RUGBY with MICHAEL SILKE

BUCCANEERS 20 DUBLIN UNIVERSITY 17

BUCCANEERS got back to winning ways in the Ulster Bank League but they left it until the final move of the match to outfox Dublin University when Kolo Kiripati rampaged through the Students defence for the vital try that snatched a dramatic 20-17 Division 1B victory. Played in much improved weather and on a pitch that is really standing up well, Buccs faltered after a promising start but fashioned a splendid score with the match clock “in the red” for a crucial win.

Buccaneers had a number of positional switches and three changes in personnel from the below par loss at Malone. Luke Satchwell returned after injury at No.8 with Kolo Kiripati moving to blindside flanker. Callum Boland and Conor Finn were also fully fit to start at fullback and centre respectively. Trinity arrived with a settled side that included recent arrival Sam Windsor at standoff and the Australian was influential in some of their best play.

Although the Students had the benefit of the elements in the first half, it was the Pirates who had the better of the early exchanges. They were quickly on the scoreboard when Jack Carty landed a fourth minute penalty after the visitors went offside. Six minutes later, the midlanders breached the College defence for a fine try. Carty and Mark Dolan linked up neatly to launch an attack that was carried on up the left by Satchwell. Shane Layden then made a super break harking back to his swash-buckling form of a couple of seasons ago and he got the ball wide to Billy Henshaw who cut back in from the right to send Layden powering in for an unconverted try.

Boland and Ariel Robles tangled chasing a kick ahead but referee Mark Patton whistled back for an earlier infringement and a kickable 13th minute penalty for Trinity that was missed by the usually reliable Windsor. Just before the end of the opening quarter, Martin Staunton and Garreth Halligan carried menacingly but Henshaw knocked on before Buccs could inflict further damage. However, following a 24th minute close-in scrum on the right, Buccs calmly went through the phases and Finn finished it off emphatically when surging over on the left for a try which was again not converted. Nevertheless, Buccs led 13-0 and were playing some decent rugby. 

However, they seemed to think further scores would follow handily while Dublin University had other ideas. They gradually got a greater share of possession and consequently territory. Their endeavours were eventually rewarded when Pierce Dargan forced his way in for a 34th minute try which Windsor converted. Just before halftime, Carty intercepted in the middle of his own half but the Students scrambled sufficiently to stop progress and, following a subsequent ruck, Dolan was yellow carded as Buccs began to concede too many penalties. Windsor knocked over the resultant placekick with the final action of the half that ended with the scoreline now tightened to 13-10 in favour of the hosts.

Rain heralded the restart as Mata Fifita replaced Kiripati in the home pack. Buccs again started the better. Carty kicked a penalty to touch on the left but a knock-on in the lineout spoiled this position. He then opted for a kick to the right from a second penalty and, following the lineout, Buccs got a good drive going but, when the ball was moved to Boland, he was isolated and Trinity held their line intact.

Dublin University then applied some pressure that was cleared by Layden but the referee despatched Carty to the sin bin for lazy defending in an offside position just as Dolan was rejoining the fray.

The Students pounced on this second opportunity and Brian du Toit found a yawning gap on the Buccs ten metre line to race in for a try at the posts which Windsor converted to turn the scoreboard around to 17-13 in favour of College. It could have got worse for the homesters as Nick McCarthy blocked down a Carty clearance and shortly afterwards Windsor missed a second penalty kick with twelve minutes remaining.

There was plenty endeavour in the final quarter but a lack of real quality as both sides erred regularly. Carty took a wrong option when trying to go it alone on 72 minutes when he had a two-man overlap to his left and then, after Trinity’s Paddy Lavelle was sin-binned following discussion with a touch judge by the referee, he drilled his penalty attempt to touch over the deadball line. The same touch judge soon drew the ire of home fans too when he flagged Kiripati (who had returned to action for Conor Kindregan on the hour mark) for a challenge on Angus Lloyd. A penalty to the visitors was the outcome, a harsh call against the Athlone standard bearers. Windsor punted to touch, and it seemed that Buccs would come up short. But the talismanic Samoan had the final say when, after Satchwell, Eoghan O’Reilly and Peter Reilly all combined to get the ball away smartly from the Buccs danger zone, Kiripati thundered through a number of tackles to be his side’s saviour as his desire and strength carried him over the Trinity line. This was the final move of the match and also Buccs best one of the game at a time of crisis. Carty converted the try with the final kick to complete the 20-17 winning scoreline.

Buccs again demonstrated both the good and the frustrating aspects of their recent play. From a promising early dominance, concentration and focus dropped and they became disjointed and inconsistent. Boland shone throughout and was a worthy AUDI ATHLONE Man of the Match winner with Finn also busy in the backline while Satchwell and Reilly were most effective in the forwards battle. This College test report might read ‘must do better’, but the win will surely lift the Pirates sails and restore confidence in their ability and potential. Although UL Bohemian’s bonus point win against Malone edges them a point ahead of Buccs, the midlanders are still very much in the hunt for the playoff berth with both Corinthians and UL Bohs yet to visit Dubarry Park in the league run in. Meanwhile, Trinity will be disappointed to depart with only a losing bonus point, but it could be a precious one, and in Windsor they have sourced a fine heir for Cathal Marsh or David Joyce at flyhalf while substitute Andy Keating made an impact following his early introduction.

BUCCANEERS:-  C.Boland; B.Henshaw, C.Finn, A.Hayman (captain), S.Layden; J.Carty, M.Dolan; M.Staunton, G.Halligan, P.Reilly; J.Tormey, D.Qualter; K.Kiripati, C.Kindregan and L.Satchwell. Replacements:- M.Fifita (for Kiripati, h/t), D.Higgins (for Reilly, 51 mins), K.Kiripati (for Kindregan, 60 mins), S.Macauley (for Henshaw, 60 mins), J.Walshe (for Staunton, 68 mins) and E.O’Reilly (for Layden, 68 mins).

