BLACKROCK COLLEGE 14 BUCCANEERS 23published:Oct 08 2012
BLACKROCK COLLEGE 14 BUCCANEERS 23
BUCCANEERS were worthy 23-14 victors over Blackrock College in this second round of the Ulster Bank League Division 1B at Stradbrook, Dublin, on Saturday. The midlanders, despite the absence of injured Kolo Kiripati and John O’Brien who was on GAA duty (his Clifden drew with Ballinasloe in the Galway final), set the tempo from the kick off and dominated large swathes of this lively encounter played in ideal conditions on a glorious autumn afternoon.
Luke Satchwell manned the No. 8 berth effectively in the absence of his captain and Shane Layden made a welcome return at fullback after a lengthy injury layoff. Alex Hayman operated in the centre to give extra experience and steel to a very youthful Pirates backline while Daniel Qualter returned in the second row. Meanwhile Blackrock College, celebrating fifty years ownership at Stradbrook, also fielded a mainly developing squad apart from some canny battlers like locks Owen Cullen and Des Dillon and the returning former Connacht player Mick Carroll.
Buccs had an early chance to open their account but Jack Carty’s penalty from the left drifted wide of the far upright after just two minutes while a quickly tapped penalty by Layden caused unease in the home defence three minutes later. Billy Henshaw put in a firm tackle to stop Billy Glynn in Rock’s first real attack after 12 minutes. The beefier Blackrock pack posed difficulties for Buccs in the opening quarter but the visitors got to grips with that sector as the game progressed. The midlanders were enjoying decent territory and pinned the hosts back with sniping breaks and some judicious kicking. Layden was stopped just five metres from the Rock line before this sustained pressure was eventually rewarded when Carty landed a 20th minute penalty from the right after Rock were over the top in search of the ball. Four minutes later, Buccs punished a volleyed clearance which gave them possession in the centre and the ball was soon in the hands of Callum Boland who chipped ahead and won the race to lay off to the supporting Henshaw who got in for a try which Carty converted excellently from the left touchline for a 10-0 advantage that was a fair reflection on the proceedings.
Buccs coughed up a penalty from the restart but David Godfrey was off-target from a very kickable position. James Tormey, on the field for the injured Michael Kearney, then disrupted Rock forcing them to concede a 32nd minute penalty which Carty drilled over. But the Dubliners were thrown a lifeline four minutes from the break when two Buccs players allowed Jan Simon Byrne get by them much too easily and the home fullback made the most of his opportunity for a soft try which Godfrey converted to leave the Pirates lead reduced to 13-7 at halftime.
Four minutes after the restart, Layden chased his own garryowen, nailing Byrne who held on to possession and Carty gratefully tapped over the resultant penalty. Five minutes later, the midlanders turned over possession on their own 22 to counter attack but the final pass by Buccs was not precise and a real try chance evaporated. Almost immediately, Hayman stormed forward but crossing was adjudged and another promising raid came to nought.
The decisive phase followed as the game entered the final quarter. Buccs were guilty of coming in from the side but Godfrey had a replica of his earlier penalty miss. Moments later, Enda O’Brien snaffled possession and rampaged forward, Conor Finn made further inroads into the home 22 before off-loading to Satchwell on the right. The young back-rower showed fine composure and good strength to barrel through for a well-taken try in the right corner and Carty added the extras with another super touchline conversion. A ten points turnaround and a healthy 23-7 advantage for Buccaneers with 17 minutes remaining.
Four minutes later, Satchwell was again involved to link up with David Heffernan and Finn who was stopped just short while a forward pass to the over-lapping Layden spoiled another exciting raid as Blackrock were again carved open. Eoghan Grace was sin-binned four minutes from time for slowing possession and Rock finally came alive to capitalise on their numerical superiority enabling Carroll to mark his return when driving over for a 78th minute try which Godfrey converted to complete the 23-14 scoreline.
Buccs could and perhaps should have won this encounter more comfortably. Nevertheless, this was a highly encouraging display by the midlanders with flanker Heffernan their outstanding performer. Satchwell took his opportunity well and Qualter put in a decent shift in the second row. The Pirates enterprising backline, with Layden, Henshaw and Mark Dolan to the fore, caused constant problems throughout for the hosts as Buccs secured another win at a ground where they have an exceptional record. Victory moved Buccaneers up to fifth position in the league table but Blackrock, relegated from Division 1A last season, look like facing another testing campaign.
Footnote:- The Buccaneers starting XV featured no less than nine players who had been capped by Ireland U-20s in the past three seasons!
BUCCANEERS:- S.Layden; B.Henshaw, A.Hayman, C.Finn, C.Boland; J.Carty, M.Dolan; J.Roets, E.O’Brien, P.Reilly; D.Qualter, M.Kearney; D.Heffernan, E.Grace and L.Satchwell. Replacements:- J.Tormey (for Kearney, inj. 29 mins), M.Staunton (for Roets, h/t), C.FitzGibbon (for Henshaw, inj. 60 mins), J.Connolly (for Staunton, inj. 65 mins), B.Digby (for Dolan, 68 mins) and Henshaw (for Finn, inj. 70 mins).
BLACKROCK COLLEGE:- J.S.Byrne; M.Scott-Lennon, E.van Wyck, R.Keogh, D.Rowan; D.Godfrey, B.Glynn; D.Lewis, R.Fisher, C.Phillips; D.Dillon, O.Cullen; M.Carroll, P.Ryan and J.Kilgallon. Replacements:- R.Liddy (for Cullen, 33 mins), J.Mannion (for Lewis, 33 mins), M.McKeever (for van Wyck, 45 mins), C.Carroll (for Phillips, 63 mins).
REFEREE:- Stuart Gaffikin (IRFU).