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Corinthians Snap Back To Beat Buccaneers

Corinthians Snap Back To Beat Buccaneers

Corinthians produced a Halloween shocker for Buccaneers when the Galway side won Friday’s floodlit Ulster Bank League Division 1B match 14-10 at a well-attended Dubarry Park.

Corinthians may not have been spellbinding but they were far more committed and cohesive than a home outfit that did not possess the spark to ignite fireworks in the Pirates' ranks on a mild, misty evening.

Both teams made numerous changes. Corinthians, missing injured skipper James Buckley and prop Finlay Bealham, had six fresh personnel from their big home loss to Shannon.

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Buccaneers had no less than eight changes from the last-gasp home defeat by Galwegians. They welcomed back captain Alex Hayman and Conor Finn in the centre and included young Connacht trio Daniel Qualter, Stephen McVeigh and Rory Moloney at numbers 5, 6 and 7 respectively.

On paper, the midlanders looked the more formidable team but Corinthians, arguably in more urgent need of league points, refused to read the script in this Ganlys of Athlone-sponsored match.

Corinthians set the tempo from the very start, with the endeavour particularly of their pack pinning Buccs back for long periods of a stop-start affair. Dwayne Corcoran was short with a kickable fourth minute penalty as the hosts conceded four penalties in the early minutes.

Seven minutes later, Corinthians punted a very straight-forward penalty to touch on the left where their throw-in went awry. After 18 minutes, Ultan Dillane rumbled through the home midfield far too easily but, with Buccaneers really stretched, his Connacht Eagles colleague Eoghan Masterson held on too long and knocked on in the tackle as he attempted to offload to a two-man overlap.

It was virtually all one-way traffic as this stage with perhaps Corinthians beginning to wonder would they later rue not converting those decent scoring chances.

Buccs' first foray of any real intent did not arrive until 24 minutes with Mark Dolan making a nippy break and delivering a sublime offload to Diarmuid Higgins. This attack was only stopped by a Conor Murphy knock-on that referee Barrie O'Connell deemed worthy of a harsh yellow card. Alan Gaughan did not allow for the breeze coming around the end of the stand and his resulting penalty kick just tailed wide of the far upright.

Corinthians had another let-off five minutes later when Eoghan O'Reilly made a sizzling break to link up with Finn and a try looked the likely outcome. This time the referee drew the ire of the home supporters when whistling up for crossing that was not apparent to the crowd.

The westerners survived their first yellow card intact but not the second when Mark Byrne was sin-binned just before the break. Gaughan tapped over the place-kick to put Buccs 3-0 ahead despite playing poorly.

The Pirates were livelier on the resumption and winger O'Reilly made another smashing snipe but, overall, they continued to make too many errors.

Corinthians were finally rewarded for their enterprise when, after a fine David Panter break, they got close to the home line where number 8 Masterson drove over for a 49th minute try which Conor Murphy converted.

Further sustained endeavour by Corinthians quickly yielded a second try five minutes later with hooker Pat O'Toole getting over on the right. Conor Murphy curled his conversion in for a 14-3 advantage for the visitors.

Buccs could have scored a try within a minute when a Corinthians lineout missed its target but the ball squirmed forward from Higgins' grasp. On the hour mark, that elusive home try looked likely when the Pirates piled on sustained close-in pressure on the left. With the resolute defence sucked in, the ball was flashed to the right but the final pass to O'Reilly was woeful and a gilt-edged chance was missed.

It was now the home side's turn to enjoy territory and they finally found a chink in the Corinthians rearguard. Martin Staunton was introduced and immediately turned over possession on the left for Buccs and within a minute the prop was finishing off this attack on the opposite flank for a 66th minute try.

Gaughan added a good conversion to reduce the arrears to 14-10 and while Buccs were finally forcing the pace, they had a let-off themselves after 73 minutes when Dolan somehow scampered back, despite clearly being hampered by a leg injury, to win possession of a defence-splitting kick ahead.

Buccs tried their utmost to unlock the Corinthians cover in a frantic finish but found a magnificent Tribesmen defence nigh impenetrable and thus had to settle for another losing bonus point.

Meanwhile, this merited victory will boost Corinthians for next weekend's showdown with their city rivals Galwegians, who are smarting from a home defeat to new Division 1B leaders Ballymena.

Referee: Barrie O'Connell (IRFU)