Tuam 17 :: Sligo 33
Despite some uncertain first half moments, and being subjected to some brief pressure midway through the second half, Sligo held too many aces for a fit and determined Tuam side in the opening round of the special Connacht ‘warm-up’ league at Tuam on Sunday last.
The game was played in dry, but very blustery conditions on a perfectly manicured pitch. Tuam were favoured by the elements in the opening half, and wasted no time in making this advantage pay dividends. They led by 7-0 after just two minutes when two basic errors had Sligo in trouble. Full-back, Roger Burrows safely ‘marked a garryowen, but comitted the cardinal error of failing to find touch with the free kick. When Tuam launched an ‘up and under’ from the missed touch, No. 8, Jamie Livingstone completely misjudged the flight of the ball and the persuing winger touched down for the simplest of tries.
However, team captain, Livingstone made amends in the 12th minute when following a fine attacking maul by Sligo, he picked up and crashed over for a try. Former Georgian World Cup out-half, Kakaber Machitidze put the visitors into the lead for the first time [8-7], when he expertly landed a 38 metre penalty into the strong wind in the 14th minute.
Tuam were back in front when some shoddy Sligo tackling allowed the outside centre a clear run to the line, and the try was converted. Out-half, Machitidze injured his knee at this juncture and played no further part in the action.
A fine try by Andrew Williams following a superb 50 metre break by winger, Julian Rippon, reduced the deficit, but a penalty put the home side 17-13 ahead at the interval. Sligo camped inside the Tuam ’22’ from the restart, but failed to add to their tally. They regained the lead in the 12th minute, when substitute wing forward, Simon Coulter charged down a clearance and touched down.
They soon increased this lead when Gavin Foley slotted over a 35 metre penalty, but then Sligo were forced to defend as Tuam went on the offensive. They lifted the siege and Jamie Livingstone crossed for another try, which Foley converted to put Sligo 26-17 ahead. Sligo were now in complete control and following some slick handling by the backs, Andrew Feeney scored under the posts, with Gavin Foley again adding the points.
Overall, a satisfactory opening game for Sligo, and while there was understandably some ring rustiness, management can look to the future with guarded optimism. There will certainly be more testing challenges to come.
Sligo: Roger Burrows, Julian Rippon, Cathal Culhane, Gavin Foley, Andrew Feeney, Kakaber Machitidze, Billy Leahy, Adrian McHale, Gary Conneally, Martin Feeney, Peter Mullan, Andrew Williams, Trevor Sweeney, Jamie Livingstone [c.], Joe Sweeney. Subs: Michael McGowan, Simon Coulter, Stuart O’Brien, David Kilcoyne, Lloyd Wilkinson, Ross Mannion.