Buccaneers seconds and their Galwegians counterparts served up a compelling encounter in their Connacht Junior 1A League clash at a sodden Dubarry Park, Athlone, where the home side came out on top 13-8 on Sunday.
In this top versus bottom joust, Buccs belied their table-propping position to deservedly fashion a greatly needed victory. The weather and testing conditions made this a battle of wills and here the Pirates ruled supreme as the long-time leaders stuttered for a second successive fixture. Buccs were relentless in their quest for the spoils, winning most of the 50/50 collisions, and Cameron Hertz scored all the homesters’ points.
Hertz unlocked the visitors’ defence with a well-judged chip over the cover, and the outhalf won the race to touchdown for an eighth-minute try which he also converted. ‘Wegians opened their account with a 28th-minute penalty against the run of play and they enjoyed their best spell from there to the interval, but Buccs went in 7-3 ahead. Hertz added a brace of penalties for Buccs on 44 and 48 minutes, the latter a fine effort, as the Pirates regained their momentum.
However, a 65th-minute sin-binning of Keith Grehan gave Galwegians an opportunity. Three minutes later Matt Burke wriggled away from Rory Grenham’s tackle on the right and the prop surged in for an unconverted try. A highly contentious yellow card to Sean Byrne for a perceived shoulder tackle reduced Buccs to 13 players soon afterwards, but they defended heroically and resolutely as the Tribesmen sought to claim a victory.
With Grehan back in the fold, the Pirates withstood all the Westerners could throw at them and, in the closing stages, they again resumed control to earn the immensely precious points with this very richly merited win.