BuccsBuccs back up to second following another bonus point victory

by MICHAEL SILKE 

BUCCANEERS 32   BLACKROCK COLLEGE 18 

BUCCANEERS maintained their relentless pursuit of the promotion play-off berth when they defeated Blackrock College 32-18 in their Ulster Bank League Division 1B game played at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Saturday. They secured a bonus point victory in the process that lifts the midlanders to second place, whilst defeat drops Rock perilously close to the relegation door. 

Buccs made four changes, three in the pack and one in the backline where skipper Alex Hayman had recovered from illness to replace Conor Finn who was suffering from a bug. Props Martin Staunton and Diarmuid Higgins started on this occasion while James Tormey was fit again to lineout in the second row. Blackrock arrived with a fairly settled side for this game that both sides needed to win for differing reasons.  Rain and mist descended shortly before kick off, which did not help the attendance, but there was nothing dull or dreary about this encounter in which there was decent intensity particularly in the opening half.

Buccs made the running from the start but Blackrock opened the scoring courtesy of an 8th minute David Godfrey penalty in their first excursion into home territory. Buccs struck back quickly with Shane Layden and Billy Henshaw attacking down the right before being stopped into touch close to the Rock line. The Pirates contested the lineout and Diarmuid Higgins swooped on the ball to drive in for a 13th minute try. Jack Carty was unable to convert and also missed a penalty after Tormey was impeded in a lineout. It was third time lucky for the hosts’ outhalf when he converted Garreth Halligan’s 18th minute try after the canny hooker burrowed over following some fine ‘pick and goes’ by Buccaneers.

Mick Carroll’s 24th minute try kept Blackrock in the hunt as they manfully responded but Godfrey missed the straight-forward conversion. College suffered a further setback within minutes when lock Carroll was sin-binned and Buccs soon capitalised, despite Carty’s resultant penalty tailing to the left of the posts. There was some exhilarating play in the build-up to Luke Satchwell’s 30th minute try including a wonderful offload by Hayman to Callum Boland who sent Satchwell scampering away from 25 metres. Carty converted and later traded penalties with Godfrey, the homesters’ penalty emanating from a terrific turnover by Staunton, to leave Buccaneers ahead by double scores at halftime 22-11.

Within one minute of the restart, Buccs grabbed their fourth and ‘bonus point’ try. Kolo Kiripati and Mata Fifita carried forward strongly and Carty finished off this swift counter-attack when he won the chase to his own grubber kick ahead to dot down at the posts. The fly-half was injured in grounding the ball and substitute Ger O’Connor faultlessly took over the place-kicking duties and his conversion, followed by a 55th minute penalty, stretched Buccs lead to 32-11.

The Athlone side’s application and execution was not as sharp thereafter and ‘AUDI ATHLONE Man of the Match’ Steve Macauley denied the Leinster outfit with a brilliant chase back on the hour mark after David Scott-Lennon intercepted a careless pass near halfway. Kiripati was stopped just short of the Dubliners’ line while Fifita and Finn both held on to the ball too long in very promising positions that came to nought. But Rock grabbed the final score when, after the midlanders’ lock James Tormey was yellow-carded for alleged hands in the ruck, the visiting pack drove over the home line where Karl O’Riordan grounded the ball for a 72nd minute try which Godfrey converted. That was as close as Blackrock could get and they now anxiously face into their two final fixtures. 

Meanwhile, with champions Terenure College sending Corinthians home pointless, Buccaneers move one point ahead of their Connacht rivals into second place with just two games remaining in the league. Buccs were purposeful from the off in this tie played in greasy conditions that were less than ideal for handling but the Pirates crew all contributed with substitute O’Connor putting in a notable shift on his debut at this level. Billy Henshaw worked tirelessly as did Danny Qualter and Fifita.

BUCCANEERS:-  C.Boland; B.Henshaw, S.Layden, A.Hayman (captain), S.Macauley; J.Carty, M.Dolan; M.Staunton, G.Halligan, D.Higgins; J.Tormey, D.Qualter; M.Fifita, K.Kiripati and L.Satchwell. Replacements:- C.Finn (for Boland, 31 mins), P.Reilly (for Staunton, 36 mins), G.O’Connor (for Dolan, 38 mins), C.Boland (for Carty, inj. 42 mins), B.Teape (for Higgins, 65 mins), J.Carty (for Henshaw, 65 mins), M.Dolan (for O’Connor, 72 mins) and R.Byrne (for Satchwell, 74 mins).

BLACKROCK COLLEGE:-  J.Simon-Byrne; M.Scott-Lennon, E.van Wyck, R.Keogh, D.Rowan (captain); D.Godfrey, A.Griggs; D.Lewis, R.Fisher, K.Haitana; M.Carroll, O.Cullen; S.Cooke, G.Bulger and R.Marsh. Replacements:- P.Carroll (for Fisher, 53 mins), D.Scott-Lennon (for van Wyck, 53 mins), K.O’Riordan (for Bulger, 64 mins) and R.Fisher (for P.Carroll, 64 mins). 

