Buccaneers, who have advanced to the Ulster Bank League Division 1B play-offs, travel to Terenure College for their final group game at Lakelands Park tomorrow, Saturday.
Last Saturday’s exciting win over UL Bohemians means that Buccs will be monitoring results elsewhere with Dolphin or Young Munster the most likely opponents at the promotion/relegation stage. A splendid display against UL Bohs ensures Buccs are already guaranteed to play more rugby this season following the 24-23 triumph.
The Pirates left it very late to take the spoils with Jack Carty converting his own 73rd minute try to edge out a UL Bohs outfit after a thrilling tussle. Buccs were forced to make three changes for the contest with UL Bohs as Sam McCormack, Conor Kindregan, and Conor Finn returned to the starting XV.
With two youthful squads in opposition on a firm sod in dry conditions, the exchanges were always going to be lively despite the diagonal breeze. UL Bohs were quick to capitalise on this and Shane Airey slotted an early penalty. But it took Buccs’ just a minute to strike back with Mark Dolan somehow conjuring up space to dink an inviting ball over the cover for Layden to chase and dive over wide on the left for the opening try which Carty could not convert.
Six minutes later, Danny Qualter won lineout possession to set Kolo Kiripati rumbling in unopposed for Buccs second try on the left with Carty’s conversion not awarded after some consultation by the match officials. At this stage the scoreboard read 10-3 to Buccaneers, but it was UL Bohs turn for a prompt retort and Robbie Bourke surged in on the right to touchdown within three minutes; again another conversion was missed.
The Limerick side’s scrumhalf Tim Rafferty was yellow-carded four minutes later when he deliberately knocked on to spoil a Buccs overlap on the right. Carty’s resultant penalty was carried wide by the fresh breeze. But the Midlanders made their temporary numerical superiority pay when, following a fine Kindregan drive forward, Kiripati was in support to grab his second try. Carty had the first successful placekick of the afternoon when he converted this 24th minute touchdown.
The kicking woes of both sides continued when Bourke’s 28th minute penalty drifted wide of the near upright but, from the restart, Ed Kelly made good ground for the visitors and Ireland u20 No 8 Jack O’Donoghue finished off the move for an unconverted try on the right. Halftime arrived with Kiripati in the sin bin the Athlone side 17-13 ahead.
Within two minutes of the restart, Darren Moloney sailed through a gap and his try under the posts was converted by Airey to put UL Bohs back in the lead.
Despite being back to a full complement, Buccaneers were struggling to impose themselves on the proceedings. They looked in real trouble when Airey’s 64th minute penalty nosed the Munster visitors’ 23-17 ahead. A quickly tapped penalty by Layden roused some momentum and raised the encouragement from the crowd. Finally, Buccs got some territory as they held on to possession in a more measured manner for a spell and the busy Conor Finn began to make his presence felt.
Seven minutes from time, he was in the vanguard of a well-worked attack that stretched the visitors’ defence and Carty showed class and composure to wrong-foot the UL cover for a smartly taken bonus point try. His conversion then secured the vital victory, although the Pirates had to survive a real scare in the dying moments when Airey blazed a penalty wide from a very kickable position.