Sligo RFC 24
Wanderers FC 16
Sligo’s rich run of form continued apace when they overcame their illustrious guests, Wanderers FC, in an intense Ulster Bank League encounter at Strandhill on Saturday. Sligo went into the game in the knowledge that a win would propel them from third place to second in the league as the top two clubs, Highfield and Armagh, were playing each other on Saturday.
Despite the early morning heavy rain Hamilton Park was in perfect condition and the locals began the game at a ferocious pace. From the Wanderers kick off and Sligo immediately looked to put width on the ball. A searing Mark Rooney break positioned Sligo inside the visitors 22 and quick transfer from left to right saw the ball moved to Aaron Spring and the powerful centre burst his way through to touch down under the posts. Conor Kerins slotted the conversion to complete the perfect start.
Wanderers responded and began to attack Sligo with their expansive game but big tackling notably from Richard Child’s , Matt Davey and Brooke Treymane ensured that the threat was negated.
With half an hour gone Sligo doubled their advantage. A fine Conor Kerins kick and well worked chase put Sligo in the Wanderers 22. The turnover was forced and Sligo were awarded a scrum 10 metres out. The Sligo front row of Ross Mannion, Tadgh Power and Conor Mitchell got the better of the Wanderers trio and the Sligo scrum marched towards the line. The pushover try was inevitable but Wanderers encroached to prevent the Sligo touchdown and the the Referee went under the posts to award a penalty try. Kerins again added the extras.
Wanderers again responded, and were rewarded with a penalty on the stroke of half time to put the score at 14-3 at the interval. Unfortunately for Sligo the penalty punishment was compounded with the sin binning of the influential David Heath for persistent team infringements at the breakdown.
Following the resumption the Dublin outfit raised the tempo in order to make full use of the numerical advantage. Their industry was rewarded 5 minutes into the half with a sniping score from scrum half Michael Mc Loughlin following a period of pressure in the Sligo 22.
The Wanderers resurgence continued and penalties on 55 and 60 minutes put the Landsdowne Road based outfit ahead for the first time in the game.
The match defining moment came with 15 minutes left on the clock.
Wanderers were awarded a penalty in front of the Sligo posts 8 metres from the line. The opportunity to kick was turned down and the scrum option was taken. Wanderers went for the pushover but the scrum went down and had to be reset. Sligo Coach Gavin Foley sent the previously temporarily replaced Conor Mitchell back into the fray and the result was immediate. The Sligo scrum disrupted the Wanderers eight and the ball was turned over allowing Sligo to clear downfield. Sligo continued to press and a Kerins penalty restored the home team advantage.
With 10 minutes remaining Sligo moved into an unassailable 8 point lead. A relieving Sligo kick was countered by the Wanderers back three. Sligo’s kick chase put pressure on the counter attack and the ball was knocked forward on the halfway line. Matthew Cosgrove was quickest to react and the flanker scooped up the ball, burst away from the would be tacklers and showed great pace to finish under the posts. Kerins capped a fine performance with another two pointer.
In the closing moments Wanderers threw everything at Sligo to try and earn at least the losing bonus point but Sligo have prided themselves on their defence and a last gasp drop goal attempt was charged down to send the visitors home with no reward for their endeavours.
With 4 wins from 5 matches Sligo now sit in the very healthy position of second in the table but despite the great start to the season Coach Foley is keeping the team firmly grounded and is only concentrating on one game at a time. Sligo’s next challenge is an away trip to RIchmond RFC in Limerick next Saturday the 15th of November . There is a supporters bus for anyone wishing to travel to cheer on the team. For details contact Michael at 0868198540 or John at 0876212414.
Conor Kerins, Colin Keane, Richard Child’s, Aaron Spring, Mark Rooney, Brooke Treymane, Enda Gavin, Ross Mannion, Tadgh Power, Conor Mitchell, James Wilson, David Heath, Matthew Cosgrove, Matthew Davey, Eddie Connell. Reps Gary Conneely, Philip Allen, David Bergin, Andrew Williams, Niall O’Hara.