Buccaneers won this evening’s bottom of the table clash in AIB League Division 1B, edging out Dungannon by five points at Dubarry Park on Saturday.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, February 20
BUCCANEERS 15 DUNGANNON 10, Dubarry Park
Scorers: Buccaneers: Tries: Brian Tuohy, Sean Stapleton; Con: Adam Kennedy; Pen: Adam Kennedy
Dungannon: Try: Conor Gaston; Con: James Shiells; Pen: James Shiells
Tries from Connacht’s Brian Tuohy – his second of the league campaign – and promising young winger Sean Stapleton set Buccaneers up for a 15-7 half-time lead.
Indeed, in new coach David Henshaw’s first game in charge, Buccs were 15-0 to the good by the half hour mark.
Tuohy, who returned in midfield alongside Paul Harte, scored one of the fastest tries in AIB League history when he dotted down after just a minute and 18 seconds’ play.
He spun past Dungannon winger Craig Gilroy and a sizeable gap opened up for the Ireland Sevens and ‘A’ international to race over for a stunning try, which scrum half Adam Kennedy converted.
The Pirates established an early foothold up front, with team captain Colm Rigney and busy back rowers Kolo Kiripati and Stephen Burke setting the tone at the breakdown and in ball-carrying terms.
Dungannon out-half James Shiells missed a penalty before Tuohy and South African full-back JH Potgieter combined to set up Stapleton for Buccs’ second try.
Dungannon hit back strongly in a frenetic first half, kicking a close range penalty to touch. But Buccs, pumped up with a new coach on board, defended their line manfully and a terrific break by flanker Colin Watters got the hosts on the attack once again.
Dungannon centre Paul Magee was penalised for slowing down ruck ball for Buccs and was sent to the sin-bin, with Kennedy landing the resulting penalty to further boost Buccs’ hopes of registering their first win in seven league games.
The Tyrone side managed to cross the whitewash in first half injury-time, with winger Conor Gaston doing very well to beat off three would-be tacklers and cruise through for a try which Shiells converted.
The second half was a slugfest with the quality of rugby taking a dip as a nervy Buccs seemed content to try and hold onto their lead, against an increasingly potent ‘Gannon outfit.
Watters went close to scoring a third Buccs try but he lost control as he surged towards the line, while Gaston and fellow wide man Gilroy were causing problems for the hosts at the other end.
Potgieter missed a penalty from 35 metres out and a nail-biting finish ensued.
Shiells’ only successful penalty, just minutes after an effort that bounced back off the post, closed the gap to five points but that was as close as the visitors got – despite the best efforts of the elusive Gilroy late on.
BUCCANEERS: JH Potgieter; Conor Lavelle, Paul Harte, Brian Tuohy, Sean Stapleton; Alex Hayman, Adam Kennedy; Martin Staunton, Garreth Halligan, Conor Higgins, Colm Rigney (capt), James Tormey, Kolo Kiripati, Colin Watters, Stephen Burke.
Replacements used: Benny Gilligan for Staunton (74 mins, Billy Henshaw for Stapleton (76).
DUNGANNON: John McGuckin; Conor Gaston, Glen Telford, Paul Magee, Conor Gilroy; James Shiells, David Spence; Glen Sinnamon, Richard Carleton, Justin Fitzpatrick, Neville Magee, Michael Rainey, Derek Hall, Ali Birch, Stuart McKenzie (capt).
Replacements used: Mark Farquhar for Sinnamon (39 mins-half-time, blood sub).
Referee: Leo Colgan (IRFU)