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Conroy On The Double As Buccs Outlast UCC
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Conroy On The Double As Buccs Outlast UCC

Conroy On The Double As Buccs Outlast UCC

Connacht Academy prop Saba Meunargia made a try-scoring return from injury as Buccaneers ran out six-try 49-36 winners over UCC at Dubarry Park on Saturday.

Buccs' in-form winger Jordan Conroy and UCC flanker Conor Barry both bagged braces as the sides tallied up 11 tries in a veritable avalanche of scores. Conroy scored his try double inside the opening 14 minutes.

The Pirates, who have cut UL Bohemians' lead at the top to four points, build up promising leads twice during this 85-point scorefest, leading 25-3 after half an hour and 35-22 at the hour mark, but they had to work assiduously to the very end to shake off the spirited endeavours of students.

In perfect weather and playing conditions, Buccs hit the ground running and Audi Athlone man-of-the-match Conroy made an immediate impact with his two early scores. Conor McKeon converted the Tullamore man's second try after Kevin O'Keeffe had opened UCC's account with a penalty.

As College struggled to contend with the Athlone side's high tempo, prop Charlie Slowey was followed to the sin bin by Murray Linn, the centre's deliberate knock-on in front of his own posts also leaving referee Mark Patton with little option but to award a 29th minute penalty try converted by McKeon.

However, after a sparkling opening half hour, Buccaneers' pace and work-rate suddenly dropped. UCC got a foothold at last and tighthead Rob O'Donovan forced his way over for a try in the final move of the first half to give the visitors a lifeline.

O'Keeffe converted to reduce the midlanders' lead to 25-10 at the interval. UCC were a reinvigorated force following the change of ends and, after home prop Saba Meunargia was yellow-carded for obstruction, the students swiftly punished the hosts.

Blindside Barry stretched over the home line after 42 minutes and further good play by College yielded a Chris McAuliffe try just four minutes later. O'Keeffe converted this score to reduce the arrears to 25-22 before McKeon got the scoreboard moving again for the Pirates with a 54th minute penalty.

Buccs regained their momentum and Meunargia finished off some terrific interplay five minutes later for a bonus point try converted by McKeon. But the Corkonians refused to roll over and their pressure resulted in Buccs full-back Luke Carty visiting the sin-bin, swiftly followed by Barry's second try which also secured a bonus point for the visitors.

O’Keeffe's conversion left the game finely balanced at 35-29 after 65 minutes. Buccs responded to this prolonged challenge with a period of sustained and composed pressure before Stephen McVeigh strode through for a 70th minute try converted by out-half Alan Gaughan.

UCC continued to battle and Daire Feeney got through for his side's fifth try, three minutes from the end. O'Keeffe's conversion looked like earning them a second bonus point but the Pirates had the final say.

Former Connacht player Mata Fifita wrestled possession from the students and powered through for Buccaneers' sixth try. Gaughan's conversion completed both the action and the 49-36 scoreline after a real roller-coaster of a match.

Referee: Mark Patton (IRFU)

Lineups Scorers

Match Lineups

Home Team

Luke Carty; Eoghan O'Reilly, Shane Layden, Mata Fifita, Jordan Conroy; Alan Gaughan, Conor McKeon; Martin Staunton, John Sutton, Saba Meunargia, Ruairi Byrne, Daniel Qualter, Evan Galvin, Rory Moloney, Stephen McVeigh.

Replacements: Dylan Quinn, Rory Grenham, James Foley, Graham Lynch, Rory O'Connor.

Away Team

Chris McAuliffe; Kevin O'Keeffe, Kevin Slater (capt), Murray Linn, James Kiernan; Charlie O'Regan, Richard Walsh; Peter McCabe, Ben Burns, Rob O'Donovan, David Lynch, Richard Moran, Conor Barry, Graham Smith, Daire Feeney.

Replacements: Charlie Slowey, Emmet McCarthy, Lee McSherry, Tom Kiersey, Cillian Ansbro.

Match Scorers

Home Team

Tries: Jordan Conroy 2, Penalty try, Saba Meunargia, Stephen McVeigh, Mata Fifita; Cons: Conor McKeon 3, Alan Gaughan 2; Pens: Conor McKeon 3

Away Team

Tries: Rob O'Donovan, Conor Barry 2, Daire Feeney, Chris McAuliffe; Cons: Kevin O'Keeffe 4; Pen: Kevin O'Keeffe