Sundays Well RFC 20 – Sligo RFC 17
Sligo travelled south to take on Cork city natives Sundays Well in the opening match of the 2018/19 Ulster Bank League division 2B campaign, but had to settle for a losing bonus point, as the Leesiders ran out winners by 3 points in a closely fought contest at Independent Park on Saturday.
Playing on the recently installed 4G pitch with ideal conditions for open rugby the home team kicked off but it was Sligo who dominated the early exchanges. Sligo’s game plan of keeping width on the ball and moving the physical Sundays Well pack around the park gained reward with a well struck Niall Gray penalty after 8 minutes to open the scoring.
The Cork men responded from the restart and put pressure on Sligo’s exit plan and a blocked clearance kick was collected by the home team and the opening try was conceded by the visitors. The successful conversion put the score at 7-3 with 12 minutes gone.
Sligo knuckled down and worked their way back into the game. Strong carries from Kuba Wojtkowicz, Thomas Gormley and Rob Holian put Sligo in position in the ‘Well 22 and the ball was moved quickly left to right through the hands of Mark Butler, Ryan Feehily and Enda Gavin allowing Philip Carter the chance to squeeze in at the corner.
Niall gray superb touchline conversion gave Sligo a 3 point advantage with 25 minutes gone.
Sligo’s lead only lasted for 5 minutes as the ‘Well equalised on the half hour with a penalty from in front of the Sligo posts. Unfortunately for Sligo the influential Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill had to retire at this point with a hamstring injury.
Just before the break Sligo struck again with a superb score. With Sundays Well applying pressure in the visitors 22, Sligo opted to move the ball wide to the right. Calum Goddard received on the wing and rounded his man to bring play to the half way before linking with Feehily. Feehily carried into the home 22 before linking up with supporting scrum half Brendan Cunningham who raced in under the posts to recapture the lead for Sligo. Grays successful conversion was the final action of the first half.
Sundays well regained parity with 55 minutes gone with a try and conversion following a sustained period of pressure in the Sligo 22 before a penalty in the 65 minute moved the Leesiders ahead and proved to be the final score of an entertaining encounter.
While coaches Paddy Pearson and Jason East will be disappointed with the loss, the losing bonus point is a valuable gain and comfort will be taken with the fact their charges demonstrated that they are well capable of competing at this level.
Sligo Niall Gray, Calum Goddard, Ryan Feehily, Enda Gavin, Philip Carter, Mark Butler, Brendan Cunningham, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Shane O’Hehir, Tom Gormley, Ciaran Cassidy, Rob Holian, Shane Boyle, Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill, Jason Havea, reps: Craig Adams, Ross O’Boyle, Matt Davey, Ross Hickey, Sean Mullin, Christian Nielsen