AIL 2B: Sligo turn over the stones

Sligo RFC 17 – Greystones RFC 3 

Sligo’s push for a playoff spot in AIL division 2B continued with an excellently crafted victory over second placed Greystones at Hamilton Park on Saturday. Having shipped a heavy defeat in the reverse match earlier in the season, Sligo were determined to make amends and an all action performance proved too much for the visitors to handle as the home team ran in three try’s while keeping their own line intact.

Sligo's Sean Wynne charges forward with the ball
Sligo’s Sean Wynne charges forward with the ball

Despite the early in the day torrential rain, Hamilton Park was in good condition when the teams took to the field. The strong gusting winds made handling difficult but both sides adapted and tried to put width on the ball from the off. The visitors owned the early possession but Sligo’s defence stood strong and strong tackling from Sean Wynne and Man of the Match Kuba Wojtkowicz eventually led to Sligo winning possession. With almost their first opportunity Sligo ran a sweeping right to left move. Right winger Calum Goddard popped up in centre field and added pace to the move before releasing his comrade on the left Phillip Carter. Carter pinned his ears back and beat the covering defence to touch down on the left to open the Sligo account. 

Greystones were stung into action and worked their way back into Sligo territory, the Sligo tackling was strong and despite the best efforts of the visitors, the line remained intact and Greystones had to be content with a three pointer from a penalty in front of the Sligo posts. 

The match ebbed and flowed until half time with Sligo taking the break holding on to a two point lead. 

AIL- Mataele Fifita powers through with support from Enda Gavin
AIL- Mataele Fifita powers through with support from Enda Gavin

Following the resumption Sligo turned into the stiff breeze knowing that holding possession was vital to the outcome of the match. Shane O’Hehir was linking superbly with Rob Holian and Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill at the lineout and Tom Gormely and Conor Mitchell were causing havoc at the set scrum. Ciaran Cassidy was carrying with intent and Matt Davey was a dynamo In the loose. Player coach Jason East was using all his experience to lead by example with some excellent carries and vital tackles.

Ten minutes in Sligo pulled further ahead. O’Hehir found O’Dowd Hill at a lineout on the ‘Stones 22. The flanker drove through the lineout before East carried further into the red zone. Scrum Half Ryan Feehily picked out centre Jack Keegan whose excellent line carved open the defence and raced to the line to pick up Sligo’s second try. The centre popped over the conversion and Sligo were nine points clear.

Sligo sensed a victory and pushed hard to ram the advantage home. The cultured boots of outhalf Mark Butler and fullback Niall Gray put play in the ‘stones half. Powerhouse centre Matele Fifita collected on the visitors 22 and drove down the left hand side swatting defenders out of his way before being hauled down close to the line. Sligo regrouped and patiently carried to the line before O’Dowd Hill forced the ball over for Sligo’s third try of the day.

The visitors again tried to respond but the locals well organised defence proved impenetrable and when referee Rob Watson blew the long whistle Sligo were celebrating having kept their line intact for two weeks in a row. 

Sligo now sit in fourth place in Division 2B of the All Ireland League. Come the end of the season, the second,third and fourth placed teams in the 2B along with the second last placed team in division 2A will play off for a spot in division 2A so with 4 games to go Sligo’s destiny is in their own hands and a promotion is within reach. 

Next week Sligo travel east to IRFU headquarters to battle Wanderers at the back pitch in the Aviva Stadium. Sligo will be looking to continue their recent form which has seen victory in 6 of the last 8 outings. The match kicks off at 2.30. 

Sligo:  Niall Gray, Calum Goddard, Jack Keegan, Matele Fifita, Philip Carter, Mark Butler, Ryan Feehily (Co-Capt) , Kuba Wojtkowicz, Shane O’ Hehir ( Co-Capt) Jason East, Rob Holian, Ciaran Cassidy, Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill, Sean Wynne, Matt Davey. Reps Conor Mitchell, Tom Gormely, Jake Sexton, Enda Gavin, Brendan Cunningham.

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