BUCCANEERS 41 OLD WESLEY 14
RUGBY with Michael Silke
After a difficult opening to their All-Ireland League campaign, Buccaneers finally clicked into form with a barnstorming display against Old Wesley earning their first win on a 41-14 scoreline at Dubarry Park. Blistering starts to both halves stunned the previously undefeated visitors and Buccs were full value for their emphatic bonus point Division 1B victory in Athlone on Saturday.
The homesters made four changes, two enforced, from the previous week’s loss at Banbridge. The return of Connacht Eagles duo Peter Claffey and Luke Carty to the starting XV was tempered by the absence through injury of experienced pair Rory Moloney and Callum Boland. Carty slotted in at fly-half with Michael Hanley switching to centre. Martin Staunton was available to resume duty at loosehead prop with Owen Treacy coming in at blindside flanker and Torin Rensford moving to the bench. Paul Harte returned after injury to skipper Old Wesley at the ground where he had played in Buccs colours while the visitors made a second change with Joshua Pimm coming in for late cry-off Stephen Boyle.
The Shannonsiders hit the ground running and opened the scoring after just three minutes. Carty and Graham Lynch moved swift ball to Darragh Corbett and the winger weaved his way in from some distance for a splendidly worked try. Then an astute angled kick by John Sutton caused Harte to fumble and Thomas McGann profited from this indecisiveness to prod the ball forward where Simon Meagher steamed on to possession for another quickfire try. Carty converted both tries and Buccs had their tails up, leading 14-0 after a mere six minutes.
But errors by Buccaneers helped the visitors settle. Carty failed to make touch from a penalty following a high tackle by Charlie O’Regan on the impressive Corbett. Instead Rory Stynes returned the ball some distance downfield to touch on the right. The midlanders knocked on from the resultant lineout and, following the subsequent scrum, Old Wesley moved the ball from right to left where Harte slid over for a 16th minute try which Stynes converted from the touchline.
The metropolitans had the better of the second quarter but found the home defence in defiant mood, tackling tigerishly with good discipline from start to finish. Old Wesley’s best scoring opportunity came from a diagonal kick but the hop evaded Bill Corrigan wide on the left while an earlier skipped pass by the hosts caused a few hearts to flutter among the home supporters but resilient Buccaneers led 14-7 at half-time.
Buccs made an even better start to the second half. They turned over a threatening Old Wesley attack inside their own 22 and McGann went raiding down the right flank where he linked up with Lynch. The fullback coolly chipped his opposite number Stynes and McGann, continuing his run, fastened on to the ball to touchdown on 42 minutes. Virtually from the restart, Old Wesley were guilty of a chancy skipped pass and Rory O’Connor not for the first time in his career read it perfectly, leaping like a gazelle to intercept on his own ten metre line before sprinting through to score a bonus point try for Buccs. Carty duly converted both tries and soon added a brace of penalties to stretch the Athlone side’s advantage to 34-7 after 52 minutes.
The penalty count was now mounting against Old Wesley but it was they who profited from a penalty on the hour mark. Stynes found touch on the right close to the home line and, from the resultant lineout, the metropolitans mauled their way over for a James Burton try with Stynes adding the extras.
A smart blindside break by Colm Reilly almost provided a swift retort by the Pirates who continued to work feverishly and their endeavours were rewarded with a final move try. A thumping Conor Kenny tackle turned over possession near the home line and Buccaneers worked their way downfield where patient play following a fine drive
was rewarded when Evan Galvin burrowed his way over from match day skipper Sutton’s popped pass for Buccaneers fifth try. Carty added the conversion to complete Buccaneers 41-14 margin.
Leading by example and regularly charging forward, towering lock Claffey was a worthy winner of the ‘AUDI ATHLONE Man of the Match’ accolade. However, this was a wonderful all round squad effort. Lynch, out of position at fullback, and Corbett continue to blossom in the backline where Hanley belied his size with brave tackling and Reilly is a scrum half of rich promise. Sutton and Staunton remain leaders in the pack where inexperienced pair Niall Farrelly and Treacy put in serious stints. Wing forward Paul Derham was Old Wesley’s most impressive performer with Stynes their liveliest back on show in a game well officiated by upcoming referee Chris Harrington.
BUCCANEERS:- G.Lynch; T.McGann, R.O’Connor, M.Hanley, D.Corbett; L.Carty, C.Reilly; M.Staunton, J.Sutton (captain ), N.Farrelly; R.Byrne, P.Claffey; O.Treacy, E.Galvin and S.Meagher. Replacements:- C.Kenny (for Farrelly, h/t ), F.Hopkins (for Reilly, 64 mins ), D.McMahon (for McGann, 64 mins ), E.Maher (for Treacy, 72 mins ) and T.Rensford.
Referee:- Chris Harrington (IRFU ).
Buccaneers away to Ballynahinch
Buccaneers head north for the second successive away fixture with a trip to Ballymacarn Park on Saturday where they can expect fireworks with Ballynahinch in this bank holiday All-Ireland League Division 1B match which kicks off at 2.30pm.