BUCCANEERS 18 NAVAN 17 | News | Buccaneers Rugby Football Club Athlone

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published:Oct  01   2019



A final move of the match try by Harry Balsiger earned Buccaneers the spoils in this absorbing J.P.Fanagan Leinster U-20 League Premier 2 qualifer against Navan at Dubarry Park on Sunday. This was a nip and tuck duel from start to finish when winger Balsiger’s touchdown gave Buccs an 18-17 victory.


On a warm, sunny afternoon Darren Browne proudly led out the homesters for their first competitive outing against Navan who had had a 33-32 win in Galway the previous weekend. This had sharpened the visitors and they looked the better side early on while Buccs were somewhat ring rusty. The Meath side threatened early but were wayward with a 2nd minute penalty. However, they benefited from a knock-on that earned them a close-in scrum from which they moved the ball smartly to the right corner where Cormac Horan got in for an unconverted 13th minute try.


Buccs settled and made some promising inroads into the Navan 22 but all too often did not protect possession and consequently squandered a number of decent opportunities. Stephen Mannion, generally near flawless with his place-kicking, was off-target with a kickable 28th minute penalty and then kicked the ball dead when going for touch with a late penalty. Nevertheless, Buccaneers were very much in the game, trailing by that solitary score 0-5 at halftime.


The Buccs carriers were too often isolated in that opening half but they improved significantly in this area as the second half progressed. This was best demonstrated when Nathan Horan made a clever blindside break following a lineout near the Navan ten metre line. Support was swift to arrive on this occasion and, following a couple of sallies on the visitors’ line, skipper Browne burrowed over near the left corner for a try after 52 minutes. Now acclimatised to the crossfield breeze, Mannion found his range with a splendid conversion from near the touchline.


But Buccs dropped their guard after this score after Jensen Nagle had to punt to touch on the left deep in the home half. Navan threw the ball in swiftly and a neat angled chip over the cover was finished off by William McAleese for an unconverted try on the opposite corner to regain the lead. Buccs responded positively and Dara Mulvihill was stopped short but, when the ball was recycled, the midlanders won a penalty which Mannion slotted over to level the scores 10-10 as the game entered the final quarter.


Five minutes later, the outhalf landed another penalty to take the lead again but Navan quickly got their noses back in front. They got a good touch on the right from a penalty and then good handling across the paddock was finished off by Sean Walsh for a 72nd minute try on the opposite flank. McAleese added a fine conversion for a 17-13 advantage that looked like it may secure victory.


But Buccaneers were now gelling much better and applied growing pressure in the closing minutes. They then conjured up their best move of the contest when Liam Winnett thundered on to a popped pass and charged into the cover. The ball was recycled smartly via Mannion to James Downes who made good yardage before sending Balsiger scampering along the left flank past flailing tacklers to dive over for a match-winning try in the corner. Although Mannion was unable to add the difficult conversion, Buccs claimed a dramatic 18-17 victory.


Buccs pack grew into the contest as it unfolded with Winnett and Mathias O’Neill coming alive in the second half. Harry O’Reilly was very influential throughout and eager beaver Browne was prominent all through. Halfbacks Horan and Mannion, who had not played much rugby recently, both settled into their roles in a backline that looked that bit slicker than the visitors. For Navan, who outscored the hosts by three tries to two, the losing bonus point should prove vital.


BUCCANEERS:- J.Nagle; D.Mulvihill, D.Ennis, J.Downes, H.Balsiger; S.Mannion, N.Horan; C.Forkam, D.Browne (captain), H.O’Reilly; A.Shine-Lynch, J.Scouler; C.O’Grady, M.O’Neill and L.Winnett. Replacements:- C.Daly (for Forkam, inj. 24 mins), M.Tallon (for Shine-Lynch,54 mins), L.Laoshvili (for O’Reilly, 68 mins), K.Connolly (for O’Neill, 72 mins), R.Dempsey, M.Byrne and S.Edogun.


Other Results


A young inexperienced Buccaneers squad shipped a heavy 66-7 Connacht Junior 1A League defeat against Sligo at Hamilton Park on Saturday. In showery conditions, Buccs found it hard to deal with a strong home side’s carrying and big hits in defence. Sligo came flying out of the traps to lead 19-0 after a mere 10 minutes. The Pirates trailed 24-7 at halftime, James Kelly getting their try and Gavin O’Toole adding the conversion. But that was as good as it got for the Athlone outfit who were bullied at the scrum and breakdown as Sligo kept the scoreboard ticking over steadily. Debutant flanker Evert Fuenmayor is the first Venezuelan to play for Buccs!


BUCCANEERS:- M.Byrne; E.O’Reilly, R.Teape, R.Enraght-Moony (captain), R.Murphy-Sweeney; E.O’Toole, G.Fallon; J.Kelly, R.Grenham, G.Dunican; J.McCauley, C.Harewood; E.Fuenmayor, G.O’Toole and M.Tallon. Replacements:- T.Devery, A.Kelly, C.McGuinness and C.Digan.


It was equally tough for Buccaneers Womens team whose first outing in the Connacht Invitational Cup was against high-flying NUIG. This ten-a-side game was played in blustery conditions at Dubarry Park on Sunday and the Students were much too sharp for a Buccs side that is struggling for numbers and fielded quite a number of newbies. Tracy Finerty scored Buccs try in this 70-5 defeat. New players including beginners will be greatly welcomed by our ladies squad at training on Mondays and Wednesday from 7 p.m.


BUCCANEERS:- T.Finerty, M.McLaughlin, J.Dowling, C.Fallon, E.O’Brien, L.Heckermann, N.O’Dwyer, E.Branigan, N.Gough (captain) and S.Donohue.