Buccaneers welcome Clontarf to Dubarry Park this Saturday in the Ulster Bank League Division 1A, with the action kicking off at 2.30pm.
With the league entering the final four rounds of fixtures, the stakes are high for all the teams.
Buccs and Clontarf will be battling for precious points, albeit from differing perspectives. The Midlanders prop up the league table and desperately need a change in fortune in this Ganly’s of Athlone sponsored game, while the northside Dubliners are still chasing a top four berth.
When the sides met in early October, Clontarf were one of the stronger outfits that the Pirates faced, as they eased to a 26-6 win. They led 12-0 at the break and were simply too strong, securing a bonus point victory on that occasion.
However, they may have gone off the boil since the turn of new year, losing key games against fellow contenders Young Munster and Terenure College, as well as being walloped by leaders Lansdowne. Their only win in that sequence was a narrow 19-8 victory against UCD.
Buccaneers will glean hope from that form, but first of all they must curb the influence of centre Matt D’Arcy, number eight Michael Noone, lock Ben Reilly, and prop Brian Byrne. David Joyce or Sam Cronin could feature at fly-half. The Midlanders must also match the physicality of the metropolitans.
Buccs need to eradicate errors and take every opportunity presented if they are to prevail. They got within touching distance of the Dublin University line on a decent number of occasions at College Park, but could only force their way over for one try. Better hardness, guile and patience would earn the Pirates more reward in such situations. They have not been that far off the pace in the majority of matches, but did not always get the breaks their endeavours warranted.
Callum Boland and Conor Kennys’s injuries disrupted seasons continued at Trinity, but hopefully both will be fit to play on Saturday, when Rory O’Connor is likely to start. Cian Romaine will be keen to make a point against Saturday’s opponents, while Peter Claffey’s presence, if fit, would be a huge boost, as Buccs chase a rare and sorely needed win.