Buccaneers are home to Old Wesley in the Ulster Bank League Division 1B at Dubarry Park on Saturday and, due to the Italy v Ireland match, the game has an unusual 4.30pm kick-off time.
Buccs have won nine and drawn one of their last 10 matches and now lead this division by six points. They will be primed to maintain their momentum against Old Wesley, whose inconsistent form has seen them slip to fifth in the league table, now 14 points adrift of the Pirates.
Last weekend, Brett Wilkinson’s squad extended their lead at the top of the table with a 25-14 victory over Connacht rivals Galwegians at Crowley Park.
While Buccaneers were deserving winners, Galwegians, despite looking strong for much of the contest, were undone in the second half, failing to grab a consolation bonus point.
The visitors to Crowley Park started brightly with a seventh-minute penalty from Alan Gaughan after good work from Rory Moloney and Stephen McVeigh, but Wegians countered with a superb breakaway try. A deep Aidan Moynihan clearance which Brian Murphy fielded was the platform, Ed O’Keeffe continued the counter and it was finished off by Morgan Codyre, with Moynihan converting.
And it got better for the Galway side when Moynihan claimed a second try from a counterattack, stepping inside the cover to touch down, and converting for a 14-3 lead.
Buccaneers, however, continued to take the game to the hosts. Ireland Sevens player, Shane Layden, was prominent for Wilkinson’s men, and it took a try-saving tackle from centre Alan McMahon to stop him. However, Buccs were rewarded for their dominance when hooker John Sutton touched down from a determined maul for a 27th-minute try, with Gaughan converting to narrow the gap to 14-10.
Before the break, Buccs struck again. Wing Jordan Conroy gathered Gaughan’s crossfield kick to stretch over for an unconverted try, leaving the visitors 15-14 ahead.
The home side took control after the break, but had nothing to show for it after a knock-on close to the line and missed penalty attempt from Moynihan. Although Buccs lost Layden to the sin-bin, they added to their tally courtesy of the influential Gaughan. From a penalty to touch, Buccs once again drove to the line. Although held up, scrumhalf Frankie Hopkins sent Gaughan through on the blind despite Jack Dineen’s despairing tackle.
At 20-14, Galwegians spurned a kick at goal to send a penalty to touch. However, Buccs held their line intact and then had the last say. Layden set off on another foray up-field, and from a series of phase play Conroy took advantage of the stretched cover to touch down in the left corner and ensure a bonus-point win for the league leaders.
This completed the 25-14 winning margin and secured a winning bonus point, while also denying Galwegians a losing bonus point.