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Old Wesley 23 – Naas 31 2018-11-09 22:00:00

Trailing entering the final ten minutes, Naas with two late tries secured a memorable victory over Old Wesley at Donnybrook last Friday night, gaining a priceless try bonus point, and going four clear at the top of Division 1B of the All Ireland League. Not surprisingly the hosts were stunned by this sensational finish, but left the Naas supporters in jubliant form as they headed for home.

Thankfully the heavy rain which battered the eastern side of the country relented in time for kick-off, and both sides immediately set out their stall to play open, running rugby. Within four minutes this policy paid dividends for Wesley. A charging run by big second row J.J. O’Dea took play right up to the 22 and a series of great off loads created a big overlap out on the right, leading to Josh Miller scoring. The very relliable Rory Stynes convered to give the home side a 7-0 lead.

Within six minutes Naas were level. Wesley were penalised for hands in a ruck and Peter Hastie kicked for the corner. A fine take from the line-out by Will O’Brien launched a stirring Naas attack, and while Wesley defended well Naas were patient and kept going through the phases until Paulie Tolofua made the most of a bit of space out wide left to crash over. The conversion was right out on the sideline but this made no difference to Peter Osborne who slotted it over.

One worrying aspect for Naas in the first half was the pressure that their scrum was being put under and it cost them a score after 24 minutes. Wesley were awarded a scrum on the Naas ten-yard line, the referee deemed that the visitors wheeled it and gave the the home side a penalty which Stynes made no mistake with. The scrum again cost Naas on 33 minutes. This time they were penalised for collapsing, but Wesley declined a shot at goal. Instead they kicked to the corner, but when Naas took down a driving maul from the subsequent line-out they did opt to take the points on offer and Stynes was again on target.

This left the half-time score 13-7 in favour of Wesley and if the first-half was entertaining the second period was on another level. Straight from the kick-off Naas had a chance to reduce the margin. Wesley failed to take the restart, Naas gathered possession and as the home backs strayed offside the visitor were awarded a penalty. Peter Osborne’s kick was well struck but the wind caught it and it narrowly drifted wide to the left. However Wesley did not learn from their mistake of not dealing with the restart and it was to cost them dearly later.

It took 18 minutes of the second-half for the first score to be posted and when it did, it went to Wesley. Naas were harshly penalised for not releasing a tackled player and Stynes made no mistake in increasing his sides lead to 16-7. But within sixty seconds this was reduced to two. Again Wesley failed to deal with the restart, Naas pounced on the loose ball before a lovely sniping break by Peter Hastie took him near the try-line. When he was stopped Peter Osborne was on hand to take the pass and crash over. The same player converted and the score was now 16-14.

We then entered an amazing four minute spell when the lead changed hands on no less than three occasions. Firstly on 67 minutes referee Paul Haycock penalised the Old Wesley backs for being offside and Peter Osborne gave Naas the lead for the first time in the game. But the Wesley restart went over the attemped catch by the Naas jumpers, was caught by Paul Derham who passed to Cronan Gleeson who scored beside the posts. With Stynes converting Wesley were back in front by 23-17. Amazingly for a third time the home side failed to deal with the restart. Admittedly this time they did gather possession but the attempt clearance by Tom Kiersey was blocked by Niall Delahunt which evenutally led to Naas getting a five yard scrum. The ball was quickly transferred out the back-line to Fionn Higgins wide out on the right. When he received the ball he still had plenty to do but he showed great strength and power to crash over in the corner. Naas were still behind after that score with Osborne facing another unlikely conversion attempt from right out on the sideline. But under severe pressue he held his nerve and with a sublime kick put the visitors in front.

In the closing stages Wesley threw everything into attack in a bid to rescue a game they had looked to be in control of. They were now forced to throw the ball around which presented the opportunity for Fionn Higgins to intercept. Once he did he was never going to be caught as he ran almost the length of the pitch to secure victory for Naas, scoring the fourth try in the process for his side, thus giving them a try bonus point. As soon as Osborne converted the referee blew the final whistle and Naas could celebrate a great victory by 31-23.

As stated previously this puts Naas four points clear at the top of the table and sets up an intriguing fixture on their next outing as they travel to second placed Malone. This game is on Saturday week, November 24th with a 2.30pm kick-off and all support will be greatly appreciated.

Old Wesley: Rory Stynes, Josh Miller, Bill Corrigan, David Poff, Paul Harte, Tom Kiersey, Charlile O’Regan, Cronon Glesson, Ben Burns, James Burton, J.J. O’Dea, Iain McGann, Paul Derham, Josh Pim, Mark Rowley. Replacements: Andrew McCann, Harry Noonan, Darren Horan, Thomas O’Callaghan, Cillian Monaghan.

Naas: Peter Osborne, Fionn Higgins, Andrew Ellis, Johne Murphy, Niall Delahunt, Peter Hastie, Max Whittingham, Conor Doyle, Cathal Duff, Adam Coyle, Paul Monhan, David Benn, Ryan Casey, Will O’Brien, Paulie Tolofua. Replacements:Graham Reynolds, Jordan Duggan, Eoin Walsh, Ben O’Connor, Pierce Dargan.


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