Tonic first victory of the season for brave Buccaneers

Buccaneers 38

Galway Corinthians 28

RUGBY with Michael Silke

Fourteen man Buccaneers scored a tonic bonus point victory over leaders Galway Corinthians in their Connacht Senior League match played in ideal conditions under the Dubarry Park floodlights on Friday night. This was a quite entertaining and lively affair between two youthful squads with Buccs making six changes from their opening game at Sligo.

Buccaneers opened the scoring after just six minutes. Following a penalty punted to the left, possession was won and good recycling saw the ball transferred to the opposite flank where Thomas McGann displayed his finishing prowess for a try converted by Michael Hanley. Corinthians bulkier pack then pressurised the homesters with a series of close-in scrums that yielded a 15th minute penalty try.

Buccs responded swiftly following a move initiated by a Layden burst on the right and, after Browne was held up just short, his fellow front-rower O’Reilly powered over for a 23rd minute try on the left flank. Hanley landed a smashing conversion.

Corinthians retorted within four minutes, Craig Hansberry applying the finishing touch for a pushover try near the left corner. Simon Keller added a splendid conversion to level the scores 14-14.

Five minutes before halftime, Mark McDermott rashly denied Hopkins a quick tap and go penalty and referee Karol Collins yellow carded the visiting outhalf. Hanley’s resultant penalty brought Buccs close to the Corinthians line and, following the lineout, the midlanders applied a spell of sustained pressure before the ball was popped back to Corbett who side-stepped Hansberry to notch a 37th minute try. Hanley’s conversion rebounded off an upright and, in the final move of the half, Aditya Donovan evaded the fly-half’s meek challenge to send Micheal O’Reilly scampering away for a try. Keller’s successful conversion completed the first half action at which stage Corinthians led 21-19.

Within two minutes of the restart, Hanley made amends when initiating a swift counter attack carried on by Rory O’Connor to link up with McGann whose deft grubber kick unlocked the defence and Layden fastened on to the opportunity to ground the ball for a bonus point try converted by Hanley. Rory Moloney replaced teenager Goncalo Catarino on 46 minutes but within four minutes he incurred a red card following the intervention of a touch-judge.

Corinthians promptly added to the hosts problems with the ensuing penalty giving them a foothold in home territory and, after some slick handling, Rory Murphy dived over for a 52nd minute try converted by Keller for a 28-26 lead. This presented a serious challenge for the title holders but they responded with wonderful spirit and work rate. Graham Lynch was introduced for Hopkins as the hour mark approached and he made an instant impact, his sniping break making good ground and then displaying dogged persistence in retaining possession before off-loading to Corbett who scooted in for a 61st minute try. Hanley’s conversion nosed Buccs 33-28 ahead but there was still a long way to go for the Athlone side’s depleted forces.

Staunton, James Kelly and Darren Buckley all entered the fray and it was Buccaneers who built momentum. Some terrific pressure looked likely to breach the Corinthians rearguard but an ill-judged grubber kick spoiled a real scoring opportunity when more patience was required. But the Pirates continued to make life difficult for the Tribesmen and they forced a forward pass to regain possession. A magnificent scrum enabled Lynch to deliver a snappy pass to his left and Layden surged in for an unconverted 78th minute try to complete the 38-28 winning margin.

BUCCANEERS:- S.Layden (captain ); T.McGann, R.O’Connor, C.Reid, D.Corbett; M.Hanley, F.Hopkins; H.O’Reilly, D.Browne, M.Murphy; R.Byrne, T.Rensford; S.O’Connell, G.Catarino and E.Galvin. Replacements:- R.Moloney (for Catarino, 46 mins ), J.Kelly (for O’Reilly, 58 mins ), G.Lynch (for Hopkins, 58 mins ), M.Staunton (for Murphy, 68 mins ), D.Buckley (for Browne, 70 mins ) and G.Fallon.

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