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Buccaneers In Free-Scoring Form Against Dungannon

Buccaneers In Free-Scoring Form Against Dungannon

Buccaneers returned to winning ways when they hammered an under-strength Dungannon team 50-7 in their Division 1B encounter under the Dubarry Park floodlights on Saturday night.

Stung by their final kick defeat last time out – and also a slip-up the previous season to another depleted Dungannon outfit – the Pirates were in the mood to quickly get back on track and scored six superb tries in the process.

Buccs made five changes for the game, with the injured Garreth Halligan and Rory Moloney being replaced by David Heffernan and Shane Casey respectively.

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Connacht's Eoin McKeon debuted at number 8 with Luke Satchwell switching to flanker and Conor Kindregan rested.

In the back-line, another of the club's provincial players, Tiernan O’Halloran, returned at full-back and Steve Macauley came in on the wing with Callum Boland and Shane Layden on the bench as head coach Tony Dolan rotated his squad.

Ulster calls really weakened the northerners and Adam Macklin, coming back after injury, was their only provincial representative on duty, while club president Paul Magee returned to his previous role in the centre.

On a lovely calm night, conditions were near perfect for Buccs' fluid style and they began at a high tempo that Dungannon could never match.

However, churlish though it may seem in light of the final tally, the Pirates would have scored even more had they not tried to play at 100 miles an hour for large swathes of this one-sided encounter.

Although camped in 'Gannon territory for virtually all of the opening half, it took Buccs until the 36th minute to breach the visitors’ line when Heffernan profited from a fine James Tormey break and offload.

Hurried passes featured in the second period also when more poise and accuracy would surely have yielded further tries against a game but, on this occasion, outclassed Dungannon side.

A wild pass straight into touch missed two overlapping Buccs players before they opened their scoring with a 10th minute Jack Carty penalty.

Dungannon lock John Joe Kane was yellow carded for some lazy covering after only 13 minutes and the visitors had a second player, Glen Sinnamon, somewhat harshly join his colleague in the sin-bin minutes later.

Carty tagged on a brace of penalties either side of this, while a forward pass denied McKeon – one of eleven former Ireland Under-20s in the home squad – a try on his debut.

Carty failed to convert the opening try but made it four successful penalties in the first half when, with the final act of this period, he stretched the hosts' advantage to 17-0 at the break.

A knock-on denied a gilt-edged home try opportunity moments after the restart but smart handling on 47 minutes yielded a fine Conor Finn try.

Buccs were now able to introduce Layden, Diarmuid Higgins and Kolo Kiripati from their bench before a sizzling Macauley break almost got him to the line, but Satchwell was as ever up in support to grab a 50th minute try.

Layden denied Dungannon a rare scoring chance but from an offside position and thus he visited the sin-bin. Even still the tries mounted for the Pirates. As the game entered the final quarter, Macauley made a scintillating break to notch the bonus point score.

Danny Qualter and Casey combined well down the right flank to make good ground in the build-up to Satchwell’s second try after 66 minutes.

Boland entered the fray as did Rory Grenham, making his senior debut with 12 minutes remaining. Dungannon struggled manfully to stem the onslaught and they finally got some reward for their endeavours when Mark Faloon blocked Layden's chip to offload to Gareth McGonigle who steamed in for a 75th minute try which Stuart McCloskey converted.

However, Buccaneers had the final say when another sweeping attack was finished off by Billy Henshaw in the final move of the game. Carty converted five of the six second half tries, in a 20-point haul, to complete the 50-7 scoreline in favour of the midlanders.

The exciting Macauley was named Audi Athlone man-of-the-match, an accolade that Mark Dolan too could have merited.

This was an exhilarating all-round team display by Buccaneers with tempo and enterprise aplenty that could have been near perfect had the Pirates been a little more measured in their efforts and sharper in their handling on occasion. Centre McCloskey was Dungannon's most impressive contributor on the night.

Referee: Brian MacNeice (IRFU)