Old Wesley RFC V St Mary’s College RFC
UB AIL Division 1B
Energia Stadium, Donnybrook
Saturday 15th December 2018.
St Marys remain top of Division1B table after this difficult encounter with Old Wesley. Although disappointed, there are good reasons to be optimistic. This was a close encounter of the sporting kind and there remains much for which to look forward.
If you add the weight of the players in the Old Wesley pack and do the same for the Marys’ pack, then subtract the Marys pack weight from that of Wesley, the difference was to agreat extent, the difference. There were of course too, other factors. Old Wesley’s line-outs were excellent, their ball retention secure and their driving, powerful. Overall they are apowerful disciplined team which played to its strengths.
The visitors, significantly, were without their injured captain, Modser, their top ball carrier David Aspil and one of their leaping Liams, Liam Curran, injured last week. Playing in a diluvian Energia Park (Donnybrook) on a G4 pitch was a real challenge, as was the fact that there was considerable recidivism in the line-out performance. Had Marys been playing with the maelstrom-like gale and rain in the first half rather than the second, there well may have been a different outcome. That is not to say that on the day, Old Wesley did not deserve their first ever victory overMarys in the AIL. They did.
That all noted, with a very young, inexperienced backline and a relatively light pack, St Marys were battlingto win right up to the 79th minute and certainly can feel unfortunate not to garner a losing bonus point. In spite of the weight deficit Marys generally gave nigh as good as they got. The scrum again was dominant and there was good reason to be disappointed that they did not get much more from this area. Likewise, in open play the pack performed well, with loose head, Tommer, notably involved. Once again the backrow was commendable with the captain Nick, and returning Mark Fallon determined and effective in defence and back up. Young, Ronan Watters is a lithe, indefatigable athlete, with almost the capability of multi-location. He has pace, good hands and judgement. He has the strength of a much heavier man and can leap like a leopard.He topped the tackle count and was high in the carry count. He adds to lineout options and can be seen frequently encouraging. He seems to really enjoy his rugby. He received the SoftCo MoM award.
Despite the missing players and the rearrangements, the young backline came close on a number times. Here the halves again impressed and David Fanagan in particular, at 15, kept the Wesley defence under stress.
In the first half on 30 seconds,and 13 minutes, Deano scored two fine long distance penalties, before a slip up in defence let Old Wesley in for a converted try on 25 minutes. Play was even,before Deano again from almost the halfway, made it 7-9; then on 38 minutes a penalty for offside gave Wesley the halftime lead 10-9.
The second half saw Wesley, the wet gale behind them, with a lot ofpossession. It was 66 minutes whenWesley went further ahead with a penalty; 13-9. Marys then had a good period of fastattacking rugby. They were unlucky not to get over the line on a couple of occasions. Then a fortuitous breakaway, a kick to the corner and a defensive slip not only allowed Wesley break the siege but from then to the end, they used their big pack to hammer our line. The Marys defence was excellent, well organised and unflinching. It looked as though we would get the losing bonus point , but eventually with 79 minutes onthe clock, weight of numbers and personnel told, and Wesley scored and converted to make the final score 20-9.
It will now be 19th January2019, before we resume and play Old Wesley at home in the return fixture. At home, with a full team and any kind of reasonable weather, we should be able to look forward with some optimism. Steve’s squad will have a short break before working hard andbuilding up to that date.
After the first half of theleague campaign, with young squad making up an “enfant terrible” under the progressive regime of Steve, Jamie, Barry, Modser and Paudge (with Pokey, Ruaidhri and Ian) . The club can feel confident and grateful heading into Xmas. The added support from the overarching RC under DoR Alan (with Kevin and Quinner) has also been important.
You too can be pleased and proud of the support that has helped the players very much.
You are entitled to a slight rest over Xmas and New Year. Your correspondent adds wishes for a Happy Christmas to all. You can put away your pince-nez until after 19th.January.
Team (Rolling Replacements X 12)
15 D Fanagan, 14 H Conway, 13 C Kennedy, 12 Myles Carey, 11 R Shields, 10 CDean, 9 P O’Driscoll, 8 M Fallon, 7 R Watters, 6 N McCarthy (Capt), 5 HDiepman, 4 L Corcoran, 3 M McCormack, 2 S O’Brien, 1 T O’Reilly, R Halpin, P Dundon, D Mc Donnell, M Kennedy, T McMahon.