SLIGO ROUNDED off their Connacht Senior league campaign in the best possible fashion when they scored six trys on their way to victory over a strong Buccaneers outfit at Strandhill on Saturday. Sligo's bonus point win, combined with a narrow victory for Corinthians over Galwegians, means that the north westerners will face Galwegians in a league final play off as both clubs finished their campaigns on 15 points.
With conditions ideal for open rugby Sligo kicked off towards the mountain end and put early pressure on their visitors. Despite Sligo's efforts it was the midlanders who opened the scoring when some loose defending saw the concession of a converted try after 8 minutes. Sligo were stung into life and immediately hit back. Some expansive play positioned them in the Buccs 22 forcing the visitors to kick for touch. From the resulting lineout the pack drove over the line and James Wilson was on hand to touch down in the corner. 15 minutes in Sligo moved ahead when a blindside move involving Rory Kerins was moved open to Aaron Spring and the powerful youngster burst through the cover on the 10 metre line before rounding two defenders and finishing to the left of the posts to move the score to 10-5 in their favour.
Sligo looked to have scored a third try just before the interval when a sweeping left to right move released Chris Nairn down the touchline but the centre was bundled into touch just short of the line. However, the referee had spotted an infringement earlier in the move and awarded Sligo a penalty which Mickey Murphy converted to move the score to 13-7 at the break.
Buccaneers started the second half strongly and began to bring their big running forwards into the game. With 10 minutes gone a sustained period of pressure resulted in the concession of a converted try to move the score to 1314. Sligo again battled back and camped were awarded a penalty deep in the visitors 22. Captain Paddy Pearson opted to go for touch and positioned his team five metres from the line. Wilson secured the lineout and his pack drove forward before Murphy moved the ball to Pearson. The outhalf stepped inside the rush defences before being stopped short of the line. From the resulting ruck Murphy sniped right and reached out to score his team's third try. The scrum half added the conversion to put Sligo ahead by 20 points to 14.
Again Buccaneers responded, and some slack home tackling saw the concession of a try under the posts which was converted to move the midlanders ahead by a single score. With 15 minutes left on the clock a determined Sligo hit back again. A penalty in midfield was quickly tapped and moved to Robbie Keegan, the speedy winger burst into the 22 before being hauled down. The ball was quickly moved right to David Gerrity who raced away to score in the corner. Murphy struck a sweet conversion to move the score line to 27-21 in Sligo's favour. Sligo struck again with 10 minutes left on the clock. A turnover on the halfway line was shifted right to substitute Billy Leahy. Leahy darted through the defence and made his way into the 22 before off-loading in the tackle to the ever present Rory Kerins who finished in the corner. Another Buccaneers try looked to have set up a tense finish but there was more in the Sligo tank. Another Leahy break was stopped short, the ball was moved to Spring who was held up in the tackle before releasing to his centre partner Nairn. Nairn claimed his second of the day bringing the final score to 37-26 in Sligo's favour. Sligo: David Gerrity, Robbie Keegan, Chris Nairn, Aaron Spring, Julian Ripon, Paddy Pearson, Michael Murphy, Wesley Maxwell, Tadgh Power, Conor Mitchell, James Wilson, Peter Mullan, Eoin Matthews, Rory Kerins, Paddy Conlon. Reps Sean Donnelly, David Cawley, Billy Leahy,Phillip Allen,Aaron Tansey
SECONDS OFF TO A FLYER
The Sligo Rugby seconds team kicked off the new season with a fine win over Galwegians at Hamilton Park on Sunday. Sligo started the game with a light wind in their faces and made much of the early play during the opening stanza. The forwards, ably lead by No 8 and skipper Leigh Fenton, were delivering quick ball to the backs which allowed the midfield duo to make some telling breaks. This period of sustained pressure was rewarded with a kickable penalty which outhalf and Man of the Match Billy Leahy converted to give Sligo the early lead.
Stung into life, the heavier Galwegians pack began making their mark on the game. Powerful surges around the fringes and a clear domination at scrum time, placed the Sligo team under intense pressure. Two penalties gave Galwegians a narrow lead which they then extended with a nicely taken try from an attacking scrum. Sligo's woes further compounded just before halftime, when a loose pass was neatly intercepted by the Galwegians outhalf who cantered to the line to score.
Going into the break 16 - 6 down, the Sligo team needed to deliver a strong second half avoid a first up home defeat. In the early exchanges of the second half, there were clear signs that the men from Galway were tiring. Slowly but surely, the Sligo team worked themselves back into the game. Now it was the Sligo front row of Aaron Tansey, Darren Wilson and Ben Heath who were prospering at scrum time, shunting the Galwegians pack off the ball. Now it was the Sligo loose forwards who were hitting ball up with venom and knocking their larger opponents backward in the tackle.
With the flow of quality ball resumed, the Sligo backs began hitting their stride. Left wing Brian Mullen was terrorising the defence every time he touched the ball, while on the other wing, two tries went begging when great lead up work was spoiled by a poor final pass. The dam finally burst, when after several phases of play, Billy Leahy stepped through the defence to score near the posts.
Stuart O'Brien then scored twice in succession. The first came after some strong work by the forwards which allowed the replacement scrum half to power over the line from short range. The second came when the Galwegian defence, now struggling with the pace of the game, turned their backs after being penalised at ruck time. The quick thinking O'Brien took a tap penalty and ran forty meters to score untouched under the posts. The conversion made the final score 26 - 16 to Sligo.
Juvenile Rugby Training continued on Saturday last at Sligo IT with huge numbers attending, a number of senior players assisted with the coaching of the U11s and U12s which was of great benefit to our team of coaches. On Saturday next 29th all age groups travel to Enniskillen for our first away fixture of the season, all players and coaches are requested to attend, Bus leaves From the Sligo IT at 8.15.
On Saturday 6th Oct we have our first home fixture against Ballina in all age groups. New members are always welcome please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. All members must be registered before end of October full details on the Sligo RFC website.