Match Report v Buccaneers
A tough day at the Office
This weekend saw our Senior XV on the road to Buccaneers for the first away fixture of the season. Buccaneers have built somewhat of a fortress in Dubarry Park and it is always a tall order to go up there and come away with a victory. Still missing from the squad were Brian Downey, Richard Mullane and Stephen Fitzgerald who all picked up knocks against Ballymena in our previous match, but we still lined out with a strong squad.
The weather was unpredictable on the day with blustery and showery conditions; but it was mostly dry throughout the match. Shannon kicked off and Bucs attacked up the middle of the pitch. Bucs were first to knock on and we were in possession in the first scrum of the game. The Shannon forwards packed down and after a solid push, were awarded a penalty. We went to touch here and took a lineout on the Bucs 10. Secure ball from this saw a maul set up, which made good ground towards the Bucs 22. John Andress peeled off the back and took the ball into contact with Bucs penalised for coming off their feet. With only 4 minutes on the clock, we took a shot at goal but were unlucky to miss.
Bucs kicked off and we fumbled the ball, luckily it went back. We gathered this and launched an attack from our 22. Keith Kavanagh tested the water by putting up a high kick, bringing us to the half way line where Bucs recovered. We were guilty of not releasing the tackle and Bucs kicked to our 22. They mauled forwards from the resulting lineout and their no 8 Kiripati broke off the back but was well marked and gained no ground. Our forwards were quick off the mark and Bucs still didn’t gain ground until we were pinged again at the breakdown. Bucs slotted this over and opened up the scoring going ahead 3-0 after 9 minutes.
We kicked off and Bucs recovered launching a Garryowen back our way. Ronan McKenna got right under it and secured the ball in a great take. We spread it wide and were running a good attacking lines but were unfortunate to knock on just outside out 10. Bucs spread the ball to the backs from the scrum and Shannon came up fast in defence but Bucs retained possession. The ball was dropped and Shannon recovered, moving forward but the call was made to scrum down. We spread the ball out to the backs to Robbie Deegan. Robbie took the ball into contact just inside the Bucs 10; again Bucs were peanlised for not holding their feet. Ronan McKenna lined up a penalty but again was wide of the mark. The score remained 3-0 at 14 minutes.
Play continued with neither side budging and early jitters saw handling errors for both. Shannon seemed to have the upper hand in the scrums and we settled into what was looking like a bruising encounter with massive hits and high physicality levels. Bucs were utilising their size and were very strong at counter-rucking and attacked around the corner as much as possible. Shane Mullally was sure under the high ball, passing the ball wide to Ronan McKenna who was dangerous as always, making breaks from deep and gaining solid ground. Unfortunately, after 20 minutes, Shannon suffered a big blow when Keith Kavanagh retired from the game due to injury, replaced by Sean Markham.
Time resumed and Bucs were still using the forwards in attack, 8 was using every opportunity to pick and go bringing the first centre in to the match as much as possible. Both sides were still guilty of knock-ons. Shane Mullally was again secure under the ball and each time our backs went up, the forwards were quick in support. Lee Nicholas and Conor Glynn in particular made themselves available as much as possible and made solid carries. A Lee Nicholas pass sent Robbie Deegan crashing towards the Bucs 22 and Ty Chan was next to take on the ball as Shannon launched a relentless attack. Shannon spread the ball wide and Shane Mullally did well to bring the play back to the cover of the forwards and keep the ball alive. Conor Fitzgerald got himself in a decent position and kicked the ball high, Ronan McKenna was quick off the mark and applied fantastic pressure to make the Bucs full-back carry the ball over the line. We took a scrum on the Bucs 5 with Lee picking and going, finding Will Leonard in support. Will kept the ball alive and John Foley was next to carry, Bucs conceded a penalty for offside. Conor Fitz stepped up and slotted this over levelling the score 3-3 at 25 minutes.
Bucs recovered from the kick off and kicked to the Shannon 22. They took a quick ball from the line out and attacked through the backs. The ball found its way to their out-half who kicked and as their chaser prepared to catch; Ronan McKenna again shot up and put the receiver under enough pressure to knock on. With the ball still live, Shannon kicked and Bucs took the resulting line out just inside their own half. Bucs scrum half got clean ball from the top of the line out and quickly spread it out to the backs. The second centre broke the line with three men outside him and drew in the defender, passing the ball to send Rory O’Connor over the line between the posts, this was converted leaving the score 10-3 after 29 minutes. At this stage Tim Tobin was forced to call a halt to his game with a split and Ronan Hunt took over on the wing.
