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Two-Try Wolfhounds Enjoy Ravenhill Success

Two-Try Wolfhounds Enjoy Ravenhill Success

Denis Hurley and captain Chris Henry both scored tries as the O2 Ireland Wolfhounds battled past England Saxons for a deserved 20-11 victory at Ravenhill on Friday.

On a wet and windy evening in Belfast, early converted tries from Munster winger Denis Hurley and Ulster’s own Chris Henry set the tone for the Ireland Wolfhounds.

Eric Elwood’s charges were full value for their 14-3 half-time lead. England Saxons out-half Stephen Myler kicked with a much-needed penalty, and the visitors improved on the restart.

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Not before the Wolfhounds pushed 17-3 ahead courtesy of a 45th minute penalty from out-half Ian Humphreys, who finished with a 10-point haul.

The Saxons hit back in the final 30 minutes with a Ugo Monye try and Myler penalty, cutting the deficit to six points with 13 minutes left on the clock.

But Humphreys converted a late penalty to ensure a nine-point win and a dose of revenge for the Wolfhounds after their 17-13 loss to the Saxons in Bath last year.

The Irish management made six changes in personnel to the side that lost 32-12 to Scotland ‘A’ last Friday night.

David Kearney and Mike McCarthy came in to make their Wolfhounds debuts at full-back and blindside flanker respectively, and Isaac Boss, Declan Fitzpatrick, Mick O’Driscoll and Donnacha Ryan were also brought into the starting line-up.

Nevin Spence, back on home turf, created the opening for Hurley to score from the Wolfhounds’ very first attack. The young centre barged his way past two defenders before passing for Hurley to run in from outside the 22.

Facing into a blustery wind, Humphreys’ conversion kick cleared the crossbar. He was almost called upon to line up another place-kicking, but Johne Murphy was thwarted by Nick Abendanon’s hand trip when a try looked on.

The Saxons struggled to mount a response, and Hurley produced a superb try-saving tackle to prevent Billy Twelvetrees from crossing the hosts’ line.

A ruck offence allowed Myler open the English side’s account with a 20th minute penalty, but the Wolfhounds carried more of an attacking threat.

Out-half Humphreys went agonisingly close to grabbing a second try for the men in green as he followed up on a terrific run and chip kick from Kearney. However, Henry’s try was just minutes away.

Saxons prop Paul Doran-Jones was yellow carded for a scrum offence. Then, in the 26th minute, Henry picked off the base of a close range scrum and crashed over, with Willie Faloon and the hard-working O’Driscoll providing support.

It was a well-merited score for Henry, who led his troops superbly and was back of an effective back row combination. Humphreys’ conversion attempt went over off a post and gave the Irish an 11-point buffer to take into the second half.

The Ulster number 10 increased his influence by landing an excellent 58-metre penalty after the restart, continuing his tremendous place-kicking form at the Belfast venue.

The Saxons recovered and built some pressure through their forwards. They fed into a series of scrums near the hosts’ whitewash, one of which saw Wolfhounds prop Brett Wilkinson sin-binned for collapsing the set piece.

A try from winger Monye, who dotted down in the left corner, and a second penalty from Myler built momentum for the English outfit at 17-11.

The Wolfhounds defended manfully and survived a further bout of pressure, which included two English lineouts near their line. In the dying minutes, Humphreys was able to punish a ruck offence from 40 metres out for the clinching score.

O2 IRELAND WOLFHOUNDS: David Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster); Johne Murphy (Young Munster/Munster), Eoin O’Malley (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Nevin Spence (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Denis Hurley (Cork Constitution/Munster); Ian Humphreys (Ballymena/Ulster), Isaac Boss (Terenure College/Leinster); Brett Wilkinson (Galwegians/Connacht), Damien Varley (Garryowen/Munster), Declan Fitzpatrick (Dungannon/Ulster), Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster), Mick O’Driscoll (Cork Constitution/Munster), Mike McCarthy (Buccaneers/Connacht), Willie Faloon (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Chris Henry (Ballymena/Ulster) (capt).

Replacements used: Jamie Hagan (Corinthians/Connacht) for McCarthy (53-63 mins, temp), Dominic Ryan (Lansdowne/Leinster) for McCarthy (63), Jamie Hagan (Corinthians/Connacht) for Fitzpatrick (67), Ian Nagle (Cork Constitution/Munster) for Faloon (70). Not used: Nigel Brady (Dungannon/Ulster), Paul Marshall (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Ian Keatley (Galwegians/Connacht), Fionn Carr (Galwegians/Connacht).

ENGLAND SAXONS: Nick Abendanon (Bath); James Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Billy Twelvetrees (Leicester Tigers), Ugo Monye (Harlequins); Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints), Joe Simpson (London Wasps); Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Lee Mears (Bath), Paul Doran-Jones (Gloucester), Graham Kitchener (Worcester Warriors), Christian Day (Northampton Saints), James Gaskell (Sale Sharks), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins) (capt), Luke Narraway (Gloucester).

Replacements: James Buckland (London Irish), Joe Marler (Harlequins), George Robson (Harlequins), Andrew Saull (Saracens), Paul Hodgson (London Irish), Brad Barritt (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins).

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)