OLD Wesley’s perfect record came to an end at the hands of a dogged and stubborn Naas side last Saturday at Forenaughts but, despite the loss, the losing bonus point proved enough to assure them promotion to Division 1B with three games to spare.
In a tit for tat battle, Naas scored from an early penalty goal but Wesley regrouped quickly, bringing play deep into the opposition 22.
They looked like they might cross for an early try but had to settle for an Ian Cassidy penalty to level the score.
Another penalty nudged Naas 6-3 in front and, just when it was starting to look like a game of kicks, Naas’s strong centre Henry Bryce found a gap in the Wesley defence.
He ran as far as the 22 before delivering a perfect pass to his other centre Johnny Delaney who finished the movement with a try under the posts.
Old Wesley were dealt a blow after 30 minutes when scrum half Cassidy had to retire injured.
His replacement Barry McLaughlin, however, was not long on the pitch when he made a fine break just short of the half line. He passed to Alan Large who looked like he might make it to the line but the referee adjudged the pass forward. McLaughlin was on hand again with a penalty kick to reduce the gap and make the score 13-6 to Naas at half time.
Playing with the significant wind in the second half, Wesley looked the dominant side for the third quarter of the game, regularly bringing play into the opposition 22.
A long range penalty from McLaughlin just fell short hitting the crossbar but he landed his next effort to make it 13 all.
Minutes later, what looked like an odd decision to run a penalty from inside their own half caught the Naas defence napping. McLaughlin took the tap before passing to Large who ran deep into the opposition half. He passed to Steven Harvey who in turn passed to Richie Jermyn who crossed for a try in the corner. McLaughlin kicked the difficult conversion and 20-13 up Old Wesley looked to be in cruise control.
But the hosts were not prepared to give up. With 12 minutes to go, they brought play into the Old Wesley 22 exerting pressure through some slick handling. Wesley kept them out but conceded a penalty under the posts and a yellow card for Mark Rowley.
Naas slotted the kick with ease to leave four points between the sides. This spurred on the Kildare men and with six minutes remaining Bryce, who caused headaches for Wesley all afternoon, shrugged off a couple of tackles to cross for a try and the winning points.