AIL Division 1B
Old Belvedere 10
Old Wesley 11
OLD WESLEY won the closest of local derbies by the closest of margins as they edged out Old Belvedere 11-10 in AIL Division 1B at Ollie Campbell Park.
Played in driving rain from start to finish, this match was always going to have a high error count. But, to their credit, both sides competed with enthusiasm throughout.
Wesley looked to have had the better start, gaining early ground and winning the first line out against the head, however the move ended with a conceded penalty.
It was the home side who were first on the scoreboard after eight minutes. From a line-out 25 metres out, the Belvo pack had their Wesley opponents on the back foot as they mauled and drove towards the goal line resulting in a try by hooker John McKee.
It was 25 minutes in before Wesley had a strong foothold in opposition territory. A Belvedere knock-on yielded a scrum seven-metres out and while the defence initially held firm, they conceded a penalty 20 metres out which Rory Stynes had no difficulty converting.
From the restart, a deft kick by Tom Kiersey had play back in the same zone and Belvo conceded a second penalty from a subsequent line-out which Stynes had no difficulty in kicking for a 6-5 lead.
The hosts fought back and camped in the Wesley 22 however the threat abated after a knock on but they did take the lead when flanker Jack Kelly intercepted a pass and sprinted nearly half the pitch to touch down for a try.
The relatively straightforward conversion by Steve Crosby came back off the upright; a miss that the home team would later rue despite a 10-6 half-time lead.
Wesley had most of the scoring opportunities of the second half. The first came following a penalty and yellow card against Belvedere prop Roman Solanoa for a late tackle, however Stynes pushed the kick wide.
Two more efforts for a three-pointer were also spurned while a five-metre scrum was spoiled by a knock-on and came to nothing.
With 20 minutes to go, Wes stole a Belvo line out inside the 22. After some good hands and strong carries, Ben Burns looked to be over but the referee spotted a forward pass.
But, just as it looked like their chance was slipping away, a powerful carry by James O’Donovan suddenly had the opposition on the back foot, bringing play into the Belvo 22 where they conceded a penalty.
With five points needed for a win, Wesley wisely kicked down the line for a line out. The gamble paid off and after a perfectly executed Wesley pack move ploughed over allowing Conor Barry to ground for a try and a one point lead.
Belvo gathered the restart but Wesley restricted them to one last penalty from long distance. It went wide and the visitors had the win.