Sligo RFC 36 – Malahide RFC 14
Both sides went into this top of the table clash on the back of a win in the first round. There was a large crowd in attendance at Hamilton Park as the visitors brought a large following down from Dublin. In blustery conditions, Sligo kicked into the Knocknarea end and against the wind.
Sligo started off strongly and quickly released their exciting young backline but couldn’t make their pressure count in the first few minutes. Then the inspirational Matthew Cosgrove earned Sligo a penalty following some great work at the breakdown. Sligo opted to go the corner. Sligo took a quick throw on the 5 metre line to the fleet footed Ryan Feehily who was just held up on the line.
Moments later Sligo made their early pressure count following some fantastic work from James O’Hehir, Shane Boyle, Mark Butler ended with the returning Matthew Cosgrove burrowing his way over the line to put Sligo 5 up. Jack Keegan added the extras to put Sligo 7 up.
On 10 minutes, Sligo won a scrum on Malahide ball and what followed was some champagne rugby from the home side-beautiful offloads from the aforementioned Butler, O’Hehir, and prop Conor Mitchell ended in another Sligo scrum following an infringement in the ruck. Another dominant Sligo set piece ended with a penalty in the opposition 22’. Sligo elected to kick to the corner. From the lineout, Sligo claimed their own ball with O’Dowd Hill prominent in the lineout. Scrum half Feehily then moved it out the back line and Keegan provided a lovely assist for left winger Philip Carter to go in untouched for another 5 pointer. Keegan added the extras to extend the Sligo lead to 14 points to nil.
This latest score brought the visitors to life as they started to apply some pressure on the Sligo rearguard. However, Sligo held firm for a number of minutes until the 18th minute when Malahide put together a lovely flowing move for their tricky no.9 Hugo Nolan to run into the corner for a well worked try. Outhalf Conall Keane added the extras to leave the score at 14-7 in Sligo’s favour.
From the kick-off, Sligo claimed a turnover after Malahide had initially caught the kick. However, Sligo couldn’t convert following another flowing move. Malahide then applied some constant pressure on the Sligo defence and were rewarded with a try on 32 minutes for their efforts. Malahide earned a penalty and with the aid of the breeze punted the ball to the Sligo 5 metre line. Malahide moved the ball well from the lineout and following some lovely interplay between Nolan, Keane and centre Daragh Sweeney ended with a beautiful offload to the onrushing 12 Richie Forbes to force his way over the line from a great running line. Keane added the extras to level up matters at 14 apiece.
Then just before the half time whistle Sligo claimed the Malahide kick deep in their own 22. Sligo’s influential Feehily ducked and dived his way through the opposition defence to set up another attack. He then released the ball to the onrushing Butler who then set centre Michael Wells away, he in turn found Mark Rooney who then timed his pass well to set pacey winger Calum Goddard in for a try and put Sligo back into the lead. Sligo failed to add the extras and left the half time score at 19-14 in Sligo’s favour.
HT: Sligo 19-14 Malahide
At the resumption of play, Sligo brought on young hooker Shane O’Hehir for his brother James O’Hehir, Matt Davey for Manu Parkin and Kuba Wojtkowicz for Conor Mitchell. This brought renewed energy into the Sligo forwards. Sligo started the second half as the finished the first-on the attack and made their pressure pay on 48 minutes when the powerhouse no.8 Matthew Cosgrove went over for his second try following a lovely break and nimble footwork from the inspirational Wells. Keegan duly converted the conversion as Sligo now led 26-14 to put some breathing space between the teams as well as the all important bonus point.
The game then went from end to end as both sides went in pursuit of the crucial score in a critical stage of the game. The crucial score duly arrived and fortunately it was the Yeats men who got it. Sligo replacement prop Kuba showed his potential with a lightning break inside the Malahide 22 and provided the crucial pass for centre Rooney to grab a fifth try for the Sligo men and in under the posts. Keegan again added the extras to put Sligo 33-14 ahead.
One Aussie onlooker described this 5 pointer or “meatie” as “Woweee”. The game started to ebb and flow after that in what was a pulsating encounter. Fortunately, Sligo were the ones who took the initiative and claimed the final score of the half through the boot of the flawless Keegan.
The referee blew the full time whistle and Sligo have now secured top spot in the table with 9 points out of a possible ten. Sligo maintain their stunning form from last season and are continuing their exciting brand of rugby. The full time score was Sligo 36-14 Malahide.
Sligo team: Backs: Jack Keegan, Calum Goddard, Mark Rooney, Mike Wells, Philip Carter, Mark Butler, Ryan Feehily, Forwards: Matthew Cosgrove, Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill, Manu Parkin, Shane Boyle, Ciaran Cassidy, Conor Mitchell, Niall Gray, James O’Hehir, Mark Keegan Replacements: Shane O’Hehir,Kuba Wojtkowicz, James Wilson, Matthew Davey, Niall Gray.