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY:- J.Fitzpatrick; N.Adeolukan, E.Barry, P.Lavelle, A.Robles; S.Windsor, A.Lloyd; D.Crosbie, R.Halpin, M.Kelly; W.Scott, J.Kelly (captain); P.Dargan, B.du Toit and J.Dilger. Replacements:- A.Keating (for Crosbie, 25 mins), J.Boland (for Halpin, inj. 34 mins), N.McCarthy (for Dargan, 54 mins), P.Dargan (for J.Kelly, 68 mins), J.Costigan and C.Carriaga,

REFEREE:- Mark Patton (IRFU).

BUCCS AWAY TO CORK CON IN VITAL U-20 FIXTURE

BUCCANEERS U-20s are on the road to Cork yet again this season when they head south for a top of the table South-West Conference Division One clash with Cork Constitution at Temple Hill on Saturday. Kick off is 2.30 p.m. at time of writing but, due to a certain England v Ireland game at Twickenham later in the afternoon, the Cork Con match is likely to have an earlier starting time and may indeed be played at neighbouring Mahon. (Both pitches are accessed just after the Jack Lynch tunnel.)

With the Cork clubs adamant that they were not travelling to Connacht in this league this season, the odds were stacked against Buccs, Galwegians and N.U.I.G/Corinthians in this competition with four trips each to the “real” capital. Hopefully, this issue will be resolved in time for next season. In the meantime, this young Buccs squad has surprised many pundits with a tremendous showing to date, their winning streak coming to an end when they lost narrowly to UCC last time out. Nevertheless, in very difficult conditions, the young Pirates took some booty home in the form of a losing bonus point and one more point on Saturday should assure them of a place in the playoffs.

But it will be a tough, testing hurdle to overcome Cork Con whose strength lies in their pack. Like Buccaneers they have two players in the Ireland U-20 squad, hooker Max Abbott and tighthead prop Rory Burke who started both ‘Electric Ireland’ games in Dubarry Park recently. Buccs duo are, of course, prop Jacob Walshe and flanker Rory Moloney, who is also Ireland U-19 captain. Cork Con’s key operators are outhalf Tomas Quinlan and No.8 Michael Murphy, who skippers the southerners.

Buccs are not the biggest of outfits but they are well-drilled and balanced with a decent depth of experience and potency in their mix. Halfbacks Ben Carty and Ricky Dixon form a vital cog in the side. Eoghan O’Reilly, Sean Doyle and Harry Hughes are classy backs and Sean Dempsey, Brian Gilligan, Robbie Ashe, Cormac Langan and Barry Goode are others who can be counted on in the backline. Upfront Saba Meunargia, Conor McGrath and the versatile Conor Morrissey will battle right to the finish. Cian Romaine and Josh O’Rourke are two hugely promising locks who must make their presence felt while Sam McCormack, Evan Galvin and Ross Enraght-Moony are a competitive and mobile backrow. Dan Kiely and Paul McLoughlin will also relish getting a taste of the action. Key to Buccs chances will be discipline, attitude and unrelenting commitment. If focus and application matches their potential, then Buccaneers are capable of upsetting the favourites. 

OTHER FIXTURES

With Monivea and Claremorris being unable to field, both Buccaneers Seconds and Thirds were inactive last weekend. The Seconds are away to Galwegians in the Connacht Junior 1B League at Crowley Park, Glenina, on Sunday, 2.30 p.m kick off. Free-scoring Wegians are clear leaders in this division but Buccs, lying just behind second placed Ballyhaunis with a game in hand, really must put it up to the hosts if they are to close in on that second spot in the league table. The Pirates have shown mixed form to date but, hopefully, they will have a solid squad on duty that can eke out a vital win.

The Thirds are home to Castlebar in a rescheduled Connacht J2 League fixture with a 2.30 p.m. start at Dubarry Park on Sunday. The Thirds are also in third place in their league table, four points adrift of Ballinasloe but with two games in hand. Castlebar lie in mid-table and may not have the same incentive for battle against a formidable Buccs squad at this level. The midlanders should prevail on home soil.

PITCH USAGE!

All teams are again reminded that the main pitch at Dubarry Park is out of bounds until, at least, after the series of Ireland U-20 fixtures there. Depending on pitch and weather conditions thereafter, the main pitch may be made available so that all teams get a chance to play on it. In the meantime, team mentors are reminded that there is a booking facility for the club’s pitches on our website. Requests for usage should be submitted BEFORE the weekly Executive Committee meetings on Tuesday nights. Again we ask all teams to respect our facilities.

LOTTO

Recent numbers drawn in BUCCANEERS LOTTO were as follows:-

28th January — 19, 23, 24 & 28. Mary Quain matched three numbers to win €200.

4th February — 9, 10, 16 & 23. Seamus Farrell and Jim Keane matched three numbers each to share €200.

11th February — 3, 8, 23 & 29. No winner.

The JACKPOT now stands at €7,000. The club thanks all who are supporting this draw.

CONGRATULATIONS

Hearty congratulations and best of luck to Laura Nicholson and Alex Hayman who got engaged on Valentine’s night. ‘Haggy’ is a true romantic after all!

Congrats too to Colin Kenny who played in Ireland U-18s impressive 26-9 win away to Italy.  

CONDOLENCES

Deepest sympathy is extended to Cora O’Rourke and family on the death of her father Sean Potts, late of The Chieftains. Ar dheis De a anam. 

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