Buccs Blip a Long-Distant Memory

Buccaneers surged back into victory mode with a high-scoring 33-20 win over Dungannon on Dubarry soil Saturday afternoon.

Played in near-perfect conditions, Buccaneers succumbed first in the opening minute infringeing at the breakdown several yards from their own crossbar. Former Buccaneer Jaryd Bennett made no mistake with the three on offer. Buccaneers replied with interest within the first five minutes however, raising the stakes with a John O’Brien-try under the bar.

Minus invalids James Robinson and Callum Boland, Buccaneers had the luxury of Martin Staunton (loosehead), Brian Tuohy (left wing), and forwards Michael Kearney and Eoghan Grace for the fixture. Adam Kennedy stepped in for Alex Hayman in the midfield. With nary a moment spared, Dan Qualter found Shane Layden with some sleight-of-hand, and Layden punished the half-asleep tourists with a streaking dash down the right-hand touchline. Only the paintwork denied John Carty the extra two.

The Tyrone troupe responded immediately but a forward-pass scuppered their initial comeback. That said, Chris Cochrane flew through a midfield gap to close the score to 10-12 within the first quarter-hour.

Dungannon subbed Paul McCarroll early but replacement Callum Threlfall earned himself a yellow card within seconds of his arrival for collapsing a maul on his own goal-line. Buccaneers set up camp deep in Dungannon territory but were unable to breach the bulwarks. Local skipper Kolo Kiripati caught the bum’s rush of a redeal shortly after, falling afoul of the cards – another yellow – but desperate defence from the ever-present Tuohy denied Dungannon a second try moments from the break.

Poised to swing either way at 12-10, the opening 20 of the second spell was a tentative affair both sides well-aware any mistake could prove costly. Dungannon’s Bennett posted another three to take the lead by one with a penalty, but again Buccaneers responded in kind… A promising forward drive from the Buccaneers forced Dungannon’s hand and Carty posted another three, and several short phases later Tuohy made short work of the space between himself and the Holy Grail powering over in the tackle for a 67th-minute try. Carty’s radar was on-song, and Buccaneers stretched their lead to 22-13.

Carty took to the skies, and while Cochrane answered the challenge he was swamped by marauding Pirates who secured a penalty with 10minutes to go – bread and butter for Carty (25-13).

Dungannon, down but far from out, threw caution to the wind, switched centre McCloskey to outhalf and Ali Birch reaped dividends from a stock solid pushover try with six minutes on the clock. At 25-20, Dubarry was on tenterhooks for the closing chapter. Carty pushed the boat out with another penalty for an eight-point buffer. Deja Vu struck Dungannon hard when a Threlfall tackle earned him another spell on the sideline and a man up Buccaneers plundered the numerical advantage.

Slick hands and a well-engineered overlap gave Conor Lavelle a sniff of the goods and he made it Buccaneers’ fourth on the stroke of full-time. Flying winger Layden faced stiff competition for the ‘AUDI ATHLONE man of the match’ accolade with Mark Dolan, flanker Grace, prop Buckley and number-10 Carty all in contention.

Buccaneers break for seasonal festivities join second, two points adrift of Ballymena.

BUCCANEERS: J.O’Brien; S.Layden, P.Harte, A.Kennedy, B.Touhy; J.Carty, M.Dolan; M.Staunton, G.Halligan, D.Buckley; M.Kearney, D.Qualter; D.Heffernan, E.Grace and K.Kiripati (captain). Replacements used:- S.Stapleton (for Halligan, 75 mins), C.Lavelle (for O’Brien, 75 mins), A.Hayman (for Kennedy, 75 mins), B.Gilligan (for Staunton, 78 mins) and J.Tormey (for Kearney, 78 mins). Temporary substitution: Tormey (for Kearney, 39-42 mins).

DUNGANNON: C.Gaston; M.O’Shea, P.McKenzie, S.McCloskey, C.Cochrane; J.Bennett, K.Campbell; G.Sinnamon, A.Duhig, M.Farquhar; P.McCarroll, M.Jenkinson (captain); D.Hall, R.Halsall and A.Birch. Replacements:- C.Threlfall (for McCarroll, 20 mins), J.McMahon (for Birch, 65 mins) and Birch (for Bennett, 71 mins). Temporary substitution: McMahon (for Hall, 58-62 mins). REFEREE: Leo Colgan (IRFU).

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