Sligo RFC 43
Buccaneers RFC 10
Senior, competitive, rugby for Sligo RFC resumed for the first time since since October 2020 with the visit of Buccaneers RFC to Hamilton Park for the first round of the 2021/22 Connacht Senior League.
With such a long layoff and many changes in personnel, the Sligo faithful were unsure of what to expect but the home team dispelled any notion of ‘ring-rust’ with an all action display, running in 6 trys for a well deserved bonus point victory.
With the pitch in immaculate condition and a slight drizzle of rain, Sligo received the kick off playing towards the airport end.
As expected, the visitors brought a physical challenge and tested the Sligo defence in the opening exchanges but the home defence stood strong with James O’Hehir and Sean Wynne making telling tackles early on.
The early ‘Buccs’ pressure yielded a three pointer from Michael Hanley and Sligo immediately looked to respond. An excellent Phillip Carter break, down the left touchline, almost resulted in the opening score for Sligo but the support runner was forced into touch.
Minutes later Sligo manufactured another chance through a superbly crafted driving maul which pushed the visitors from their 22 to close to the line, however, the referee decided that an obstruction had occurred and Buccs were allowed to clear.
Sligo continued to press and were finally rewarded with the opening try.
Rob Holian claimed an off the top lineout on the Buccs 22. Scrum Half Brendan Cunningham immediately fed Euan Brown before Enda Gavin crashed up the middle. A quick recycle saw the play switched back from left to right and Guillerme Coghetto and Stefano Giantorno both made telling contributions before hooker Matthew Early crashed over in the corner.
Browns conversion attempt drifted across the face of the posts.
Sligo were up and running and hungry for scores. Ross Hickey quickly picked from a scrum on the left hand side and fed Cunningham. The ball was moved quickly in field for Gavin to release Jack Keegan. Keegans excellent line split the defence and the centre burst into the 22 before linking with Coghetto. Carter joined having made his way over from the far wing and forced his way over in the corner.
Brown struck a sweet conversion to put Sligo into a 12-3 lead at the interval.
Following the resumption Sligo continued to pressurise the visitors. Pedro Bengalo and Eddie Coyle had the edge at scrum time and Craig Trimble was making his power felt in the physical exchanges. The Sligo backline were attacking with intent with the pace of the back three troubling the visiting defence.
Brown increased Sligo’s lead with a penalty from in front of the posts with 55 minutes on the clock before Keegan added Sligo’s third try with an excellent run from the 10 metre line after collecting a clever chip through from Brown. The outhalf added the extras with another well struck conversion.
Buccs responded immediately when a moment of complacency in the Sligo backline was sized on and replacement centre Liam Doyle touched down on the left of the posts. Hanley converted to put the score to 22-10
The bonus point score was secured with 15 minutes remaining. A Brown kick pass was collected by Carter who linked up with Gavin. Gavin fed Coghetto who was hauled down 5 metres from the line. Trimble drove forward from the quick recycle and Early popped up on the blindside to dot down for his second of the day. Brown again added the extras.
Sligo were now in full flow and added try number 5 on 70 minutes. A planned backline move unlocked the defence and Brown raced into the 22 before releasing Coghetto to pick up his first score of the day. Brown again added the extras.
Coghetto repeated the dose right at the death with another well taken score having again linked well with Carter and Brown popped over the last kick to cap a fine days work.
Coaches Josh Reeves and Simon Galvan will be happy with the application shown by the squad, the substitutes Matthew O’Hara, Daire Byrne,Tadgh Power, Jake Sexton and Stuart O’Brien slotted seamlessly into the fold with Byrne in particular catching the eye with some powerful carries and trademark tackles.
Next for Sligo is a trip to Galway to face Galwegians. The match kicks off at 2.30 next Saturday (21st) at 2.30 pm
Sligo Matthew O’Hara, Stefano Giantorno, Jack Keegan, Enda Gavin, Phillip Carter, Euan Brown, Brendan Cunningham (Capt), Eddie Coyle, Matthew Earley, Pedro Bengalo, Craig Trimble, Rob Holian, James O’Hehir, Sean Wynne, Ross Hickey. Reps
Tadgh Power, Daire Byrne, Matthew O’Hara, Jake Sexton, Stuart O’Brien.