Sligo RFC 17 Galway Corinthians 18
Sligo suffered a first loss in five outings when they went down by the smallest margins against a physical Corinthians outfit at Strandhill on Saturday.
Having moved ahead with only seconds left Sligo were devastated when a late Corinthian penalty saw the visitors sneak past to take the victory.
Despite the recent heavy rain the pitch was in fine fettle when the two sides took to the field to lock horns.
The locals kicked off playing into the breeze towards the mountain end and a fine chase and contest in the air from Philip Carter immediately put pressure on the tribesmen.
Sligo were in determined form and early carries from Kuba Wojtkowicz and Rob Holian positioned Sligo into the Corinthians 22.
Corinthians repelled the early pressure but when Sligo were awarded a 5 metre penalty under the posts, the forwards sensed an opportunity and a scrum was called.
Conor Mitchell, Shane O’Hehir and Tom Gormaley put on the squeeze and the Sligo 8 inched towards the line.
Despite the Sligo dominance the referee was calling for the ball to be used so Ryan Feehily picked and darted in to touch down behind the left post.
Jack Keegan popped over the straightforward conversion and Sligo were up by 7.
The game ebbed and flowed with Sligo trying to work their way back into the Corinthians danger zone and the visitors feeding their big ball carrying forwards at every opportunity.
With a half an hour played the tribesmen opened their own account. A loose Sligo clearance kick was fielded by right winger Caomhen Brennan. The speedster used his pace to cut back to the left hand side and link up with outhalf Simon Keller. Kellers pass released left winger Micheal O’Reilly who finished off in the left corner. The conversion was missed but Sligo’s 2 point lead was short lived when just before the break, Corinthians crashed over for their second of the day following a sustained period of pressure by their giant pack. The successful conversion put the half time score to 7-12
Following the resumption the visitors lead was further extended with a penalty before the Sligo scrum earned a penalty try to move within a point with 10 minutes on the clock. Sligo gamely went on the hunt for what would surely be the match winning score. Mata Fifita was making inroads in midfield ably supported by Matt Davey from the back row and Ciaran Cassidy was using his power to move Sligo forward at every opportunity. With 8 minutes left on the clock , substitute Euan Brown made an excellent half break to bring play to the Corinthians 22. The visitors conceded a penalty and Keegan bisected the posts to put Sligo two points clear with little or no time left.
The visitors restarted and Sligo collected the kick and looked to drive their way out of the danger zone but to the dismay of the locals the ref raised his arm towards the visitors. The ball was dispatched over the Sligo crossbar and the hearts of the Sligo faithful were broken.
Sligo now take a break from league action until Feb 16 when Skerries come to visit. Sligo sit 6th in the AIL Div 2B table but are only 1 point from a coveted top 4 position.
Sligo; Jack Keegan, Calum Goddard, Enda Gavin, Mata Fifita, Philip Carter, Mark Butler, Ryan Fehily (c), Jason East, Shane O’Hehir (c), Conor Mitchell, Ciaran Cassidy, Rob Holian, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Christan Nielsen, Matt Davey. Reps Tom Gormaley, Mark Keegan, Jake Sexton, Niall Gray, Euan Brown