Unlucky Sligo are denied by a late try
Second placed high flying NUIM Barnhall snatched the match winning points with a late intercept try in a lively Ulster Bank League encounter at Strandhill on Saturday.
Sligo held a three point lead going into the last quarter but tragically, against the run of play, Barnhall winger, Matthew Mellote's took a defensive gamble when Sligo looked to have created an overlap and raced to the Sligo line, securing the win for his team.
In ideal conditions for open rugby,it was the visitors who started strongest. The early exchanges were played predominantly in the Sligo half with the visitors profiting from an excellently structured lineout. Despite the early onslaught, Sligo's defence held firm and a Simon Gillespie penalty after 15 minutes was all that Barnhall gained from their efforts. Sligo immediately responded and Mark Butler equalised with a well struck penalty from the twenty-two.
Both sides were moving the ball well but defences held firm and the score remained at three points all at the interval.
Following the restart, it was Barnhall who took the early initiative. A Sligo attack was halted on the Barnhall ten metre line. The ball was turned over and the easterners attacked down the left side. Winger, Ron McGrath recieved the ball in space and raced away from the cover to touch down left of the posts. Gillespie added the extras to move Barnhall seven points clear.
Sligo knuckled down and began to pressurise their visitors. Consistent infringing saw visiting hooker sent to the sin bin and Sligo opted for a scrum on the attacking twenty-two. The ball was moved quickly to Jerome Harrimate who burst forward before being held two metres from the line. The ball was secured and Aaron Spring picked from the base and crashed over for a well worked score.
Sligo were now in the ascendancy and with twenty minutes left they moved in front for the first time.
Stong first up tackling forced the ball to go loose in midfield. Spring burst forward and hacked ahead. A ruck was formed five metres from the line. Scrum-half Mickey Murphy picked and created a loop with Aidan McNulty before touching down wide on the left.
Sligo continued to press to seal the win but unfortunately, it wasn't to be their day and Barnhalls late interception meant the hosts had to be content with a losing bonus point.
Sligo's next league action is away to Skerries RFC on Saturday March 23rd. The match kicks-off at 2.30pm at Holmpatrick.