Sligo won the clash of the table toppers when they defeated Our Lady’s boys club from Galway in a much anticipated Junior League division 1 encounter at the back pitch in the sportsground on Sunday.
OLBC had recruited strongly in the close season and were seen by many to be well equipped to launch a title challenge this season.
Sligo kicked off with the aid of the strong breeze but it was the local outfit who struck first when a penalty award for an infringement at the ruck was despatched by Greg Flaherty to give his side an early advantage.
Sligo reacted and made their way into the ‘club 22. Strong work by Wesley Maxwell at the scrum gave the ref no option but to award the penalty and outhalf Paddy Pearson stepped up and slotted the kick to equalise.
OLBC again came looking for points and earned a penalty in front of the Sligo posts which Flaherty again converted to put his team back in front.
The first try of the match was a superbly crafted individual effort. Following a sweeping left to right movement, the ball was brought into contact by the strong running Matele Fifita. A quick recycle was moved to Pearson who brilliantly changed the angle and wrong footed the defence before racing clear of the cover to dot down to the left of the posts. The outhalf converted to put the score at 10-6 in Sligo’s favour.
‘Club again came storming back and a well rehearsed moved from a 5 metre scrum saw full back Donnacha Carey crash over in the corner to give his side a one point lead into the break.
Sligo upped the tempo in the second half and were starting to edge the possession battle. Hard work was rewarded when pressure on the home defence resulted in a 5 yard scrum award for the north westerners.
A good drive by the pack allowed Paddy Conlon feed Frankie Feeney and the scrum half quickly released the backline. Fifita recieved in midfield and powerfully burst through the cover to touch down beside the posts. Pearson converted to move the scoreline to 11-17 in favour of the visitors.
Sligo coninued to press and began to move the ball wide where they had an obvious advantage, however over eagerness in this policy proved costly when a loose play was latched onto by OLBC and the ball was hacked down field. The retreating Sligo cover failed to deal with the situation and illegaly prevented the olbc attack,resulting in the concession of a penalty try. Flaherty added the extras to put his team back in to a one point lead.
Sligo regrouped ,went back on the attack, and camped themselves in the ‘club 22. Fifita’s poweful running was causing the home defence difficulty and following another trademark drive the ball was moved wide to Ted Mulvaney who broke two tackles before crossing the tryline for the final score of the game.
Sligo contiued to press to try to earn the bonus point try, but OLBC were not in the mood to give up and threw everything at the visitors defence. However , Sligo held firm and some great work by Simon Coulter and a fine kick from Aaron Spring ensured that the points were secured.
Next up Sligo face newly promoted Loughrea, on Sunday at Hamilton Park, Strandhill with a 3 o Clock kick off.
Sligo; Gavin Foley, Ted Mulvaney, Matele Fifita, Jordan Farrington, David Gerrity, Paddy Pearson, Frankie Feeney, Wesley Maxwell, Ross Mannion, Adrian Mc Hale, James Wilson, Jamie Bowes, Aaron Spring, Simon Coulter, Paddy Conlon. subs Martin Feeney, Gary Conneely, Cathal Culhane, Roger Burrows, Trevor Sweeney