Sligo RFC 33 – Dungannon RFC 25
Sligo picked up their first win of the 2018/19 All Ireland League campaign with a bonus point victory over a strong Dungannon outfit at Hamilton park on Saturday. Sligo scored five trys to the visitors three, securing the all important try bonus point and sending their visitors home with nothing to show for their effort.
Playing towards the airport end Sligo kicked off and an excellent challenge from Phillip Carter secured early possession for the hosts. Sligo looked to move the ball through the phases with Rob Holian and Jason Havea carrying well in the opening exchanges. But despite Sligo having the lions share of possession early on it was the visitors that struck first when a sweeping backline move culminated in a touchdown in the left corner.
The conversion drifted wide but Dungannon increased their advantage with a penalty from the Sligo 22 with ten minutes on the clock.
Sligo knuckled down and worked their way back into the game. Shane O’Hehir was successfully hitting the target at the lineout, Matt Davey was a menace in open play and the returning Mata Fifita was lording the midfield battle.
Sligo opened their account with fifteen minutes gone. A well worked move opened up the Dungannon defence and Ryan Feehily finished under the posts. Niall Gray converted and Sligo were within a point.
Sligo continued to press and took the lead with twenty-five minutes gone. Mark Butler expertly placed a penalty into the left corner. The forwards took over drove for the line with Shane Boyle on hand to touch down. Gray struck an excellent conversion and Sligo were ahead by six.
Sligo moved further ahead five minutes later. An excellent backline left to right movement gave Calum Goddard the chance to use his blistering pace to scorch the defence and race to the line for Sligo’s third of the day and move the score to 19-8.
With five minutes left in the half Dungannon struck back with a converted try on the right from a powerful driving maul to move within four of Sligo. The visitors had their tails up and looked to take the lead before the interval. A penalty award positioned play five yards from the Sligo line. A series of scrums ensued with the powerful Dungannon scrum putting huge pressure on the Sligo eight. The home scrum stood firm however, and forced the concession of a penalty and Sligo went into the break in front.
The northerners purple patch continued after the break with a try out wide with eight minutes played, earning a one point lead,but Sligo hit back immediately when Feehily intercepted a long pass in the 22 and raced in under the posts. Gray converted and Sligo were up by six and the try bonus point was secured.
With fifteen minutes remaining Sligo hit again. A penalty on the 10 metre line was dispatched to the corner and a well worked lineout move allowed powerhouse prop Kuba Wojtkowicz the chance to drive over the defence and touch down left of the posts. Grays conversion pushed Sligo’s total to thirty three and importantly a two score lead with ten left on the clock.
The visitors rallied for one last effort and were rewarded with a late score out wide but it proved to be just a consolation score as the missed conversion was the last act of an excellent game of rugby football.
Next for Sligo is trip eastwards to take on table toppers NUIM Barnhall. The Sligo confidence will be high but a huge effort will be required to earn success at Parsonstown. The match kicks off at 2.30 on Saturday.
Sligo Niall Gray, Calum Goddard, Ryan Feehily (co-captain), Mata Fifita, Philip Carter, Mark Butler, Brendan Cunningham, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Shane O’Hehir, Thomas Gormely, Jason Havea, Rob Holian, Shane Boyle, Matt Davey, Ross Hickey. Reps. Ross O’Boyle, Conor Mitchell, Ciaran Cassidy, Christian Nielsen, Enda Gavin.