Old Wesley got their AIL 1B campaign off to a winning start today with a hard-fought 13-3 win over Banbridge at a rain-soaked Energia Park, a well-taken try in the dying minutes from blindside flanker Conor Barry ultimately settling an otherwise forgettable encounter.
Banbridge started well and took the game to the home side for the first five minutes as they monopolised territory and possession but Wesley made their tackles and the visitors were unable to turn their advantage into scoreboard pressure.
Securing the lineout was a problem for both sides, in addition to retaining possession in contact, and neither was able to establish much continuity or exert any sustained pressure in the opposition red zone.
It was the 22nd minute before the scoreboard was troubled when Wesley took a 3-0 lead with a well-taken penalty from fullback Rory Stynes. As the half-hour approached, his opposite number Adam Doherty levelled matters as the home side were penalised for hands on the deck.
Banbridge started the second half well and looked to assert their authority on the game but a number of promising moves ended in the ball being spilled in contact or in penalties for not releasing.
As we approached the hour, a series of penalties eventually led to Stynes knocking over his second to see the home side into a 6-3 lead. The visitors probably shaded territory and possession overall in the second half but were unable to land a killer blow and, even when Wesley spent ten minutes with a man in the bin for a deliberate knock-on, Banbridge never really looked like crossing the whitewash.
At 6-3 it was still, in theory, anyone’s game but Barry had the final say as his opportunism sealed the win for the home side.
A late penalty for the visitors seemed to offer the opportunity to take at least a losing bonus point but when it drifted wide you sensed that it was not to be their day.
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