BUCCANEERS 21 NAAS 19
Buccaneers received a rude awakening in the opening half of this J.P.Fanagan Leinster U20 Premier League 3 encounter at Dubarry Park on Sunday when Naas, despite having only 14 players, raced into a deserving 19-0 halftime lead.
On a mild afternoon, playing conditions were near perfect but it took Buccs far too long to get to the pace of the contest before retrieving the situation with a greatly improved second half effort. Victory ensured Buccs retain second place in the league table.
As the visitors arrived with a depleted front row, scrums were uncontested. Buccs were possibly complacent due to their numerical superiority while Naas, fielding a towering pack, were fired up. The Co. Kildare outfit were helped by an early converted try scored between the uprights with the help of an interception.
They stretched their advantage to 12-0 at the end of the opening quarter with some tepid home tackling assisting them to this try. Five minutes from halftime a casual Ruadhri Fallon pass was picked off by Naas and they duly dotted down between the posts for another converted try. This typified Buccs error ridden and sometimes shambolic display in that opening period.
Buccaneers made a number of changes at the interval and gradually their play improved. A fine passing move was finished off in style by one of the replacements David Colgan for a 48th minute try which Fallon converted.
Buccs now began to find their rhythm and a flowing move took Jack Finn deep into the visitors’ 22 on the left. The Pirates were patient in maintaining this attack and, after several surges towards the line, James Connolly drove over for the homesters second try. Fallon’s conversion tightened the scoreline to 14-19.
This was quickly followed by a tremendous maul from a lineout on the left and another substitute Lasha Laoshvilli surged over for Buccs third try in a devastating eight minutes spell.
Fallon’s conversion edged Buccs two points ahead, an advantage they retained to the finish of this competitive joust that threatened to boil over on a couple of occasions. Naas had a penalty that fell short on the hour mark while the Shannonsiders were unlucky not to secure a try bonus point when Colgan appeared to be impeded while chasing his own kick ahead with ten minutes remaining.
Nevertheless, Buccs will have been relieved to prevail against a well-drilled and committed Naas who, by virtue of a walkover against Coolmine last week, retain top spot on the league table. The homesters made far too many errors for their own good but greatly eliminated mistakes following the change of ends. Switches made for the second period paid dividends. Fionn McDonnell, Cian McCann and Connolly did well in the pack while Orrin Burgess, Leo MacFarlane and Tom Shine to the fore in the backs unit.
Buccaneers away to Dolphin
Buccaneers senior team make the long trip south to the real capital where they take on Dolphin in round six of the Energia All-Ireland League at Musgrave Park, Cork, on Saturday. This Division 2A game has a 2.30 p.m. kick off.
Dolphin made a very promising start to the league with two fine victories. But, following a 60-0 defeat away to leaders Queen’s University, the Munster men have lost a further two matches. Under coach Brian Scott they will have been working hard during the International break to reignite their campaign and will be razor keen to get back to winning ways as soon as possible. Daryl Foley, Brian O’Mahony, Murray Linn, Cam O’Shaughnessy and Rob Reardon are all able operators so are well capable of stemming their slump in form.
For their part, Buccaneers have been improving game by game but must be more consistent and disciplined to maintain their place among the division’s pacesetters. Tabo Maree and Rory O’Connor are their major injury doubts but, otherwise, the Pirates have a near full crew to select from. Young backs such as Michael Hanley, Ruadhri Fallon, Stephen Mannion and Saul O’Carroll are playing in an exciting manner with forwards Evan Galvin, Danny Qualter, Ruairi Byrne and Martin Staunton giving them a platform.
The artificial surface at Musgrave Park should suit Buccs endeavours to move the ball swiftly. If the midlanders remain on song they have the wherewithal to come out on top although they can expect a refocussed Dolphin to make this a real test.