UCC 15 Old Wesley 25
UCC fell to their third defeat of the energia All Ireland League Division 1B campaign as they were beaten by Old Wesley in the annual colours match at the Mardyke on Saturday afternoon.
Late tries from captain Louis Bruce and Sean Condon weren’t enough to prevent the Cork University from suffering a loss or at least claiming a losing bonus point as Old Wesley climbed above them into fourth in the table on points difference.
After the teams gathered for their sold-out pre-match lunch on the UCC campus - as is the tradition before this annual colours match - the action got underway in tough conditions.
The heavy wind and the rain didn’t cater to fast, free-flowing rugby and it took both sets of players time to adjust their approach.
The visitors adapted quicker than their opponents and they almost powered their way across the line in the opening minutes but the UCC rearguard held firm on their goal line and a Wesley knock-on alleviated the pressure.
The match quickly became scrappy but it would finally spark into life in the 25th minute when Old Wesley ended the stalemate with a well-worked try.
The students again seemed to have recovered well to deny the opposition’s advances but two quick passes from Alex Molloy and David Poff allowed Nathan Randles to go down in the far corner after just about doing enough to hold off his man.
The conversion could hardly have been in a tougher position for Ian Cassidy but right in front of the famous old stand in the Mardyke on the right touchline, the number ten sent his kick with his right post sailing between the two posts, 7-0.
There were soon calls from the Old Wesley travelling supporters for their players to just ‘keep hold of the ball!’ But it was proving a difficult task given the weather conditions and UCC would capitalise on an error just before the half time break to finally get on the scoreboard thanks to a relatively straightforward penalty from Daniel Squires.
While Old Wesley retreated to the comfort of the away dressing room during the interval, UCC stayed out on the pitch as their manager gave them their instructions.
But it didn’t quite have the desired effect as the Dublin club started the second half the better team as they looked to seal their fourth win of the season in their seventh fixture.
They took a massive step towards achieving it moments after the restart as they grabbed their second try of the afternoon thanks to Iain McGann, who collected a pass - which many in the stands thought may have been forward - before racing clear of his markers and diving close to the posts, giving Cassidy the simple task of firing over the conversion, 14-3.
Cassidy would then blast a simple penalty between the uprights before dropping a much trickier kick over the crossbar to make it 20-3 with an hour on the clock.
Both sides soon started to use their substitute's bench but it was Wesley’s that made the bigger impact as Eoin Monahan grabbed their third try in style when he cleverly kicked the ball over the top of the defence before gathering it and putting it down behind the line.
UCC, to their credit, battled until the end and they reduced the deficit in the closing stages when captain Louis Bruce finished Sean Condon’s pass with Daniel Squires adding the extras from a tight angle.
Condon would add another try himself late on when he finished Squires’ pass but on this occasion, the number twelve failed to add the conversion as the home side slumped to a 10-point defeat.
Tries: L Bruce and S Condon. Cons: D Squires. Pens: D Squires.
Tries: N Randles, I McGann, and E Monahan. Cons: I Cassidy (2). Pens: I Cassidy (2).
J Murphy, S Condon, L Bruce, D Squires, E Asiegbu, C Whooley, A O’Mahony; C Hanlon, L McAuliffe, D McCarthy, S O’Sullivan, A Brien, P Hyland, J Sheehan, P McBarron.
R Duggan (34), D O’Halloran (47), A Quirke (56), J O’Sullivan (56), B Kingston (67), A Walsh (74).
A Molloy, N Randles, J O’Donovan, E Deegan, D Poff, I Cassidy, K Kavanagh; Harry Noonan, Howard Noonan, C Gleeson, D Motyer, I McGann, S Pim, W Fay, R Pim.
J O’Hare (30), E Monahan (47), F Tierney (56), J Miller (61), S Kenny (74), B Short (74).