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Buccaneers Make It Four Wins From Four

Buccaneers Make It Four Wins From Four

Buccaneers maintained their 100% winning start to the Ulster Bank League when they recorded a dramatic and thrilling victory over Shannon, winning this Division 1B clash 25-22 at Dubarry Park on Saturday.

Weather conditions did their utmost to impact negatively on this match with showers and, more crucially, a strong blustery breeze disrupting the proceedings.

However, Buccaneers will not care one whit as they snaffled a historic first ever Ulster Bank League victory over the nine-time champions with a blistering finish.

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The Athlone side welcomed Shane Layden and Conor Finn back to action after prolonged injury absences, while Ben Carty again deputised ably for elder brother Jack who was called up to the Connacht squad.

Diarmuid Higgins was preferred to Peter Reilly on this occasion and the flame-haired tighthead prop put in a storming effort to claim the Audi Athlone man-of-the-match award.

Shannon too had changes with Luke O'Dea ruled out through injury and hooker Duncan Casey included in the Munster panel.

Shannon's captain for the day, Tadhg Bennett, opened the scoring with a fifth penalty but Buccs were ahead within two minutes. Carty made a wonderful snipe that outwitted the visitors and he set up Martin Staunton for a try which the teenage out-half converted.

Bennett curled over a penalty at the end of the opening quarter before Shannon's Richie Mullane provided the overlap in a swift counter attack after 23 minutes to get in for an unconverted try on the left.

This put the Limerick side 11-7 ahead, however a Carty penalty ten minutes later after Niall Horan was yellow carded left the minimum between the sides at half-time.

Carty nosed the Pirates back into the lead with a 49th minute penalty but Bennett replied on the hour mark. In between, Luke Satchwell made a splendid break that caused mayhem in the Shannon defence – only to lack support when looking to offload the scoring pass.

The rain had now passed but the diagonal wind became more influential in favour of the visitors and Buccs looked in dire trouble when replacement Reilly was sin-binned and Bennett added his fourth penalty for a 17-13 advantage to Shannon with just 12 minutes remaining.

However, the midlanders continued to take the game to Shannon and growing pressure was rewarded when Higgins powered through for a try five minutes from time.

Three minutes later, Steve Macauley made a magnificent angled raid from his own half and Billy Henshaw was up in support to receive a deft offload to surge in for a try which Carty converted to finally put Buccs in command at 25-17.

There was still time in a thrilling finale for Shannon to rescue a losing bonus point when Keith White rumbled in for his side's second try.

Despite that late concession, Buccs were in celebratory mood following this fourth straight success that keeps them in second place in the Division 1B table.

The Pirates travel west next Friday night to take on Connacht rivals Corinthians, who have also won their four opening matches to sit third in the table. It should be a fascinating contest at Corinthian Park.

Referee: Shane Kierans (IRFU)