HIGHFIELD left it very late to secure maximum points against fellow promotion-seeking Old Wesley in a pulsating Energia All Ireland League Division 1B clash at Woodleigh Park on Saturday.
In truth, the Cork side were outplayed for almost the entire second half but somehow found a way to win with a battling performance in the closing 20 minutes that stunned the Dublin side into submission.
Credit to Highfield they came out of the blocks in style and a terrific James Taylor dazzling run saw his assist to Colin O’Neill fumbled when in sight of the posts.
Old Wesley almost punished Highfield in the seventh minute when James O’Donovan almost got in but a last-ditch tackle from Alex Molloy stopped him in his tracks.
Following good pressure, Highfield were punished with a penalty in the 11th minute that Eoin Monaghan slotted between the posts.
In fairness, despite not playing well in the opening half the home side were back on parity following an offside offence that James Taylor executed the resultant penalty with precision.
The home side were punished in the 23rd minute when full-back Cian Bohane’s attempted kick was blocked by the inrushing Nathan Randles who was given an easy chance of crashing over in the corner with the conversion missed.
In a half that saw both teams had periods of dominance the last word came from the home side when winger Ben Murphy scored a quality try with the conversion missed.
After Wesley’s out-half Eoin Monaghan missed consecutive kickable penalties the sides were level 8 points each at the break but on the restart, the visitors looked a far better side.
Eight minutes into the restart Monaghan who had a nightmare opening half in the kicking department slotted over his second penalty as Highfield looked to be on the ropes.
Consistent pressure and possession was rewarded for the visitors seven minutes later when Thomas O’Callaghan carved open the Highfield defence to crash over but once again they failed to convert.
In the 68th minute on their first time in the Old Wesley half Highfield were awarded a penalty that Taylor kicked between the posts as the deficit was reduced to five points 11-16.
Defeat for either side was unthinkable in their quest for the end-of-season playoffs and suddenly Highfield responded to the wake-up call when substitute Travis Coomey crashed over under the posts.
A difficult Monaghan conversion was also good as the home fans were delirious to see them edge ahead 18-16.
In the pulsating eight minutes of added time, Highfield showed great maturity when Taylor kicked another penalty with the sound of the final whistle bringing a huge cheer around Woodleigh Park.
For the Old Wesley players and management team, it was a case of so close and yet so far as their dominance in this game wasn’t rewarded.
C Buckley, R Murphy, D Fitzgerald, D O’Connell, E Keating, M Fitzgibbon, A Porter, M Cronin, R Cassidy, J Taylor, C O’Neill, M Dorgan, L McCarthy, B Murphy, C Bohane.
T Coomey, J O’Callaghan, S Quaid, G O’Leary.
Harry Noonan, Howard Noonan, C Gleeson, D Motyer, I McGann, W Fay, R Pim, S Pim, K Kavanagh, E Monaghan, T O’Callaghan, E Deegan, J O’Donovan, N Randles, A Molloy.
S Kenny, D McLean, J O’Hare, J Miller.
Sam Holt (IRFU).