Sligo 25 :: Creggs 17
Sligo scored a deserved victory over Creggs in the first round of the Cawley Cup played at Hamilton Park on Sunday last. In an all action game, which produced eight tries, Sligo recorded both their highest point scoring, and try scoring tally of the season, as they ran in five tries.
After several days of heavy rain this game was in doubt until Sunday morning, when the pitch was passed as playable after a 9 am inspection. As a result of recent inclement weather, underfoot conditions were very difficult, but to their credit, Sligo attempted to play expansive rugby throughout. This was in marked contrast to Creggs, who constantly reverted to their forward pack to make progress. Both sides were short some of their first team players but there was lots of endeavour and this led to a lively and entertaining game. Creggs have just been promoted from the second division, and they are certain to provide stiff opposition to all sides in next season’s J1 league.
Sligo had a whirlwind start,and scored two tries within three minutes, from Julian Rippon and Simon Coulter. Rippon who was in flying form scored a hat trick and was a real thorn in the side of the opposition. After the opening salvos, the game settled to a more realistic tempo but Sligo soon had another try, with again Rippon being the scorer, to give them a 15-0 lead. Approaching half time, Creggs became more dominant, and were rewarded with a well worked try after 39 minutes from a set move off a line-out close to the corner, to leave the score at 15-7 at the break.
The second half resumed with Sligo endeavouring to move the ball wide at every opportunity. Their enterprise and flair were rewarded as they scored the try of the game after fifty minutes. From a line-out on half way, the ball was quickly moved left, and following some deft passing and straight running, full-back, Nick Reynolds to hit the line at pace, and he hared over untouched for a spectacular try. The contrast in styles continued with Creggs getting two more tries from forward rumbles and Sligo getting one more from speedster Rippon to leave the final score at 25-17.
Considering the adverse conditions, the good sized attendance were treated to an exciting game, which yielded eight tries, and while all of Creggs’ three came from the ‘grunt and groan’ of their pack, Sligo’s five were a result of very enterprising back-line moves, and were much more spectacular. Sligo showed that they can put some good back moves together, while the pack can be pleased with their contribution. A cause for concern is the poor goal kicking record, as the match statistics of zero conversions from five attempts testifies.
Julian Rippon stood out as the best back on view, and he capped a memorable display with three well taken tries. Eighteen year old Nick Reynolds again showed his potential with a storming display at full-back. Unfortunately, he had to leave the action in the second half with a shoulder injury, which could keep him side-lined for a few weeks. The more mobile home pack produced a lot of quality ball for the backs, but on occasions they were well tested by Creggs mauling game. Up front for Sligo, Ronan Gillespie ,Peter Mullan, David Greene and Steven Woods stood out.
Sligo’s next opponents will be Castlebar in Hamilton Park on Sunday next, and they will pose a much more difficult proposition. The Mayo side will ask a lot more questions off the pack, and the home side will have to really step up a gear if they want to progress to the semi final. There will of course be an added incentive for Sligo in that they lost to the Mayo side in the league and they will be looking for revenge. Sligo will be without Thomas Darcel and Nick Reynolds for next week’s encounter but will be hoping that their captain and influential No 8, Jamie Livingstone, is fit to resume.
Sligo; Nick Reynolds, James Coulter, Julian Rippon, Kakaber Machitdtze, Ted Mulvany, Gavin Foley, Billy Leahy, Ronan Gillespie, Ross O’Boyle Adrian McHale, Peter Mullan( c. ), Simon Coulter, Cathal Culhane, Steven Woods, David Greene. Subs: Stuart O’Brien, Niall Canning, Dermot Kiely, Martin Feeney, Seamus Clancy.