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Division 1B Leaders Buccs Take Derby Spoils
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Division 1B Leaders Buccs Take Derby Spoils

Division 1B Leaders Buccs Take Derby Spoils

Buccaneers moved five points clear at the top of Ulster Bank League Division 1B following their 24-12 victory over Galwegians in front of a decent attendance on a raw night at Dubarry Park on Friday.

Brett Wilkinson's Buccaneers were full value for their win in this Hodson Bay Hotel Group-sponsored match which, on the evidence of the first half, should have been a lot more comfortable for the hosts, but derby contests can be notoriously tricky to predict and to prevail in.

Neither side had any Connacht full-timers released to them so there was much change in both starting line-ups. In the showery conditions with a resultant soft surface, the exchanges were a lot hotter than the weather.

Buccs' relentless endeavours forged a firm grip on the proceedings in the opening period, penning Brian McClearn's Blues deep in their own half. It took the Pirates 15 minutes before their first real chance evolved when Alan Gaughan was stopped close to the 'Wegians line where the home side forced a five-metre scrum.

From the subsequent set piece, scrum half Conor McKeon sold a dummy and darted through for a smartly-taken try which Gaughan converted. Seven minutes later, Luke Carty found an excellent touch on the right and 'Wegians just could not clear their lines before powerful centre Mata Fifita thundered through for Buccs' second try.

Gaughan duly converted and, following further intense pressure by the midlanders, the out-half drilled over a 33rd minute penalty to put Buccaneers 17-0 to the good, a scoreline that reflected their dominance.

A number of other good opportunities by the Athlone men lacked precision and patience before 'Wegians stunned the hosts with a try of their own. Replacement prop Doron McHugh made an immediate impact as he finished off the Tribemen's first serious attack of the contest for a 34th minute score at the posts. Aidan Moynihan's conversion left the scoreboard reading 17-7 at half-time.

Five minutes after the change of ends, Buccs blundered with a rash and ill-judged quick restart, gifting possession to the visitors who promptly put their best move of the match together and deft handling – left to right – sent lock Anthony Ryan, aided by his own dummy, over for an unconverted try near the corner.

Galwegians, who had struggled from the start – reflecting their league form, were now resurgent and just five points adrift. From here to the final whistle, it was a much more evenly contested affair.

However, Buccaneers regrouped to enjoy another spell of promising pressure that was eventually rewarded when winger Eoghan O'Reilly finished off a further wave of Pirates attacks for a 57th minute try wide on the right.

Gaughan converted to complete the scoring as, try as both sides earnestly did to the very end, neither team could secure a coveted bonus point. Overall, Buccs had the greater class with hooker John Sutton collecting the Audi Athlone man-of-the-match accolade after their 'double scores' triumph.

Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)

Lineups Scorers

Match Lineups

Home Team

Luke Carty; Eoghan O'Reilly, Shane Layden, Mata Fifita, Jordan Conroy; Alan Gaughan, Conor McKeon; Rory Grenham, John Sutton, Martin Staunton, Cian Romaine, Ruairi Byrne, Simon Meagher, Evan Galvin, Kolo Kiripati (capt).

Replacement used: Graham Lynch for McKeon (78 mins). Not used: Eoghan Maher, Ryan O'Meara, James Foley, Alex Hayman.


Away Team

Alan McMahon; Matt Quinn, Cormac Brennan, Brian Murphy (capt), Ed O'Keeffe; Aidan Moynihan, Barry Lee; Jason East, John Moloney, Martin Fox, Anthony Ryan, Marc Kelly, Ronan Moore, Paul Hackett, Josh Pim.

Replacements used: Doron McHugh for Fox (34 mins), Matthew Towey for Hackett, Conor Lowndes for Lee (both 58), Jack Dinneen for McHugh, Lee for Quinn (both 64), McHugh for East (76). Not used: Peadar O'Beirn.

Match Scorers

Home Team

Tries: Conor McKeon, Mata Fifita, Eoghan O'Reilly; Cons: Alan Gaughan 3; Pen: Alan Gaughan

Away Team

Tries: Doron McHugh, Anthony Ryan; Con: Aidan Moynihan