UCD 16-29 Old Wesley – Killian Woods was at the Belfield Bowl to watch UCD RFC’s final game of the season against Old Wesley
UCD RFC played their last AIB League Division 2 game of the season against an Old Wesley side that still held aspirations of making the playoffs. The game also took on some extra importance with the return of former UCD captain Michael Hastings to the club he joined in late 2000. His return to Belfield didn’t start well, as UCD established a healthy lead in the opening stages of the game.
After kicking off proceedings, UCD managed to turn the ball over in the Old Wesley half and apply some serious pressure on the Wesley defence. A series of quick offloads kept UCD’s attack flowing and eventually led to their opening score: with UCD pushing closer and closer to blitzing the visitors with an early try, Old Wesley were penalised for hands in the ruck, allowing John Cooney to slot over a difficult penalty from the far right hand side. Five minutes later, Cooney extended his side’s lead further as he kicked another difficult penalty from the right touchline.
This was a great start to the game for UCD, as they looked good for the first try of the match. The try nearly came through an overlap created by UCD’s backs, which saw Collidge winger Rory Allwright bundled into touch as he dove for the line.
Even after 20 minutes, UCD were controlling possession and bossed healthy percentages for territory and used these positives to increase their lead to nine points from the boot of Cooney with just over 22 minutes gone. From this point, however, Old Wesley began to up their game and just before half time managed to overhaul UCD’s lead thanks to two tries in five minutes.
Wesley’s first try came after sustained pressure inside the UCD 22-metre line saw flanker Colin Wallace barge over, only for the conversion to be missed by fly half David Smith. The second try resulted from a mix-up in the UCD defence who assumed en masse that a penalty had been given. Luckily for Wesley, substitute winger Alan Thompson continued to chase the kick and gathered to give his side the lead, which Smith added to with the conversion.
With UCD only three points behind their opponents at half time, they were hardly out of this contest. Play at the start of the second half, however, took far more wind out of UCD as Wesley began to further dominate the contest. Indeed, it was heart-in-mouth time for UCD just four minutes in, after John Rowe made a clean break and offloaded to Carroll who tore up the pitch, looking likely to score Wesley’s third try of the afternoon. An unbelievable tackle by Andy Cummiskey denied Carroll his try, and averted UCD falling further behind.
Unfortunately this superb covering tackle was only prolonging the inevitable; Wesley scored their third of the afternoon thanks to a great move off a scrum in the UCD half creating a five-on-two overlap for the visitors and Thompson going over. A successful conversion brought Wesley’s lead to ten.
UCD narrowed the gap to three straight from the restart, thanks to a well-worked try crafted by centre Eoghan Conran and finished by winger Calibhe Doherty. With the game now entering the closing stages, Old Wesley were repelling UCD’s ventures forward and looking likely to see out the game, but in the dying minutes, UCD found themselves cemented deep in their own half conceding possession to Thompson who completed his hat-trick and rub salt into Collidge wounds.
The result leaves UCD 13th of 16 sides in Division 2 after a long, tough season that saw the fruition of many young players such as Rhys Ruddock and Niall Earls. The season might not have been a classic, but the future look bright.