BUCCANEERS 21 CORINTHIANS 26 | News | Buccaneers Rugby Football Club Athlone

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published:Aug  25   2017


BUCCANEERS suffered their first home defeat since February last year when they went down 26-21 to Corinthians in the opening round of the Connacht Senior League in a game that was switched to Dubarry Park on Saturday. Buccs were very understrength for this encounter as, in addition to their sizeable Connacht contingent not being available for CSL fixtures,  injury ruled out key backs Alan Gaughan, Jordan Conroy, Callum Boland and Mata Fifita. Consequently, the Pirates fielded a particularly young crew with no less than eight U-20s from the past two seasons named in the starting XV as well as a number of players operating out of their normal positions. Meanwhile, Corinthians looked the physically stronger and more settled outfit.


In near ideal conditions, Buccs had the first opportunity but an early clever diagonal ball bounced away from Rory O’Connor. The visitors opened the scoring after just 7 minutes, the homesters losing possession in midfield and Corinthians countered at pace with David Panther’s touchdown wide on the left being allowed despite what seemed a fairly obvious knock on in the build up to this try which Jack Feeney was unable to convert. The midlanders replied within four minutes, O’Connor intercepting on the ten metre line to hare in for a try which Eoin O’Reilly converted for a 7-5 lead.


A teasing break by Liam Marmion was halted before Buccs No.8 Jack Delahunt was yellow carded after 23 minutes for what the referee deemed to be a deliberate knock on when it looked like the U-20 player was stretching to intercept. The Athlone side did not concede any score while temporarily depleted but good hands with captain Panther to the fore yielded a 34th minute Marmion try following a penalty that had been punted to touch on the right. Feeney added the conversion. Ger Fallon had a chance to reduce the arrears but his penalty from the ten metre line three minutes later was off-target. However, Buccs regained the lead in the final move of the half with their try stemming from a penalty to the left. Good lineout ball was tapped to Frankie Hopkins whose snipe stretched the Corinthians cover and Shane Layden powered over for a try which Fallon converted to edge the Pirates 14-12 ahead at the interval.


Corinthians quickly regained the lead following the change of ends with Joe Murphy finishing off a move for an unconverted try on the right. Play was particularly scrappy in this quarter with errors aplenty on both sides although the westerners made much better use of the breeze in this half than the Pirates had in the first. The home pack was driven back at scrumtime on 67 minutes and former Bucc Feeney edged the Galway side 20-14 ahead with the resultant penalty. Three minutes later Buccs incurred a second sin-binning with substitute Harry Hughes having no complaint when his knock-on was ruled deliberate. Feeney drilled over the resultant penalty from the left to give Corinthians more breathing space, now 23-14 to the good.


But the defending champions struck back with O’Connor again intercepting, this time deep inside his own half, and the winger displayed pace and awareness to touch down between the posts for a 75th try with skipper Layden’s drop-kicked conversion narrowing the arrears to 21-23. However, virtually from the restart, Buccs were guilty of hands on the ground to concede a straight-forward penalty in front of their posts. Feeney was not going to miss that gilt-edged opportunity and his placekick sealed victory for Corinthians on a 26-21 margin.


Marmion, brother of Ireland scrumhalf Ciaran, was a constant thorn for the hosts. His centre partnership with Panther was solid and threatening throughout while lock Aaron Broderick was pick of the Corinthians pack. Fielding such a callow squad and with a number of players not in their usual berths meant Buccaneers were very likely to struggle and that’s how it unfolded. Martin Staunton and John Sutton battled gamely in the forwards contest while O’Connor, Layden and Thomas McGann looked the most potent in the home backline.


BUCCANEERS:- C.Forde; R.O’Connor, S.Layden (captain), E.O’Reilly, T.McGann; G.Fallon, F.Hopkins; M.Staunton, R.Grenham, N.Farrelly; R.Byrne, S.Meagher; J.Sutton, E.Maher and J.Delahunt. Replacements:- H.Hughes (for O’Reilly, 29 mins), R.Flanagan (for Maher, inj. 30 mins), D.Buckley (for Grenham, 60 mins), O.Cooney (for Farrelly, 60 mins), S.Flynn (for Forde, 67 mins), C.Cleary (for Staunton, 67 mins) and R.Grenham (for Delahunt, 70 mins).


CORINTHIANS:- S.Horan; J.Murphy, L.Marmion, D.Panther (captain), C.O’Donovan; J.Feeney, G.Faherty; C.Joyce, S.Faulkner, C.Hansberry; A.Broderick, J.Campbell; N.Hogan, M.O’Connor and S.McCormack. Replacements used:- K.Gavin, A.Bourke, J.Noone and C.Breathnach.


REFEREE:- Brian Deignan (Connacht).   





BUCCANEERS get a swift chance to bounce back when they entertain Sligo in the Connacht Senior League under the Dubarry Park floodlights on Friday night with this game kicking off at 8 p.m. Sligo proved the Athlone side’s most awkward opponents in last season’s CSL and they went on to have a pretty decent campaign in Division 2C of the AIL where they finished runners-up to Navan. They will be further encouraged by last Saturday’s comfortable 37-19 opening day bonus point victory over Galwegians so Buccs will need to field a more resourceful squad on Friday.


Young loosehead prop Kuba Wojtkowicz won the Ulster Bank League Division 2C Player of the Year award for last season and, with Conor Mitchell at tighthead, provides a solid anchor for the north-westerners. Shane Boyle, Diarmuid O’Dowd-Hill and Jamie Bowes are other members of a competitive pack. Mike Wells and Ryan Fehilly form an effective partnership at half-back while Conor Kerins provides a scoring threat in their backline.


Buccs will look to their New Zealand recruit Dan Law to make an impact on his debut. The versatile forward looks a dynamic performer with ball in hand, be it at lock or in the backrow. Ronan Farrell could be in contention for the home pack while Alan Gaughan should be fit to resume action in the vital fly-half role. But with so many absentees, it looks a formidable task for Buccaneers.