NUIG RFC top the League

College v Buccs564NUIG are top of the league after securing a hard-fought 8-5 win over Buccaneers in Dubarry Park. College went into the game off the back of some momentum having won their previous two games. Played in blustery conditions, the match was a scrappy affair throughout with both sides making errors as they sought to impose their respective game plans. Playing against the strong wind in the first half, College started the game brightly, endeavouring at every opportunity to play their trademark brand of expansive, running rugby. In contrast, Buccaneers tried to use their greater weight and size in the pack to dominate and gain territory through direct, pick-and-go play, and mauling off the lineout. After a number of phases of attacking rugby, where repeated, stern defence from Buccaneers denied College a try, Adam Brady, Mel Corbett and inspirational College captain Jack O’Callaghan all carried well into contact, breaching the gainline, before the ball made its way to winger James Kennedy who finished in the corner. Flyhalf Tony Hall was narrowly wide with the conversion.

Buccaneers rallied from the restart and started to get their carrying game going, with their impressive backrow especially prominent in the physical exchanges. College’s standout players in this period were Roy Stanley at eight and Evan McCormack on the flank; both of whom repeatedly stemmed Buccaneers’ pick-and-go game from set piece and in the loose.

After a period of sustained pressure, Buccaneers had the chance to score with a penalty towards the end of the half but the kick went awry in the wind. College turned around in the second half with the slenderest of leads, but with the strong wind at their backs, they started confidently, making repeated breaks and incursions into the Buccaneers’ half. College went close on successive occasions following good phases of play, with Josh Dunne, Cian O’Grady, Billy Delaney, Rob Conneely, Dave O’Mahony and John Kennedy all prominent. Only stern, scramble defence from Buccaneers denied College further tries. College’s next score came after good play from the College pack, with player-coach Pete Small to the fore. Buccaneers infringed at the breakdown and Hall slotted the resultant penalty. The home side then had their best phase of the game and were finally rewarded with a try in the corner from their pack. As the final whistle approached, and with O’Mahony and O’Callaghan leading the line, College held on for the win, and now look forward to their next fixture: a top of the table clash against old rivals Galwegians in Glenina next Sunday.

At the same time as the firsts were in action, the College men’s seconds were unlucky to lose to a try in the final play of their first league game away against Oughterard. Featuring many new players, it was great also to see some College stalwarts return to the fray, especially Kieran McMullan who marked his return from injury with a brace of tries. Other notable performers for the seconds were: captain Jason O’Halloran, Justin Conboy, Tom Downes and Michael O’Mahony.

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