Sligo RFC 62 Loughrea 5
Sligo’s quest for Connaught Junior League Division one glory continued in earnest when they put South Galway side Loughrea to the sword with a ten try demolition at Strandhill on Sunday.
The home team were on top in all facets of play despite starting without regulars Wesley Maxwell, Gavin Foley, Aaron Spring and Adrian McHale.
From the kick off Sligo attacked and quickly got points on the board when a Loughrea clearance kick was collected by Roger Burrows and moved to Mark Butler. Butler changed the angle and released Paddy Pearson who raced to the line and scored under the posts. The scrum half added the extras to put his side 7-0 ahead.
From the re-start Sligo collected and again found their way into Loughrea territory. A well rehearsed move saw half backs Butler and Pearson switch places allowing Pearson the space to race through the defence under the posts for his and his teams second score. He added a successful conversion to put his side 14 points ahead.
Sligo continued to press and their pressure was rewarded with a penalty close in. Ross Mannion carried before off loading to second row James Wilson who in turn linked with Cathal Culhane. The flanker drove for the line and opened a gap which Butler shot through to touch down for the home team’s third try. Pearson again added the extras.
The visitors where then stung into life and their pressure was rewarded with a series of penalties in the Sligo 22. Following sustained pressure they drove over the Sligo line and touched down for a five point score.
Sligo immediately responded and a fine kick by Mark Butler was inadequately dealt with by the Loughrea cover. Roger Burrows collected and feed Butler who in turn moved the ball to Mata Fifita and the strong running centre powered over in the corner.
From the re-start the ball was moved quickly to the powerful Fifita who ran straight and hard and with a trade mark hand off broke the cover and rounded the Loughrea full back to double his tally. Butler converted to put the score at 33-5.
Sligo’s high tempo game was now causing the visitors trouble in all areas. Jamie Bowes and Paddy Conlon’s ball carrying were creating difficulties for the Loughrea defence and just before half time a huge carry by Bowes allowed centre Jordon Farrington the space to run through the gap and touch down to add to his teams total. Butler added the conversion to put the half time score 40-5 in favour of the home team.
The second half began much as the first half ended with Sligo’s high tempo game troubling the visitors in every aspect of the game. A fine run by Farrington was halted short of the line by an illegal foot trip and the referee had no choice but to award a penalty try to Sligo which Butler converted with ease. Coach Simon Galvin made a number of substitutions which included Sligo County Gaelic footballer Sean Davey who entered the fray for his debut in a Sligo Rugby jersey.
Sligo’s eighth try was created from quick thinking from scrum half Frankie Feeney when he quickly tapped a penalty and released the back line. The ball was shifted to Clive Morris who made no mistake in touching down in the corner.
Sligo were still not finished, and a Loughrea clearance was kept in play by Davey who collected and counter attached and set up a quick ruck ball. The ball was spun out to the dangerous Fifita who burst through the cover and dotted down in the corner.
Sligo’s final score came from a great break by Butler and quick hands saw Farrington round the cover to touch down and bring his teams total to 62 points.
Sligo’s Junior League campaign continues next saturday when they take on Mayo rivals Westport RFC at Hamilton park Strandhill. The match kicks off at 2.30pm.
Sligo: David Gerrity, Roger Burrows, Jordan Farrington, Matele Fifita, Billy Leahy, Mark Butler, Paddy Pearson, Dara Cox, Ross Mannion, Martin Feeney, James Wilson, Trevor Sweeney, Jamie Bowes, Cathal Culhane, Paddy Conlon. Reps. Frankie Feeney for Paddy Pearson, Gary Coneelly for Ross Mannion, Clive Morris for Roger Burrows, Adrian McHale for Dara Cox, Sean Davey for David Gerrity.