HIGHS ARE precious and lows are customary so when a well deserved win comes along it provides the lift that makes all the hard work worthwhile. For Sligo RFC Saturday was one of the good days
Last season Sligo travelled to Sutton in search of valuable league points and were dealt a harsh lesson by the east Dublin outfit who racked up a 4 try bonus while sending Sligo home empty handed.
The nature of that defeat hit Sligo hard, but to their credit, the management team and players were determined to right that wrong and on Saturday the ghost was buried in style.
Suttonians won the toss and elected to play into the gale force wind coming from the Knocknarea end in the first half. With the conditions in their favour it was important that Sligo capitalised and some fine kicking from outhalf Paddy Pearson and full back Mark Butler ensured that the early exchanges were played in the visitors 22.
With 12 minutes gone Sligo opened the scoring. A lineout on the Suttonians 22 was collected by the commanding James Wilson. The ball was move right towards centre field to Jerome Harrimatte. The centre crashed forward and a ruck was set up in midfield. Scrum half Mickey Murphy cleverly switched play left and Butler recieved 15 yards out. The full back put a precise grubber kick through the on rushing defence and beat the cover to touch down 15 metres from touch.
Suttonians responded and some enterprising play allowed outhalf Van Gruting an opportunity to convert a penalty to bring the play to 5-3.
With half an hour gone on the clock Sligo moved back into a 5 point lead. A fine kick chase forced Suttonians into a penalty concession and Butler pushed Sligo to 8 points with a well judged effort.
Sligo were now in the ascendancy and were looking to add to their score before the break. Fine kicking positioned them inside the Suttonians 22. The forwards took over with Sligo's back row of David Heath, Aidan Mc Nulty and Rory Kerins generating the hard yards. The pressure yielded a penalty 5 yards from the visitors line and Sligo's captain Tadgh Power opted for a scrum. Power and his props Ross Mannion and Conor Mitchell put the squeeze on the Suttonians front row and their superior scrummaging gave the ref no choice but to award a penalty try to Sligo. Butler chipped over the conversion to put the half time score to 15-3 in favour of the home side.
Facing into the elements in the second half it was important that Sligo started strongly and to their credit the home team repayed the faith of their faithful supporters. Heath collected the kick off and drove into the heart of the visitors setting the tone for his team mates. Aaron Spring was a constant threat in midfield with his barnstorming runs and winger Chris Nairn excited the watching crowd whenever he received the ball. On the opposite wing Billy Leahys quick feet rescued Sligo on more than one occassion.
Sligo's industry was rewarded with a superbly taken score. Powerful second row Jamie Bowes carried into the heart of the Suttonians defence. The play was moved left and a deft grubber kick allowed the ever alert Kerins the chance to race through and dot down for the games decisive score.
Suttonians continued to press, using the elements to their favour but Sligo's resolve was strong and despite the best efforts of the Dublin outfit there was only going to be one winner! Sligo's defence stood strong and when the ref blew the long whistle it was the westerners who were cheering
Sligo's next assignment is at home to Naas RFC. Naas are currently lying 5th in the UBL division 2b table but on current form Sligo are a match for everyone in division 2B and will be eagerly awaiting the visit of the Kildare outfit. The match kicks off at 2.30 on Saturday February 16th. SLIGO: Mark Butler, Chris Nairn. Jerome Harrimate, Aaron Spring, Billy Leahy, Paddy Pearson, Mickey Murphy, Ross Mannion, Tadhg Power, Conor Mitchell, James Wilson, Jamie Bowes, David Heath, Rory Kerins, Aidan Mc Nulty. Reps Adrian Mc Hale, Gary Conneely, Eoin Matthews, Sean Donnelly, Peter Mullan.