BUCCANEERS 31 SLIGO 21 | News | Buccaneers Rugby Football Club Athlone

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published:Aug  28   2017

 BUCCANEERS bounced back from their opening day defeat to Corinthians to record a 31-21 bonus point victory over Sligo in their Connacht Senior League match that was played in ideal conditions under the Dubarry Park floodlights on Friday night. Buccs welcomed back fit again backs Alan Gaughan and Callum Boland as they made four changes with Dan Law debuting in the second row. Sligo, on the back of their clearcut first round win over Galwegians, fielded a settled squad for this encounter.


In the evening sun, the Athlone side got off to a perfect start. Following a scrum near the visiting 22, Gaughan chipped over the cover and split between the fullback and winger for a 3rd minute try which he also converted. But Sligo were not unsettled by this score and twice came tantalisingly close to scoring but Conor Mitchell was held up on the home line while a combined tackle by Rory Grenham and Eoghan forced Mike Wells to knock on as he attempted to ground the ball. However, Wells did not have long to wait to touchdown, skinning a couple of home tacklers on his way to touching down at the posts for a 16th minute try. His conversion levelled the scores 7-7.


The Pirates responded swiftly, Boland finding a terrific touch deep in Sligo territory where the midlanders forced a penalty. They opted for a scrum that yielded another penalty which Frankie Hopkins smartly tapped to catch the north-westerners’ defence napping and his 20th minute try was converted by Gaughan. A smashing break by Maher earned another penalty soon afterwards but Gaughan’s kick for touch was overhit. Then Law, the subject of much scrutiny from home followers, quickly won their praise with a tremendous surge past four or five tacklers to mark his debut with a splendid 24th minute unconverted try in the right corner that put Buccs 19-7 ahead.


Thomas McGann showed electric pace with a 33rd minute break that looked like reaping a try but Gaughan’s grubber kick was a smidgeon too strong for the chasing Shane Layden. But Sligo’s restart was kicked straight into touch and Buccs were promptly back on the offensive with teenager McGann popping up to provide an overlap on the right and dive over for an unconverted try in the corner to leave Buccaneers 24-7 to the good at halftime.


Sligo made the better start to the second half and, when a kick ahead caught Buccs short of cover on the left, Mark Rooney raced through for a try which Wells converted. The visitors had much the better territory in this third quarter and were eventually rewarded with a 67th minute Niall Gray try which Wells converted to narrow the arrears to 24-21. But Buccs upped the tempo again in the final quarter and a terrific break by Eoin O’Reilly following a deft offload by Layden took possession close to the Sligo line. Buccs recycled the ball right to left where Conor Morrissey nabbed a bonus point try for the hosts. Gaughan’s conversion ensured Sligo left empty-handed before Ruairi Byrne was yellow carded very late in the game for a misjudged tackle as Buccs came out on top 31-21.


This was a much more encouraging display by Buccaneers against a battling Sligo side that has improved vastly since last season. This contest was also noticeably faster and more intensive than last week’s game as a determined and well organised Sligo put it up to the midlanders. Gaughan and Hopkins jelled nicely at halfback and Boland was solid in a couple of positions. Law was neat and controlled in his work at lock while Jack Delahunt sparkled at No.8. and another rookie Niall Farrelly put in a solid shift in the front row.


BUCCANEERS:- C.Boland; E.O’Reilly, S.Layden (captain), S.Flynn, T.McGann; A.Gaughan, F.Hopkins; M.Staunton, R.Grenham, N.Farrelly; R.Byrne, D.Law; J.Sutton, E.Maher and J.Delahunt. Replacements:- R.Convey (for Flynn, 25 mins), C.Morrissey (for Maher, inj. 52 mins), R.Enraght-Moony (for Sutton, inj. 54 mins), S.Flynn (for Convey, 55 mins), C.Cleary (for Farrelly, 67 mins), C.Kelly (for Cleary, inj. 75 mins) and D.Buckley.


SLIGO:- N.Gray; C.Goddard, M.Rooney, M.Wells (captain), P.Carter; M.Butler, G.O’Hehir; M.Keegan, S.O’Hehir, C.Mitchell; J.Wilson, S.Boyle; M.Davey, D.O’Dowd-Hill and M.Parkin. Replacements:- E.Gavin (for G.O’Hehir), S.McGuinness (for Mitchell), M.T.Davey (for M.Davey), J.O’Hehir (for S.O’Hehir), M.McMorrow (for Boyle), S.Mullin (for Gavin), R.O’Boyle (for Keegan).


REFEREE:- Daithi Flood (Connacht).