Sligo RFC 25
Wanderers FC 17
Sligo opened their 2021/22 All Ireland league campaign in style with a finely crafted win over a physical visiting Wanderers side at Hamilton Park on Saturday. Three well taken trys and 10 points from the boot of Euan Brown overcame the challenge from the Landsdowne Road based visitors.
Despite the overnight downpours, Hamilton Park was in excellent condition when the teams took to the field.
Sligo kicked off playing towards the airport end but it was the visitors that made the most of the early exchanges bringing their powerful running forwards into play at every opportunity. The early work from the visitors paid off with seven minutes gone when prop forward Shane Moynihan burst through the Sligo cover to touch down to the right of the posts. Outhalf Rob Mullan added the extras.
Sligo were stung into life and began to use their own patterns, moving the ball wide to the pacey back three of Philip Carter, Stefan Giantorno and Guillerme Coghetto to attack the Wanderers defence. Sligos pressure finally bore fruit when Brown opened their account with a penalty from the 22 with 20 minutes gone.
Sligo pushed on and took the lead with 25 minutes gone. From a scrum on the right, inside the Wanderers 22, scrum half Brendan Cunningham fed Josh Reeves. The player coach stepped inside the cover and brought the attack close to the line before an excellent offload put centre partner Enda Gavin in at the left of the posts to put the score at 8-7 in favour of the hosts.
5 minutes before the interval Sligo moved further ahead. A Wanderers move from right to left on the Sligo 10 metre line was read and excellently intercepted by Coghetto and the full back raced to the posts for Sligo’s second try. Brown converted to put 8 between the sides going into the break.
Following the resumption, a Wanderers lineout maul resulted in a try out wide for the visitors to move the score to 15-12.
Sligo again responded and put sustained pressure on the hosts, but a rare Wanderers foray into the Sligo half resulted in a Cathal Martin try in the corner and the slimmest of leads for the visitors with 15 minutes remaining.
Sligo shrugged off the setback and again set up camp in the visitors half. The hard work was almost rewarded when Hooker Matthew Early latched onto a Reeves pass on the 22 and raced towards the line before being driven into touch at the corner flag.
Sligo continued to press and a superb right hand touchline penalty from Brown regained the lead and set up a grandstand finish.
Intelligent kicking again put Sligo in control of the territorial battle and when the visitors tried to run from defence powerful prop Pedro Bengalo stripped the ball and set up a Sligo attack. Substitute Scrum half Hubert Gilvary fed Eoin Ryan on the blindside and a quick recycle allowed Reeves release Brown on the inside. The outhalf raced towards the line before offloading to Carter who picked the ball from his knees and dived over in the corner. Browns successful conversion sealed the deal for Sligo.
After this great start to the league campaign Sligo will be looking to continue in the same vein when they travel north to lock horns with Dungannon RFC next Saturday.
The match kicks off at Stevenson Park at 2.30.
Sligo: Guilherme Coghetto, Stefano Giantorno, Enda Gavin, Josh Reeves, Phillip Carter, Euan Brown, Brendan Cunningham (co-captain) , Eddie Coyle, Matthew Earley, Pedro Bengalo, Matthew O’Hara, Rob Holian, James O’Hehir, Daire Byrne, Ross Hickey. Reps Craig Trimble, Eoin Ryan, Michael Broaders, Hubert Gilvary, Calum Goddard
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