The teams shared six tries for the second time this season but Garryowen will be much the happier as they reversed their away loss and denied Buccaneers a losing bonus point at Dooradoyle where it took this game some time to come to the boil.
Proceedings commenced in calm conditions and gorgeous sunshine, although the pitch was understandably soft following the previous night’s sustained rain. Garryowen opened the scoring with a second-minute Jamie Gavin penalty and enjoyed early territory. But Buccs replied through a Callum Boland penalty.
However, the hosts conceded a penalty which Boland stroked over. On 14 minutes he chipped over the cover and kicked ahead, but was tackled by Jamie Glynn over the home line before Boland had possession of the ball. Referee Nigel Correll rightly awarded a penalty try, duly converted by Boland, and also sin-binned the light blues’ scrumhalf.
At this stage, a feast of scores and flowing rugby looked likely but, crucially, Buccs failed to add to their tally while the hosts were depleted despite applying steady pressure and getting within touching distance of the home line. Garryowen began to make inroads approaching the interval. Layden tried to break through the centre in the final minute when it looked more prudent to move the ball to his left and the Munster side turned over possession to apply their best spell of pressure that yielded a penalty. Gavin duly slotted it over with the final kick of the half to leave his side trailing 10-6 at half-time.
James Tormey, Buccs most effective forward, was withdrawn at this stage but the lion-hearted lock was suffering from a bad chest infection and had given his all. He had dominated the lineouts, an area Garryowen profited greatly in in the final half hour. They finally breached Buccs’ committed defending when, after punting a penalty into touch on the left, Garryowen moved the ball allowing Alex Wootton touch down for a 59th-minute try in the corner. Five minutes later, Gavin landed a fine penalty to add to the Limerick side’s momentum.
Following yet another lineout, Rory O’Connor’s missed tackle on the impressive substitute McMahon proved costly as he ghosted in for a 67th-minute try.
Ed Rossiter finished off further strong home play for their third try shortly afterwards and, with Gavin converting both tries for a 28-10 lead, Garryowen set about chasing a bonus point try.
Buccs rallied and, following a fine Conor Finn burst, Rory O’Connor capitalised for an unconverted 77th-minute try in the left corner before Stephen McVeigh dived over for another try. Unfortunately Buccs went home empty-handed as Boland’s conversion unluckily rebounded off an upright to deny them a losing bonus point.