Buccaneers got back to winning ways at home with an impressive 32-14 victory in their Saturday night Ulster Bank League Division 1B tussle with Malone at Dubarry Park.
This festive floodlit encounter, sponsored by Sheraton Athlone Hotel, attracted a decent attendance who enjoyed a fairly lively contest on a relatively mild night.
The home fans went home in buoyant mood for the Christmas sojourn as Buccaneers secured a richly deserved bonus point win.
The Pirates were much more business-like than in their error-ridden loss to Ballymena as they began at a high tempo that Malone could not match and the early pressure yielded two out of three successful penalties by Callum Boland in the opening seven minutes.
A fine maul was finished by Kolo Kiripati for a 20th minute try which Boland converted and just four minutes later, the out-half split the Belfast club's defence for a smashing solo try. His conversion gave the midlanders a healthy 20-0 advantage.
Quick thinking by the visitors caught the hosts napping ten minutes later when Conor Joyce swiftly tapped a close-in penalty and he offloaded to his brother, centre Kieran, for a try at the posts. Neil Burns' conversion reduced Malone's half-time deficit to 20-7.
Buccs were not as sharp in the third quarter during which prop Jacob Walshe was sin-binned for offside on 47 minutes and the Ulster side came more into the game despite Paul Jackson's yellow card just before the interval.
They made further inroads into Buccs' lead when Tom Burns surged over for a 56th minute try on the left which out-half Neil Burns – one of three brothers in the Malone team – converted to tighten the margin to 20-14.
But Buccaneers made a near instant riposte with Kiripati rampaging through for his second and Buccs' third try on the hour mark.
The Athlone outfit made one more successful raid in the final move of a pacey contest and Connacht flanker Mata Fifita showed great desire and strength to crash over to earn Buccaneers' first try bonus point of the season.
Audi Athlone man-of-the-match Boland (pictured above) proved a highly capable deputy in the number 10 jersey and he landed a splendid conversion to complete the 32-14 victory that keeps Buccs securely in the top five, while depleted Malone slip to eighth in the Division 1B table.
Referee: Olly Hodges (IRFU)