OLD WESLEY scored a vital victory over current AIL Division 1B leaders Highfield to maintain their 100% record, putting them in range of taking over should they win their game in hand.
It was a pulsating encounter in Energia Park, Donnybrook with the final scoreline of 25-22.
Highfield got off to a very lively start, engineered an opening try in the corner for winger, Paul Stack. The Donnybrook side struck soon when David Poff ran a great line to ground far out in the corner; Rory Stynes narrowly missed the conversion, 5-5.
The large and well-drilled Highfield pack gave the Wesley eight a serious examination but the home side stuck manfully to the task despite being under pressure in the scrums.
But, from the move of the match, Poff passed on the inside to Stynes, who returned the pass and the centre made a great break. A sublime long pass followed to fellow centre Ed O’Keefe who streaked over in the corner.
Stynes embellished this wonderful score by landing the conversion from the touch line for a 12-5 lead. Inevitably, Highfield struck back and, despite some heroic defence, Wesley finally conceded a penalty on 35 minutes which out-half Shane O’Riordan calmly converted.
Stynes replied with a three-pointer for Wes six minutes into the second half for a 15-8 lead.
Highfield continued their forward pressure in pursuit of an equalising score but a great turnover penalty by Paul Derham seemed to have lifted the siege. But the hosts lost the ensuing line-out and Highfield made the most of it. After a number of passages of play, second row Eoin Keating went over for a try, converted by O’Sullivan for 15 all.
From a scrum turnover, the ever-reliable Stynes duly slotted to inch Wesley into the lead again from another penalty.
But with 13 minutes left, things looked bleak when Highfield drove over for a converted try, scored by Colin O’Neill, to take the lead 22-18.
Wesley showed their reservoir of confidence to bounce back and immediately gained a foothold in the Highfield half. Tom Kiersey made a typically incisive break through the eye of a needle and replacement flanker, Josh Pim crashed over from the ensuing ruck. Stynes added the extras.
The drama was not over, however, as Highfield stormed back and had the home defence under strong pressure but some Herculean tackling from the Wesley defence kept them at bay.
Highfield, in pursuit of a winning try and a bonus point, eschewed two kickable penalties for a draw but the final action saw Wesley superbly rob an attacking five metre line-out to get the ball off the park in advance of the final whistle.
Highfield remain three points clear but Wesley have a game in hand with Old Belvedere seven points further back.