Buccaneers signalled their intent for the All-Ireland League season ahead by outmuscling Division 2 champions Lansdowne in a compelling clash at Dubarry Park on Saturday.
Tries from back row duo Colin Watters and Kolo Kiripati and the clincher in injury-time from busy centre Paul Harte were the highlights of a promising display by Buccs, who are now coached by South African Hendre Marnitz.
Lansdowne had a number of new signings dotted throughout their team, including half-backs Eoghan Hickey and John Cooney and hooker Tom Sexton.
Buccs started at breakneck speed, taking a 10-0 lead inside the opening six minutes. Scrum half David Connellan kicked an opening penalty before a series of pick and goes from the Buccs pack led to Watters’ converted score.
But two penalties from Hickey after 16 and 31 minutes got Lansdowne into the game, with captain John Lyne, Stephen Keogh and Eoin Sheriff carrying well up front.
When Lansdowne seized quick turnover ball before half-time – thanks to a tackle from flanker Ben Horan – replacement Shane Gahan was put through for a try out wide on the left.
Hickey missed the conversion, leaving the Dubliners with a 11-10 advantage for a second half during which they had the wind advantage.
It was up front where Buccaneers were able to put Lansdowne under pressure and the powerful Kiripati crashed over for a 58th minute try direct from a scrum. Connellan tagged on the conversion.
Lansdowne set up a dramatic conclusion by notching a try in the final minute of normal time. A Buccs move broke down, the ball was kicked on by Cooney and winger Ross McCarron displaying some fine footballing skills and pace to get the touchdown.
Hickey missed the conversion, leaving his side just 17-16 behind. However, Buccs made certain of the win when they attacked the visitors’ 22, swinging play to the right and then left before Harte broke through for a well-taken try.
Replacement Adam Kennedy had a chance to rob Lansdowne of their losing bonus point, but he sent his conversion attempt wide of the uprights.
Referee: Trevor Collins (IRFU)