OLD WESLEY 49 BALLYMENA 19, Donnybrook (Report courtesy of IRFU website)
Scorers: Old Wesley: Tries: Mark Rowley 2, Martin Gately, David Poff 2, Tim Clifford, Adam Kennedy; Cons: Tim Clifford 4; Pens: Tim Clifford 2
Ballymena: Tries: David Shanahan, Matthew Norris 2; Cons: Brett Herron 2
HT: Old Wesley 23 Ballymena 0
There were try doubles for Mark Rowley and David Poff as Old Wesley produced their best display for some time in a 49-19 bonus point victory over Ballymena at Donnybrook.
Having struggled in recent weeks with three successive defeats, Wesley were back close to their best as this sizzling seven-try showing sent them back into the top four – and moved the Braidmen down to sixth in the process.
Ulster half-back duo Brett Herron and David Shanahan wielded little influence in a first half that ended 23-0 in Wesley’s favour, albeit that the visitors had some decent play and promising phases in the 22.
Wesley took their chances in clinical fashion, running in three tries through forwards Rowley and Martin Gately and 20-year-old centre Poff. The latter was partnered in midfield by the evergreen Michael Hastings (37) who put in some textbook tackles throughout.
Hard running from Stephen Boyle and Poff paved the way for prop Gately to go over in the corner after a clever switch back out to the wing, while former Leinster underage player Poff also touched down out wide following an advancing maul.
The tries kept coming for the Dubliners in the second period, a stunning bit of interplay between backs and forwards up the left wing ending with out-half Tim Clifford touching down from close range and converting for 30-0.
With Gately in the bin, Ballymena finally got off the mark when a skip pass put replacement Matthew Norris over. However, the visitors faltered again when they were turned over at a lineout and Wesley scrum half Adam Kennedy used his pace and sidestep to claim an unconverted try.
It was two tries apiece in the closing stages, Rowley rumbling through from a ruck just over five metres out and Poff breaking free up the wing for his second score in the corner. Ballymena had consolation scores from Shanahan and Norris.
OLD WESLEY: Rory Stynes; Paddy Davis, David Poff, Michael Hastings, Paul Harte; Tim Clifford, Adam Kennedy; Martin Gately, David Rowley, James Burton, Michael Dunleavy, Iain McGann (capt), Johnny O’Sullivan, Stephen Boyle, Mark Rowley.
Replacements: Conor Maguire, David Henshaw, Donnachadh Phelan, Brendan Monahan, Jack Maybury.
BALLYMENA: Rodger McBurney; Jordan Foster, James Beattie, Martin Irwin (capt), Jonny Rossborough; Brett Herron, David Shanahan; Bryan Young, Andrew Cundell, Chris Cundell, Mark Foster, Connor Smyth, Stephen Mulholland, Tony McGuinness, Adrian Hamilton.
Replacements: James Carson, James Taggart, Joe Thompson, Glenn Baillie, Matthew Norris.