible bonus point try. Greystones, whilst out of reach of a tries bonus point, were chasing a win or at least a draw. Neither side looked like scoring a try but both sides conceded a number of penalties. Greystones took their opportunities, first with a 45 meter kick to narrow the scores and then again with 6 minutes left they levelled the scores with a shorter range penalty. During the same period Old Wesley had three penalty kick attempts. Whilst none were straightforward McLaughlin will be disappointed not to have scored from at least one. Despite a late rally by the visitors the scores remained unchanged at 22 all.
Both sides will be somewhat disappointed with the draw, more so Old Wesley who led for three quarters of the match and scored three tries to the opposition’s one. They will however need to improve their level of discipline and reduce the number of penalties conceded. The draw promotes Old Wesley to 5th in the league and still within striking distance of at least the play off stages.
Old Wesley Scores: Conor Boyd – try; Iain McGann – try; Barry McLaughlin – try, 2 cons, pen
Old Wesley Team: Rory Stynes, Barry McLaughlin, David Potterton, Stephen Harvey, Conor Boyd, Alan Large (capt), Ian Cassidy, Ken Knaggs, Jamie Boyle, Davy Henshaw, Ivan Pirrie, Iain McGann, Stephen Boyle, Thomas Ratahi, Colin Wallace. Subs: Greg Leader, James Burton, John Carroll, Ben Horan, Kieran Hurrell.