Gritty performance from Buccaneers and they now ascend the league table

GREYSTONES 19 BUCCANEERS 26

RUGBY with MICHAEL SILKE

Buccaneers U-20’s accounted for Greystones in a tense and difficult J P Fanagan Leinster Premier League Two encounter at Dr. Hickey Park. The score line was the same as the previous game away to Dublin University, but this was a very different match to that impressive win over the students.

The first try came on 20 minutes when a sustained set of phases presented Kroupa with the opportunity to burst over the line. McGann, who was on kicking duty for the day, missed the difficult conversion.

The second quarter saw Buccaneers further tighten their grip, particularly at the scrum, but the referee seemed content not to penalise the Greystones retreat. Buccs were also aggressively contesting the rucks, but continuously being penalised by the match official. Rucking is a key part of this young Pirates team game but it was a part they were forced to abandon. It became very frustrating for Buccaneers and, on 30 minutes, Greystones secured scrappy ball in the midfield area and sniped away to score an equalizing try. The missed conversion set up the last 10 minutes of the half, and with both sides losing their discipline, James Kelly received a yellow card and entered the bin on the stroke of half time. Buccaneers were not done, however, and McGann similarly got his hands-on scrappy ball in the midfield and cantered over the line. He nailed a super conversion for 17-7 lead at half time.

Buccaneers continued to dominate the exchanges in the second half, and after a prolonged set of phases on the home team’s line, McDonnell picked and dived over forcibly to open the scoring after 15 minutes, with McGann adding the two points. Conor Watt entered the fray at the end of the third quarter for the impressive Kroupe who had worked tirelessly. The game entered the final quarter with Buccaneers leading by fourteen points, but Greystones finally managed a response. As was the case with their first try, they worked the ball well through hands and found a break in the Buccaneers cover to run in under the posts, resulting in the easiest of conversions. The game lost all shape at this juncture, and with the Greystones team proving to be very undisciplined, the referee finally produced a yellow card for constant fouling, but then incorrectly adjudged that Wheatley-Byrne had thrown a punch at the Greystones tight head. A straight red card followed with the Greystones player receiving yellow. With 10 minutes remaining, Buccaneers were down to fourteen men and Greystones reduced to thirteen!

As the game entered its final minutes, there was what appeared to be a final sting in the tale for Buccaneers when Greystones again benefited from very loose play and scored under the posts. The conversion levelled the game. Buccaneers introduced a new front for the excellent Kelly, Browne and O’Connell, who had all imposed themselves totally on the previous eighty minutes. Cedric Forkin, Cian Daly and Eoghan Cooney would now be needed to hold out the game for a draw.

What happened in an incredible fifteen minutes of added time shows why this Buccaneers team will feel unlucky not to be contesting as league winners this year. Buccs owned the ball as the large crowd looked on in disbelief as the clock ticked past 50 minutes. Camped on the home team’s line, they held on to the ball for almost forty phases of play. Greystones defended for their lives, often infringing without penalty, but could not stem the tide. The replacement front row all had massive moments, whilst Galvin found a second wind to constantly take the ball up. With the referee staring at his watch for the moment to blow for full time, Goncalo Catarino latched on to a pass and found a gap to power over for the winning score. A smiling McGann had the easiest of kicks to add to his debut total as placekicker and complete the 26-19 scoreline.

The win moves Buccaneers into third place adrift of St. Mary’s College and league leaders Old Wesley. Buccaneers next fixture against Galwegians is already a result as the opening qualifier game last October carries over into the league proper. These five points garnered moves Buccs to within one point of second place. So, all eyes on the final league game against Old Wesley on April 7 in Donnybrook. Buccaneers cannot catch the leaders, but will be plotting to spoil the party and have a strong outing before the Purcell Cup commences.

BUCCANEERS:- T.McGann; G.Monticone, S.O’Carroll, D.Ennis, K.Foxe; D.Mulvihill, D.O’Rourke; J.Kelly (captain ), D.Browne, S.O’Connell; F.Galvin, S.Kroupa; K.Wheatey-Byrne, G.Catarino and B.McDonnell. Replacements:-C.Daly, C.Forkin, E.Cooney, C.Watt and C.McMahon.

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