Wesley make it five in a row with Malone win

by Aaron Dunne
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On a bright and breezy November afternoon in Energia Park , Donnybrook, Old Wesley scored their fifth consecutive victory in this year’s All Ireland League Div. 1B with a narrow and hard fought 16-11 over visitors from Belfast, Malone, who belied their lowly league position with an excellent performance. 

This victory leaves Old Wesley level at the top of the table with Highfield, with the Cork club being marginally ahead on points differential.

In truth, Old Wesley will be the first to admit to being a trifle lucky in eeking out a narrow victory despite spending most of the second half in their own territory.

The first half started promisingly , with scrum half , Ian Cassidy ,knocking over a good penalty after 4 minutes to open the scoring. Malone, with the benefit of the swirling wind, levelled immediately with a penalty by winger, Rory Campbell.

Both sides were playing lively entertaining rugby and, after 8 minutes, following an excellent movement , Old Wesley’s no. 8, Reuben Pim showed brilliant hands in picking up a long pass off his boots to cross in the corner without losing any momentum. Cassidy, with an excellent kick, slotted the conversion ( Old Wesley 10-3).

On 12 minutes, Cassidy added another penalty to stretch the Wesley lead to a useful looking 13-3.

Malone came back very strongly but, despite some attractive back line movements , they were unable to breach the stubborn Wesley defence , with a great “jackal” under the posts by JJ O’Dea and excellent defensive reads throughout by Eoin Deegan and Tommy O’Callaghan succeeding in thwarting the Belfast men .

Finally, on 28 minutes, Malone finally breached the Wesley defence with a well worked try , finished off by winger, Andy Bryans. Campbell failed to add the points ( Old Wesley 13-8).

Soon after, Cassidy, who had a crucial 100 per cent strike rate on the day, kicked another excellent penalty to stretch the lead to 16-8, and this , after  30 minutes, would prove to be the home side’s final score.

In the second period, Malone were virtually camped in Wesley territory  for most of the half. However , the wall of defence displayed by Wesley in adversity was very impressive in snuffing out all Malone’s attempts to score. A certain naivety and lack of composure displayed by Malone was definitely a contributing factor also in keeping the second half scoreless until the 77th minute , when Campbell finally made it a “ one score” game with a penalty , with three minutes remaining, Wesley holding on for another big win.

Photo: Deryck Vincent

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