Match Report v Old Wesley
Shannon win again!
It was back to League action this week for our Firsts who were missing a few players through injuries, captaining the side fell to Tadhg Bennett in Lee Nicholas’s absence. In a change of scenery we took to the back pitch in Thomond Park to welcome third in the table Old Wesley. The conditions were perfect for rugby with the sun shining and very little wind. Old Wesley’s number 8 retained possession from kick off and they were rewarded with a penalty early on from Shannon going off their feet. Shannon were next to be awarded a penalty, after Old Wesley came in from the side of a ruck. Richard Mullane stepped up to kick to touch and we won our line out. The forwards began to dominate early here and were taking the ball on with confidence and utilising the backs well from the start.
After 7 minutes, and failed kicks to touch from both sides, Old Wesley found themselves with a lineout close to the Shannon line. Their number 8 captured possession from this and made a strong drive up the pitch, picking the opportune moment to pass the ball and with simple hands, Old Wesley were the first to put points on the board with an unconverted try. This gave Shannon an awakening and from this they never looked back. Within 3 minutes Tadhg Bennett had slotted over a penalty when Old Wesley were off their feet at the breakdown. Old Wesley’s backs recovered the next kick off and looked confident in attack when James Vaughan claimed a great turnover in the ruck – Old Wesley not giving this up easily were penalised for holding on and Tadhg claimed another penalty at the 12 minute mark leaving the score 6-5 to Shannon. From this kick off Old Wesley again retained and after good Shannon pressure they were forced into a stress relieving kick to touch leaving Shannon with a scrum on the Wesley 5. Shannon set up a strong maul from this and were trundling towards the line when the ref blew a penalty against Old Wesley for pulling down the maul. Again Tadhg stepped up with confidence and put the ball over the bar leaving the score 9-5 in our favour.
From here the Old Wesley game began to unravel. They took a ball into their maul but failed to use it gifting Shannon a scrum. From this, Shannon spread the ball wide but Richard Mullane was caught in a high tackle. This saw another penalty awarded to Shannon that Ricard kicked to the Old Wesley 5 meter. Unfortunately Shannon gave away a penalty here and it was kicked over - at 22 minutes the score was 9-8. Minutes later, Shannon overthrow a lineout which an alert Sean McCarthy recovered and passed, setting up a series of good carries with James Vaughan again showing his strength with a pick and drive. The attack continued with Shannon making the hard yards when hands in the ruck from Old Wesley saw one of their men sent to the bin. Tadhg Bennett used his experience to take a quick tip-and-go and within seconds a well-timed David O’Donovan chip through saw a patient Will Leonard touch down in the corner of the pitch for a really well executed try. This was converted and left the score 16-8. Old Wesley returned the favour and kicked a penalty only 3 minutes later leaving the score 16-11. After this Tadhg Bennett again stepped up and took a great kick down the pitch gaining plenty of ground. Old Wesley won the lineout and set up a maul opting to kick from the back of this, only gaining a few meters. Shannon took the line out and again looked strong in the maul. Old Wesley were guilty of another infringement here from a player killing the ball on the line and saw their second man sent to the bin. Tadhg opted to kick the penalty leaving the score 19-11 after 35 minutes. The following few minutes until half time only displayed scrappy rugby but Shannon went in at the break looking more confident and clinical than we have seen them all season.
The second half started off as the first finished with Shannon awarded a penalty in the first minute and Tadhg kicking it over leaving the score 22-14. Tadhg, who by this stage was running the show, chipped a really nice ball through to the Old Wesley backs and Will Leonard followed through with a solid hit. Tony Cusack then forced the knock on. From this scrum, Shannon lost the ball in contact and Old Wesley kicked to touch awarding Shannon the line out. Old Wesley did not roll away at the breakdown and gifted Shannon another Tadhg Bennett penalty. The score read 25-14 after ten minutes. The next play saw another Old Wesley carded for taking a player out off the ball. A forward pass saw Old Wesley take a scrum and from this they were awarded a penalty against Shannon for dropping the bind. After a kick to touch and another Shannon knock-on, Old Wesley passed the ball out through the hands, the Shannon defence was strong and each player made the necessary hits, forcing the Old Wesley knock on. At this stage the linesman called the ref back for an infringement he spotted resulting in a yellow card for Shannon. Old Wesley kicked the resulting penalty leaving the score 25-17 at 60 minutes. Three minutes later another Shannon player saw a card for killing the ball, leaving thirteen men on the pitch.
It’s a testament to how far Shannon have progressed as a team this season that they kept the head during this time. Old Wesley saw plenty of possession in this time and really tested the Shannon defence. A penalty awarded to old Wesley off the scrum was missed. Tadhg kicked to touch and it went in off an Old Wesley boot. Shannon mauled from the lineout when an Old Wesley player came over the top of the following ruck, Shannon were awarded another penalty. This came off the crossbar and Simon Malone did really well to chase and apply the necessary pressure to force Old Wesley to carry the ball over the line and give Shannon the scrum. Old Wesley taking the advantage of Shannon’s one man less in the scrum, pushed Shannon off this, there was some good running rugby on display but again Shannon made the hits as they were needed until they were awarded a penalty for Old Wesley holding on. This was kicked to touch and after an Old Wesley penalty at the scrum, they were starting to pick and go down the pitch. Right at the 40 minute mark, James Vaughan shot up in the line and forced a crucial Old Wesley knock on. Richard Mullane kicked the ball out from the back of this and the ref blew it up leaving the full time score 25-17.
This performance has been a long time coming for this team. The ability has always been there and it would be fair to say that as the season is progressing they are gelling as a team and their ability is beginning to show. Each player stood up and was counted during this match and it will be interesting to see what else they can do as the season goes on. Our next match sees us on the road to Belfast to take on Belfast Harlequins and if Shannon can put on another performance like this, it will be a very good match indeed.
Photo by Dermot Lynch