Buccaneers were worthy nine-point victors over Blackrock College in an entertaining Ulster Bank League Division 1B clash at Stradbrook on Saturday.
The midlanders, despite the absence of injured captain Kolo Kiripati and John O'Brien who was on GAA duty, set the tempo from the kick -ff and dominated large swathes of this lively encounter.
Buccs had an early chance to open their account but Jack Carty's penalty from the left drifted wide of the far upright after just two minutes.
A quickly-tapped penalty by returning full-back Shane Layden caused unease in the home defence, before Billy Henshaw's firm tackle stopped Billy Glynn in Blackrock’s first real attack after 12 minutes.
The beefier Blackrock pack posed difficulties for Buccs in the opening quarter but the visitors got to grips with that sector as the game progressed.
The midlanders were enjoying decent territory and pinned the hosts back with sniping breaks and some judicious kicking in glorious autumnal weather.
Layden was thwarted just five metres from the 'Rock try-line before this sustained pressure was eventually rewarded when Carty landed a 20th minute penalty from the right.
Four minutes later, Buccs punished a volleyed clearance which gave them possession in the centre and the ball was soon in the hands of Callum Boland who chipped ahead and won the race to lay off to the supporting Henshaw who got in for a try.
Out-half Carty converted excellently from the left touchline for a 10-0 advantage that was a fair reflection on the proceedings.
Buccs coughed up a penalty from the restart but David Godfrey was off target from a very kickable position. James Tormey, on the pitch for the injured Michael Kearney, then forced a 32nd minute penalty which Carty drilled over.
But the Dubliners were thrown a lifeline four minutes from the break. Two Buccs players allowed Jan-Simon Byrne get by them and the speedy full-back made the most of his opportunity for a try which Godfrey, cutting the gap to 13-7 for half-time.
Four minutes after the restart, Layden chased his own garryowen, nailing Byrne who held on to possession and Carty gratefully tapped over the resultant penalty.
The Athlone outfit regained possession on their own 22 to counter attack but the final pass by Buccs was not precise and a real try-scoring chance was missed. Almost immediately, Alex Hayman stormed forward but crossing was adjudged and another promising raid came to nothing.
The decisive phase followed as the game entered the final quarter. Buccaneerss were guilty of coming in from the side but Godfrey had a replica of his earlier penalty miss.
Moments later, Enda O'Brien snaffled possession and rampaged forward, Conor Finn made further in-roads into the home 22 before offloading to Luke Satchwell on the right. The young back rower showed fine composure and good strength to barrel through for a well-taken try in the right corner.
Carty added the extras with another superb touchline conversion. A 10-point surge and a healthy 23-7 advantage for Buccaneers with 17 minutes remaining.
Four minutes later, Satchwell was again involved to link up with David Heffernan and Finn who was stopped just short, while a forward pass to the overlapping Layden spoiled another exciting raid as Blackrock were again carved open.
Eoghan Grace was sin-binned four minutes from time for slowing possession and Blackrock finally came alive to capitalise on their numerical superiority. Michael Carroll marked his return by driving over for a 78th minute try which Godfrey converted to complete the scoring.
Referee: Stuart Gaffikin (IRFU)