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Bennett The Match Winner For Shannon

Bennett The Match Winner For Shannon

Shannon scrapped their way to their first win of the AIB League season and had out-half Tadhg Bennett to thank for their Coonagh success over Buccaneers.

AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION ONE: Saturday, October 11

SHANNON 25 BUCCANEERS 21, Coonagh

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Scorers: Shannon: Try: Richie Mullane; Con: Tadhg Bennett; Pens: Tadhg Bennett 5; Drop: Tadhg Bennett
Buccaneers: Tries: Mark Bruce, Simon Rolleston, John O’Brien; Pens: Alan Gaughan 2

Buccaneers outscored Shannon by three tries to one but Tadhg Bennett kicked a match-winning 20 points for the hosts.

The former Under-20 star is beginning to come of age in the Shannon side and marked himself out as a leader on Saturday afternoon, as the hosts came under fierce pressure from Buccs.

There was some added intrigue to this game. Geoff Moylan, who has been reinstalled as Shannon’s coach this season, and Shannon’s number 8 David Quinlan previously coached and played for Buccs respectively.

Beaten at Blackrock last week, Shannon needed a confidence-boosting win and Friday’s news that Mossie Lawlor is going on trial with London Wasps was ill-timed.

Lawlor will be a big loss and with record AIB League points scorer Andrew Thompson out injured, Bennett had to shoulder the kicking burden.

Even if Lawlor’s absence was felt, the Shannon pack was steeled by the inclusion of Munster heavyweights Tony Buckley and Donnacha Ryan – the latter having played as a replacement on Friday night against Montauban.

Ryan partnered Fergal Walsh in Shannon’s second row and claimed a good deal of line-out ball and possession in the loose, particularly during a scrappy opening half.

By the midpoint of the half, the sides were level at 3-3. Former Connacht Under-20 winger Alan Gaughan swapped penalties with Bennett.

Both teams had some loose play – Shannon’s tackling was below par – and although Gaughan tagged on a second penalty soon after, he missed some crucial kicks in the second half. The Pirates missed four kicks at goal in total.

Shannon led 13-11 at half-time. Winger Richie Mullane, touching down for the second week running, beat two men to score close to the posts, allowing Bennett an easier conversion.

Buccs scrum half Mark Bruce, an Ireland Sevens international, showed his pace when picking up a try before the interval.

There were further Buccs tries from teenage winger John O’Brien, who held his own up against dual-playing speedster Stephen Kelly, and out-half Simon Rolleston.

But Bennett’s accuracy from place-kicks decided the game as he punished any indiscretions by a Buccaneers side that included Connacht’s Danny Riordan at full-back and David Gannon in the second row.