Sligo U18.5s 29 – Buccaneers U18.5s 26
Hamilton Park played host to Round 7 of the U18.5 Division 1A league on Sunday and it was the home side who had an explosive start to the game, dominating from the kick-off, with Will Whelan showing great footwork to weave his way through the Buccaneers’ defence and ground the ball in the corner. The difficult conversion fell short and Sligo were 5-0 up. The next 25 minutes was played within the Sligo 22m as Buccaneers dominated the play. They were eventually rewarded for their efforts when they drove over for a try and the conversion put them 2 points ahead with 5 minutes to go in the half. Sligo had the chance to take back the lead with a penalty and resultant line-out on the Buccaneers’ 5m line, but the ball sailed over the back of the line out giving possession back to the visitors, a fortunate knock-on ended the half, with Sligo trailing by a mere 2 points.
The second half was a hotly contested affair with Matthew Earley first to open the scoring, dotting down out wide to put the home side 10-7 up. Buccaneers were quick to counter and retake the lead with a try but failed to add the extras. The pace of the game was hectic, with lots of phases of play and Sligo enjoyed a period of dominance with Will Whelan getting the ball wide, spotting a gap in the Buccaneers defence and racing over the line to run the ball in under the posts. Matthew Earley stroked the conversion over and the home side were 17-12 up with 15 minutes to go. Buccs’ regained possession from the restart and went through the phases to eventually work the ball score under posts to retake the lead from the home side.
Sligo maintained pressure from the restart and won the ball back through determined rucking. Will Whelan was on fire, and his sidestep carved open the Buccaneers’ defence again to clock up his third try of the afternoon to give his side a 3 point margin with 10 minutes remaining. This was quickly followed by another sweeping move across the pitch and a neat grubber kick from Hubert Gilvarry, was collected by Thomas Fox and he dotted down under the posts for his team’s fifth try of the game. Earley’s conversion added the extras and Sligo lead 29-19 with only 7 minutes left. The game still had another few twists and turns to go, as the visitors made the most of a series of calls in their favour to drive over the line from a 5 metre penalty. The conversion sailed over to bring it back to a 3 point game. Sligo defended from the restart and their defence held strong in the final few seconds of the game, as a Buccaneers drive was held up over the line. The referee awarded the 5 metre scrum and then blew the final whistle, much to relief of a large home crowd.
This epic win means that Sligo leapfrog Buccaneers into 4th position in the league. Their next game is a tough encounter away to league leaders Ballinasloe on Sunday 9th December