Referee:-  Eddie Hogan-O’Connell (IRFU).

LANSDOWNE 44  BUCCANEERS 3

BUCCANEERS U-20s league campaign ended in a most disappointing 44-3 defeat by Lansdowne in the quarter-final of the Fraser McMullan Cup played in misty, moist conditions with a light breeze at Kilternan, Dublin, on Saturday.  The hosts had the luxury of half a dozen Ireland U-20s in their lineup and were a much sharper and stronger outfit than anything Buccs had encountered in their league.

The young Pirates were missing a trio of key players Rory Moloney, Saba Meunargia and Tom Finucane through injury while Sean Dempsey was forced off early also due to injury. Conor McKeon kicked three first half penalties for Lansdowne who got the crucial first try in controversial circumstances when a forward came in from the side at a ruck to snaffle possession and send Ian Fitzpatrick racing through for a converted try. A Ben Carty penalty with the final kick of the half was to be Buccs’ solitary score and left Lansdowne 16-3 ahead at the break.

Shane Delahunt grabbed two second half tries for the Leinster side with Oisin Heffernan getting their fourth. McKeon converted two tries and landed a further three penalties for the superior and very fast Lansdowne squad. The final margin did scant justice to Buccaneers endeavours. Jacob Walshe was truly outstanding at loosehead prop. Best support in the pack came from locks Cian Romaine and Josh O’Rourke and No.8 Evan Galvin while Eoghan O’Reilly was pick of the backline.  Buccs now have a brief break before regrouping for a Connacht U-20 Cup final tilt with Galwegians.

BUCCANEERS:-  E.O’Reilly; C.Langan, S.Dempsey, S.Doyle, H.Hughes; B.Carty (captain), R.Ashe; J.Walshe, C.Morrissey, C.McGrath; J.O’Rourke, C.Romaine; S.McCormack, R.Enraght-Moony and E.Galvin. Replacements used:- B.Gilligan, B.Goode, R.Dixon, T.Hynes, J.Gormley, P.Hennessy and D.Kiely.

BUCCANEERS 27  OUGHTERARD 5

HOLDERS BUCCANEERS THIRDS defeated Ard-Na-Cregg Cup final runners-up Oughterard 27-5 in the quarter-final of this year’s competition at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Sunday. Buccs were the stronger and better organised force but the visitors made the homesters toil hard to progress and indeed the margin flattered the recently crowned league champions a little after a game played in decent conditions.

Darren Costello opened the scoring with a penalty inside three minutes. The more physical Oughterard pack caused problems for Buccs but they settled into battle and a series of good drives gained a foothold in the visitors’ half where they earned a penalty. Outhalf Costello caught Oughterard off-guard with a smart tap and go as he arked in for 24th minute try which he also converted. He had a penalty miss either side of half-time when Buccs led 10-0.

The midlanders began to create gaps in the third quarter and Peadar Hennessy started and finished off a 44th minute move for a try on the right. The livewire Hennessy was then sin-binned on 56 minutes as the visitors enjoyed a good spell of pressure. The ageless Jack Clarke was held up at the home line but Mark Bergin was on hand to crash over for a try that left the scoreline reading 15-5.

Buccs continued to punch holes and go forward but lacked a clinical edge on occasion. Their chase was always good, however, and Ryan Sweeney seized possession in this manner after 65 minutes to get the ball moving left to right where Martin Lyons surged over for a try. A couple of other chances went abegging through lack of awareness before Buccs turned over possession at a scrum and Hennessy bolted in for his second try which was converted by Glen Costello to complete the 27-5 victory.

BUCCANEERS:-  G.Costello; R.Sweeney, J.O’Connor, K.Turley, G.Fallon; D.Costello (captain), N.Purcell; C.Galvin, M.Lyons, K.Grehan; G.Kenny, G.Glynn; K.Kennedy, N.Hyland and P.Hennessy. Replacements:- C.Shanley (for Kennedy, 54 mins), C.Hennessy (for Galvin, 66 mins), J.Lopez (for Fallon, 70 mins), A.Daly (for Grehan, 70 mins) and C.Milling (for Kenny, 74 mins).  

CAR WASH

BUCCANEERS U-15s are holding a novel CAR WASH fund-raiser at Dubarry Park next Sunday. So if you wish to get your car spruced up for a good cause, come along. Check on the club’s website for time details. Meanwhile, thanks to everyone who organised and supported the TABLE QUIZ in The Bounty last week run by our U-14s.

CONGRATULATIONS

Congrats to Athlone Institute of Technology on winning the Irish Colleges Cup last week when they scored an excellent 35-7 victory over arch rivals Carlow I.T.

CONDOLENCES

Heartfelt condolences are extended to the family of the late Nicky McFadden, T.D.

Ar dheis De a anam. 

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