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Old Wesley 19 - Naas 16 2017-01-11 09:44:00

Old Wesley 19 - Naas 16

Naas 1st XV concluded their 2016 campaign with an away fixture to Old Wesley last Friday night. A large number of supporters travelled from Naas and although they were to be disappointed with the result, they witnessed a cracking game of rugby with the outcome in doubt right up to the final whistle.The game was played on a dry, calm night that was perfect for running rugby and that is what both sides endeavoured to play at every opportunity.

Old Wesley took the lead after 12 minutes. This came as a result of mistake by Naas, a mistake that was to be repeated to costlier effect later. After passing the ball back into their own 22, Naas kicked directly into touch, handing Old Wesley a line-out close to the Naas line. From the line-out the home side drove at the Naas defence, winning a penalty at the subsequent ruck, which Barry McLaughlin slotted over. After 17 minutes we saw an amazing passage of play from both sides. Naas launched a dangerous attack in the Old Wesley 22, only to see McLaughlin intercept and race clear. Naas desperately chased back and caught the Wesley player close to the line, but were deemed to have high tackled him. The home side tapped the penalty into the corner, giving them a 5 yard line-out. However Paulie Tolofua managed to steal this and he sprinted clear. He was stopped just short of the Wesley 22 yard line, referee Saba Abulashvili deemed the home side had hands in the ruck and Peter Osborne kicked over the subsequent penalty to level matters.

On 24 minutes Naas repeated their mistake of kicking directly into touch after passing the ball back into their 22. This time the home side took full advantage. They won the line-out, quickly transferred the ball to Isaac Leota who dived over the line for the opening try, which McLaughlin converted. Within four minutes another McLaughlin penalty gave the home side a 13-3 lead, and when Naas were penalised for collapsing a scrum on 34 minutes the same player made it 16-3. Naas were now in big trouble and needed the next score to stay in contention. With a minute left of the half they managed this when Peter Osborne slotted over after Rob O'Connor had been high tackled, making it Old Wesley 16 - Naas 6 at the break.

The opening 15 minutes of the second half belonged to Naas. This period of dominance saw two David Benn tries which levelled the scores and led to a pulsating finish. The first of these came on 46 minutes when after Old Wesley won a scrum deep in their own half Adam Griggs attempted to kick clear. However Benn superbly blocked it down, gathered possession and dived over. On 55 minutes a great break in midfield by Peter Osborne took play deep into the Wesley half. The Naas forwards then took over and after a series of charges at the try-line it was that man Benn again who managed to get over. Although both conversions were missed the scores were now level at 16 each and Naas looked the better side.

Credit then must go to Old Wesley as they dominated the last quarter. Indeed only for some great Naas defence the outcome could have been decided much earlier. It is easy to see how Naas have conceded the least amount of points in the league, as no matter what Old Wesley tried the away side had an answer for it. However on the 76th minute, just as a draw was looking likely, Naas were penalised at a ruck and Barry McLaughlin kicked the penalty to give Old Wesley a 19-16 victory, although Naas did claim a losing bonus point.

So the curtain comes down on 2016 for the Naas 1st XV. It is a year in which they will take great pride in. In those 12 months, they played 18 league games, winning 14, gaining promotion from Division 2A and are currently fifth in Division 1B. All in all a tremendous achievement.The league now takes a break and resumes on Friday, January 27th when the return fixture with Old Wesley takes place in Naas with a 8 o'clock kick-off time.

Naas: Peter Osborne, Rob O'Connor, Johne Murphy, Henry Bryce, Andrew Shanahan, Michael Skelton, David Barron, Adam Coyle, Graham Reynolds, Jason Harney, Paul Monahan, David Benn, Andrew Kearney, Will O'Brien, Paulie Tolofua. Replacements: Conor Johnson, Jordan Duggan, Eoin Walsh, Max Whittingham, Kevin McLoughlin.

Old Wesley: Rory Stynes, Barry McLaughlin, Isaac Leota, Ger Finucane, Paul Harte, Tim Clifford, Adam Griggs, David Henshaw, Conor Maguire, James Burton, Michael Dunleavy, Josh Hinde, Darren Horan, Stephen Boyle, Mark Rowley. Replacements: Craig Telford, Martin Gately, Mark Robinson, Donnchadh Phelan, Alan Large.



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