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Malone Beat Buccs To Get Off The Mark

Malone Beat Buccs To Get Off The Mark

Aided by a powerful display from their forwards, Malone lie fourth in the Division 1B table after seeing off the challenge of Buccaneers on a 29-11 scoreline at Gibson Park.

With Ulster duo Alan O'Connor and Conor Joyce having a major influence on proceedings, the Belfast club got the better of a youthful Buccaneers team that included four league debutants and only five survivors from the corresponding fixture last season.

Injuries also took their toll on the Pirates whose captain Alex Hayman was forced off with an A/C injury in the first half, but efficient Malone were too strong on the day and took their scores well.

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Buccaneers should have taken an early lead when winger Rory O'Connor broke through but he was stopped by a try-saving tackle from Michael Barker.

Malone opened the scoring on the 15-minute mark. With seemingly nothing on in midfield, out-half Josh Bingham prodded a chip in behind the Buccs defence who hesitated and the ball sat up nicely for full-back Andy Bryans to go over unopposed for an unconverted try.

Buccs' returning out-half Alan Gaughan, whose day was also cut short by injury, missed a penalty before the visitors drew level with an unconverted try on 27 minutes, O'Connor showing impressive pace to beat two defenders and touch down in the corner.

Tony Dolan's men took the lead just four minutes later. Centre Hayman went on a powerful run and from the resulting ruck Joyce was caught offside. With the penalty advantage, scrum half Mark Dolan landed a drop goal for 8-5.

But Malone regained the lead in the 38th minute with Bryans crossing the whitewash for his second try. Alan O'Connor rumbled through midfield, the forwards worked the ball through a number of phases to create an overlap and Bryans had a simple finish after lively scrum half John Creighton switched the point of attack.

Pentland missed the conversion but landed a penalty with the final kick of the first half to extend Malone's lead at the break to 13-8. He followed up with a penalty seven minutes after the restart, punishing a Buccs side that had temporarily lost Connacht prospect Conor Finn to an injury.

A Gaughan penalty saw the visitors respond four minutes later, but Jacque Benade's Malone outfit went on to dominate the last half hour.

As the penalty count increased against Buccs and their injuries mounted up, Pentland added another penalty on 55 minutes for 19-11. Malone then wasted a good try-scoring opportunity when they kicked a penalty to touch but from the resulting lineout catch and drive they knocked on.

A fourth penalty from Pentland on 71 minutes virtually wrapped the game up for the Cregagh Red Sox as they went 11 points in front.

Buccs switched off in injury-time to allow winger Barker run in Malone's third try with the final play of the game. Creighton took a quick tap penalty and spun the ball wide for Barker to go over and Pentland tagged on a classy conversion from the right touchline.

Referee: Paul Haycock (IRFU)