Sligo RFC 45
Belfast Harlequins RFC 14
Sligo jump started their Energia All Ireland League division 2B campaign with a six try demolition of Belfast Harlequins at Strandhill on Saturday. Sligos teamwork and tempo proved to be too much for their visitors on a perfect day for rugby at Hamilton Park.
Having fallen to Galwegians in the opening round of the AIL, Sligo were determined to get their season back on track and produce a performance reflective of the undoubted potential of the squad.
‘Quinns kicked off playing towards Knocknarea but it was Sligo who took the early initiative. The work put in by Sligos coaching team of Paddy Pearson and Jason East regarding retention of possession payed dividends early on as their charges owned the ball in the early exchanges.
With ten minutes on the clock Sligo reaped the reward of the early dominance. A period of pressure on the ‘Quinns line concluded with Rob Holian driving over for the opening score. Euan Brown added the extras and the Yeats men were up and running.
The locals were now in full flow and doubled their tally 20 minutes in. A left to right move in the ‘Quinns 22 resulted in hooker Shane O’Hehir racing in at the right corner. Brown converted with an excellently struck kick.
Halfway to the bonus point for Sligo, halftime arrived, but it was the visitors who struck next. A well work converted try halved the lead but Sligo were in determined form and immediately hit back with an excellent score from Matt Davey. Brown slotted the conversion and the gap moved back out to 14.
On 55 minutes the visitors again struck with a converted try but to their credit Sligo again immediately hit back with a powerful effort from Ross Hickey. Brown chipped over the conversion and the 14 point gap was restored.
Sligo were now in control and a Brown penalty from the 10 metre line further increased the advantage before a pinpoint kick pass from Ryan Feehily was plucked from the air by the excellent Philip Carter and the wingers’ well timed pass
allowed his fellow winger Calum Goddard a chance to run in under the posts. Once again Brown was accurate from the tee to move the score to 38-14.
Sligo were rampant and were putting their guests under serious pressure. Mark Keegan and Ross O’Boyle were in control at the scrum with East providing excellent support. Ciaran Cassidy and Craig Trimble added power and Mata Fifita and Brian West were outstanding in the loose. Mark Butler was controlling the tempo of the game and Enda Gavin marshalled the midfield with calm assurance. Brendan Cunningham and Matt Early made telling contributions from the bench.
With 5 minutes remaining Sligo put the final nail in the ‘Quins coffin. Jack Keegan capped an excellent performance with a intuitive read of a long midfield pass to intercept and race to the posts for a well deserved try. Brown completed a great day with the boot by making it 7 from 7.
Next for Sligo is a trip to Dublin on Saturday to lock horns with Wanderers RFC. With Ireland scheduled to play New Zealand in the rugby World Cup on the same day the kick off time has yet to be finalised. Up to date information will be available on the Sligo RFC website and Facebook page.
Sligo: Euan Brown, Calum Goddard, Jack Keegan, Enda Gavin, Philip Carter, Mark Butler, Ryan Feehily, Ross O’Boyle, Shane O’Hehir, Mark Keegan, Ciaran Cassidy, Rob Holian, Mata Fifita, Brian West, Ross Hickey. Reps Jason East, Matthew Earley, Matthew Davey, Craig Trimble, Brendan Cunningham.