Sligo kicked off from right to left towards the airport end and into the glorious sunshine on a lovely dry afternoon in Hamilton Park. There was a large crowd in attendance and all were hoping for another victory to continue their recent winning momentum.
Bruff applied some early pressure on the Sligo rearguard and were soon awarded a penalty after two minutes. However this was to no avail as out-half Tony Cahill failed to convert the pressure into points. This miss sprung the home side into life. Following a dominant scrum deep in the opposition 22 Sligo were given the chance to take the lead with a penalty on the 22 metre line. Sligo sharpshooter Jack Keegan split the posts with his kick and as result Sligo went 3-0 ahead after 8 minutes.
Minutes later, Sligo again applied the pressure on the visitors as winger Calum Goddard made a lovely break and then quickly recycled the ball to scrum-half Feehily, who then found the influential Shane O’Hehir who combined well with second row Ciaran Cassidy and then moved it out through to backline. However their efforts were thwarted with Feehily knocking on with the try line at his mercy.
Sligo eventually made their dominance count as inspirational Captain Shane Boyle found a gap and then neatly offloaded to the youthful Kuba Wotkowitz and he then timed his pass to release the fleet footed winger Calum Goddard who touched down in the corner. Keegan failed to add the extras with Sligo now 8 ahead. Sligo took a scrum against the head and Kerins opted to kick towards the corner to put pressure on the Bruff lineout. This proved to be a wise decision as the inspirational flanker O’Dowd Hill stole the opposition lineout but unfortunately his endeavours led to nothing as Sligo were held up at the line. From the resulting scrum, number 8 Boyle again gave his side some go forward ball, then he fed out-half Wells who in turn found housemate Kerins all on his own to jump in for his own 5 pointer. Keegan failed to land a difficult conversion as Sligo were now ahead 13-0.
This score brought Bruff into life as they applied a lot of pressure on the Sligo defence. However Sligo held firm with exceptional turnovers from both flanker Simon Coulter and Ryan Feehily. Then Sligo broke from one end to the other as they worked their way towards the oppositions half and mauled their way towards the line from a well constructed lineout. Keegan added the extras to put Sligo in command before the break. The half time score stood at 20-0.
Sligo started the second half as they ended the first on the attack, as on 43 minutes they put together a lovely kick ahead from Calum Goddard found its way into the grateful hands of Mark Rooney who kept it alive as he was tackled 5 metres short of the line. Sligo quickly recycled and Shane O’Hehir was unfortunate to knock it on with the line at his mercy.
The game then ebbed and flowed in a ten minute spell which was littered with errors until the visitors put together a series of phases and spread the ball out through the hands to their winger who went in untouched for the first score of the second half. Cahill failed to the add the extras as the score was now 20-5.
Sligo roared back into the game as they put together some nice moves which were unfortunately to no avail as they went in search of the elusive bonus point. It wasn’t until the final few minutes of the game until they capitalised on the Bruff mistake as Michael Wells went in unopposed to grab Sligo another massive win. This wasn’t to be his final act of the game as he also touched down again in the final play of the game with a 70 metre team try to cap off a fine day for Mannion’s men.
Sligo now have three games to go and are in with a real shot of both promotion and being crowned champions. Let’s get behind this exciting side for the last stretch of games.
Sligo:Kuba Wotkowitz, Shane O’Hehir, Conor Mitchell, Ciaran Cassidy, Jamie Bowes, Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill, Simon Coulter, Shane Boyle, Ryan Feehily, Michael Wells, Calum Goddard, Daire Byrne, Mark Rooney, Conor Kerins, Jack Keegan. Replacements: Thomas Gormley, Matt Davey, Ross O’Boyle, Enda Gavin, Graham Kerr