St Mary’s College beat Wesley College in entertaining clash
February 2, 2023 5:00 pm Des Berry
St Mary’s College 33 Wesley College 28
A penalty try in the 64th minute enabled St Mary’s to move on to the Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup quarter-final in a cracking contest at Energia Park on Thursday.
Their hooker Cillian Jacobs set the tone with a punishing hit on Ryan McNeill, the prop returning the favour by holding Jacobs up in contact.
Wesley were able to break out of defence due to Finn Nolan’s charge, kick and chase, fly-half Charlie Hempenstall also eating up the ground to take them inside the 22.
From there, it was a matter of wills as the forwards made incremental gains for hooker Rian Handley to burrow over, Hempenstall converting in the ninth minute.
St Mary’s struck back quickly, the forwards earning a penalty at a ruck, securing the lineout and driving low into contact.
Wesley were denied a second try when Jack Roberts’ pass to Evan Pearson was ruled forward by the officials.
Full-back Nolan’s punt and Paddy Collins’ takedown of Gavin Foley was emblematic of Wes’s willingness to chase lost causes.
There was profit in the maul for St Mary’s, rolling forward to create enough pressure for Sam Ryan and Moynihan to expose holes and for captain Lucca Jennings to claim a try, Jacobs converting for 14-7 in the 27th minute.
The Rathmines school plumbed the maul again, Jennings rising to take Jacobs’ throw, Aaron O’Brien making metres for prop Tiernan O’Shea to pick up the try, Jacobs adding the extras in the 31st minute.
St Mary’s exit strategy was compromised by playing the ball out on the full, inviting Wesley to use the blunt force of their forwards to get hooker Handley over for his second, Hempenstall’s conversion making it 21-14 at the break.
The Ballinteer school’s ace in the pack was Handley, the hooker hammering home his hat-trick in double-quick time for Hempenstall to make it 21-all.
The sight of Handley taking off in the loose was balanced out by Foley’s block-down as Hempenstall looked to use the wind to drive Wesley forward.
They were cool in their execution from a lineout, that man Handley popping up with a short ball and flanker Milo Campbell pumping his legs to make the line, Hempenstall adding the conversion in the 45th minute.
St Mary’s full-back Foley pierced the first line, but not the second as Nolan stood firm. Replacement Gavin Mulvihill forced a penalty on the floor.
The same play that produced St Mary’s first try did the trick for their fourth, this time Mulvihill finding the unstoppable Moynihan to narrow the gap to two points in the 54th minute.
A brilliant burst by Aaron O’Brien and the evasion of Foley were enough to keep St Mary’s on the front-foot where they forced a penalty.
They went to their most reliable weapon, the maul. Welsey was seen to have pulled it down for the harshest punishment available – a penalty try.
Wesley had the time to come again, holding the ball well until hooker Jacobs stooped to conquer a ruck at the end.
Scorers – St Mary’s – E Moynihan 2 tries; L Jennings, T O’Shea try each; Pen try; C Jacobs 3 cons. Wesley – R Handley 3 tries; M Campbell try; C Hempenstall 4 cons.
St Mary’s College – Gavin Foley; Jack Halpin, Thomas Tourish, Evan Moynihan Daniel McNulty; Sam Ryan, Luke McGill (Gavin Mulvihill 38); Tiernan O’Shea (Fionn Devereaux 58), Cillian Jacobs, Ruadhán Smyth, David Leane, Luke Policky (Liam Flaherty 40), Joseph Durkan, Lucca Jennings (Capt), Aaron O’Brien.
Wesley College – Finn Nolan; Evan Pearson, Paddy Collins, Johnny Cazzini, Jack Roberts; Charlie Hempenstall, Jack Freyne; Shane Pedlow, Rian Handley, Ryan McNeill, Finn O’Neill, Chris Collins (David Gilmore 62), Milo Campbell, Aaron Bennet-Murphy, Oran Handley (Capt, Ryan Price 65).
Referee – C Roche, Leinster Branch.