Depleted Buccaneers succumb to powerful Old Wesley performance

OLD WESLEY 29 BUCCANEERS 13

RUGBY with MICHAEL SILKE

OLD WESLEY retained pole position in Division 1B of the All-Ireland League when they defeated Buccaneers 29-13 at Energia Park on Saturday. Benefiting from a settled squad on the artificial surface at Donnybrook and helped by a very early try, the Dubliners proved too slick and powerful for a considerably depleted Pirates crew who remain second from bottom.

With what could best be described as an experimental side, Buccaneers needed a good start but there was just over one minute gone on the clock when Rory Stynes finished off swift play by the hosts for a soft unconverted try near the posts. Michael Hanley opened the visitors’ account with a 10th minute penalty following a high tackle. Just two minutes later Old Wesley were awarded a penalty in similar circumstances but incredibly fullback Stynes missed a second placekick from virtually in front of posts. Buccs took the lead when Hanley slotted over a second penalty after 18 minutes.

Buccaneers had now settled into the fast-flowing encounter and Tom O’Callaghan had to put in a try-saving tackle on Rory O’Connor at the end of the opening quarter. Shane Layden won a massive turnover in front of his posts after 25 minutes and Reilly put in a splendid clearance that was well chased by Hopkins. The home side, ever willing to run the ball, regained the lead on 32 minutes when Mark Rowley surged over between the posts. Stynes got his radar working on this occasion.

Soon afterwards pressure by the Pirates forced J.J.O’Dea to carry the ball over his own line but the match officials spotted a knock-on as Buccs sought to ground the ball, much to the relief of the homesters. Stynes then nabbed his second try following an end to end move following this let off and he duly converted this touchdown with the final kick of the half for a 19-6 lead at the interval.

Buccaneers, who had lost Callum Boland to injury after 25 minutes, then suffered another setback when Rory Moloney, who had been a thorn for the home side, was forced off at the break. Aidan Wynne and Owen Treacy were their relevant replacements.

With the more pronounced breeze following the change of ends now favouring the hosts, they went in search of a bonus point try which arrived following a series of phases when Harte found a gap in his former club’s defence. Stynes converted this 54th minute try for a 26-6 advantage.

But although greatly understrength, Buccaneers continued to battle and they earned three penalties in quick succession that brought them into promising positions but all lineouts went awry. However their willing endeavours forced one too many infringement by Old Wesley and Paul Derham incurred a 62nd minute yellow card. The midlanders endeavours eventually gained reward when Reilly broke smartly from midfield to score a splendid try at the posts. Hanley’s conversion reduced their arrears to 26-13 with 13 minutes remaining.

But any hopes that Buccs might salvage something from an entertaining and lively contest were dashed when, following the intervention of a touch judge, Old Wesley were awarded a 77th minute penalty which Joshua Miller duly guided between the posts to complete the 29-13 scoreline.

Overall this was a spirited and very willing team effort by Buccaneers on an unfamiliar surface with a number of players operating out of position and others being relatively inexperienced. Martin Staunton and John Sutton gave it their all in the front row where teenager O’Reilly can be quite happy with his hour’s shift. Moloney’s aggression was a loss for the second half. Reilly showed his class at scrumhalf and his halfback partner Hanley continues to blossom. Lynch settled into his unfamiliar role at fullback, his eager and exuberant endeavours keeping opponents busy, while Layden led by example in a central berth that seems best suited for him.

BUCCANEERS:- G.Lynch; F.Hopkins, R.O’Connor, S.Layden (captain ), C.Boland; M.Hanley, C.Reilly; H.O’Reilly, J.Sutton, M.Staunton; R.Byrne, T.Rensford; A.Kruger, R.Moloney and E.Galvin. Replacements:- O.Treacy (for Kruger, 24 mins ), A.Wynne (for Boland, inj. 28 mins ), A.Kruger (for Treacy, 34 mins ), O.Treacy (for Moloney, inj. h/t ), R.Grenham (for O’Reilly, 59 mins ), R.Enraght-Moony (for Hopkins, 78 mins ) and D.Browne.

Banbridge pre-match function

Buccaneers play their final All-Ireland League home fixture of the season when Banbridge visit Dubarry Park on April 6. This crunch game will be preceded by a pre-match function of lunch with wine, complimentary matchday programme and free admission to the stand. Cost is only €30 per person. Groups and individuals can be catered for. Contact Pat Hynes 0876883833 or Geraldine 0861732711 to book.

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