Blackrock RFC 14
Sligo RFC 16
Round six of the Energia All Ireland league saw Sligo travel to the capitol to face Blackrock RFC and the Porter Ford sponsored North Westerners produced a grandstand finish to pocket the match points.
The win moves Sligo to fourth in the division 2b table, just 2 points behind second placed Wanderers FC.
Facing into the stiff breeze, Sligo kicked off and had to endure early pressure from the home side whose pack include Sligo natives Ciaran Cassidy and Matthew Cosgrove.
Sligo settled into the task and began to use their pacey backline to good effect to move the physically bigger Blackrock forwards around the pitch.
With 20 minutes gone Sligo opened the scoring. A Blackrock scrum on the halfway line was disrupted by the Sligo drive. The locals failed to deal with the scrappy possession and the ever alert Hubert Gilvary latched onto the ball and raced away. The Sligo scrum half still had work to do but with an excellent side step evaded the two covering defenders before racing in at the right corner. Outhalf Josh Reeves’ conversion effort came back off the left upright.
Sligo continued to play with intent and went further ahead on 24 minutes with a Reeves penalty dispatched from just outside the home 22.
Conditions worsened with heavy rain as the half wore on, making it difficult for Sligo to exit from their own 22.
Just before the interval ‘Rock were awarded a penalty 5 yards from the Sligo line. A scrum was called and when the home side got the nudge the scrum turned and the referee awarded a penalty try leaving one point between the sides at the interval.
On the resumption the rain had subsided, but unfortunately for Sligo the wind advantage went with it.
With an hour gone on the clock the home side took the lead with a try on the left hand side following a sustained period of pressure on the Sligo line. The successful conversion moved the score to 14-8.
Sligo regrouped and looked for the score to close the gap. The powerful ‘Rock scrum was difficult to handle but Eddie Coyle and Pedro Bengal put in a huge effort to secure Sligo ball. The Sligo lineout was functioning well with the two Matthews, Earley and O’Hara, combining well to secure possession.
With 7 minutes remaining Sligo struck with a brilliant counter attacking try. Reeves collected a ‘Rock clearance in the Sligo 22 and immediately shifted it on to winger Calum Goddard. Goddard sprinted to the 10 metre line before linking with Ryan Feehily. Feehily linked up with centre partner Enda Gavin on the half way and Gavin’s well timed pass allowed Full back Guilherme Coghetto the opportunity to race to the line. Incredibly this time Reeves’ conversion attempt came back of the right upright which left ‘Rock with a one point advantage going into the final moments.
Sligo weren’t done however and one final massive effort secured the winning score. Reeves collected a ‘Rock clearance in the Sligo 22 and again moved the ball wide to counter. The move was halted with a high tackle on Stefano Giantorno and the resulting penalty was despatched to touch on the halfway line. Earley threw to Ross Hickey at the lineout and Sligo set an excellent maul which drove all the way to within 15 metres of the try line before being hauled down illegally. With no time left on the clock Reeves opted for the kick.
The tension was unbearable as the ball left the outhalfs boot, but the posts were dissected and the Sligo faithful rejoiced.
Next for Sligo is the visit of Belfast Harlequins to Strandhill. Coached by former Ulster Scrum Half Neil Doak, ‘Quins will be a tough nut to crack but Sligo have proved a match for anyone in division 2b and another exciting encounter is expected. The match kicks off at 2.30 next Saturday.
Sligo: Guilherme Coghetto, Calum Goddard, Ryan Feehily, Enda Gavin, Philip Carter, Josh Reeves, Hubert Gilvary, Eddie Coyle, Matthew Earley, Pedro Bengalo, Craig Trimble, Matthew O’Hara, James O’Hehir, Donnacha Byrne, Ross Hickey. Reps Jake Sexton, Sean Wynne, Daire Byrne, Brendan Cunningham, Stefano Giantorno