Again knock-ons determined the play with both packs scrumming down. Shannon were dominating here and took the opportunity of a Bucs wheel and the Bucs prop dropping his bind to use our possession to get claen ball out to the backs. James Vaughan joined the backs and came onto the ball at pace and made good ground, we kicked here and Bucs recovered on their own line. They brought the ball in and the scrum half had to put in a pressure kick to touch on their own 22. We produced a good line out from this and Sean Markham got clean ball out to the backs, again we were unfortunate to knock on.
Bucs put into the scrum but Shannon made a nuisance of themselves and won a penalty here at 35 minutes. Again we were unfortunate to miss this. Ariel tennis followed after this with each side opting to test each other’s back three. Bucs emerged from this with the ball and attacked the line, kicking from the back of the ruck to Ronan McKenna who made good ground before being tackled to touch. Bucs got the ball out to the backs off this lineout and James Vaughan put in a solid hit halting the attack. Bucs came in from the side of the ruck and Conor Fitzgerald used the resulting penalty to kick us to their 22. Riley Winter did well in the line out and Conor Glynn got a hand on the ball making a great break. Will Leonard was next to crash a ball up; and as play went on there was an incident off the ball which saw Will get a yellow card on the stroke of half time.
Kick off for the second half saw Bucs in possession and exposing the gap left by our sin binning. They took the ball up and shipped it to Kiripati who barrelled over the line leaving a wake of destruction behind him. This was converted at 42 minutes and left the score 17-3. Conor Glynn was subbed off at this stage replaced by Jason Cronin. Shannon kicked off and Bucs took it into contact with their 10 standing off and kicking it to Ronan McKenna. A trading of kicks saw Shannon in possession for a lineout on our own 10. There was a lineout over throw here and Bucs gathered, attacking wide. Ronan McKenna found himself in receipt of a turn over and was under pressure as he kicked the ball out on our 10. Again Bucs opted for a backs ball off the lineout and they used the space wisely drawing and passing, using the overlap to send their winger over in the corner for an unconverted try. The score read 22-3 after 46 minutes.
Will Leonard returned to the pitch minutes later and Sean Markham kept up his work rate getting secure ball to the backs from scrums and line-outs. A Shannon knock on from a high ball gifted Bucs a scrum inside our 10. They again used their backs in attack again and Shannon were caught offside and put back ten for discipline. The penalty was missed. The score remained 22-3 at 54 minutes. Kicks were traded between the backs after the kick off, until Shane Mullally got a hand on the ball and launched an attack finding the cover of his forwards. We got secure ball and were moving forward when we were unfortunate to knock on. James Vaughan came off her replaced by Niall Mulachy. Bucs took a scrum just outside their 22, again attacking through the backs. Kicks were traded culminating in Bucs hitting touch on our 22. We got the ball back and kicked for touch. Bucs took the ball in the line out and set up a maul, peeling off and attacking. Ronan McKenna then saw a yellow at 62 minutes for holding on in a ruck.
Bucs picked and went from the back of the scrum and knocked on in contact. We scrummed down on our 5 with Lee picking and going and making great ground before shipping the ball wide for a kick to touch on our 22. John Foley and Ty Chan made big carries too. Shannon kept the ball alive, attacking from deep. We held onto the ball for phase after phase with Riley Winter making a great break. Bucs were offside in the next phase and Conor Fitz put the ball in, gaining a line out on Bucs 22. This was stolen and a kick saw Bucs back to our 22. We secured the ball in the line out but a blocked down kick saw Conor Fitzgerald react quickly to tap the ball down behind the line. Bucs took the scrum on our 5, 8 picking and going and spread the ball wide to use the overlap and touch down in the corner, leaving the score 27-3 coming into the last 10 minutes.
The final ten minutes continued in the same vein, Shannon saw a lot of the ball and continued to attack, fighting to the bitter end. The ref blew up the match after 83 minutes, calling time on an exhausting encounter. The match was a massively physical affair with bruising hits. The score line didn’t reflect the quality of the match. To credit Buccaneers they used their space wisely and were dangerous in attack, displaying strong ball carrying skills. Shannon paid dearly for poor discipline, once again we put on a solid display and similar to Bucs, we were dangerous in attack. Things didn’t go our way on the day but we are by no means down and out. Onwards to Ballynahinch this weekend and best wishes and a speedy recovery to the lads who picked up knocks in the match.