- Result: Galwegians U15 23 - Buccaneers 13
- Venue: Ballinasloe RFC on Sun Feb 10th 2019
- Competition: Connacht U15 League
Buccs got the game underway and Galwegians Conor Cooke fielded from the kick off and set the ball up well from the resulting ruck. Hugh Gavin carried well from the next phase only to be very quickly penalised by referee Christy O'Sullivan for holding on in front of his own posts. Luka Giles made no mistake for Buccs 3-0.
Wegians settled well immediately after this and through their backline began to get a hold on the game. Hugh Gavin at 12 was punching holes in the Buccs defence almost everytime we ran the ball but unfortunately the referee found reasons to punish Wegians everytime they went to ground.
This along with some uncharacteristic handling errors in the backline suggested nerves might have a part to play.
Eventually on 12 mins Wegians managed to forage into the opposition 22 and a very neat chip over the heads on the blindside from the base of a ruck by scrum half and eventual man of the match Colin Counihan saw fullback Tiarnan Leen race past the Buccs winger to gather the ball and touch down in the corner.
A fantastic score especially against the elements and the chip Conor Murray would have been proud of. The difficult conversion was missed by winger Fabien Fleetwood 5-3.
With the strong wind behind them Buccs punished Wegians on every infringement with long touchline kicks which kept the Wegians pack at bay.
Eventually on 18 mins from a 5 meter lineout Buccs set up a maul and impressive no.8 Charlie Byrne crashed over the wegians line for an unconverted try 8-5 to Buccs.
Shortly afterwards Buccs again found themselves deep in Galwegians territory but could not break the sturdy defence with some bone crunching tackles from back row David Kelly and 13 Callum Brown.
Playing into the very stiff wind Wegians continued to run the ball from anywhere at every opportunity making great yards on many occasions, this really was a pleasure to watch.
It paid off again when second row Conor Cooke called for the ball off a ruck just outside his own 22. He broke through the attempted tackle and was only hauled down deep inside the Buccs 22 when he ran out of steam.
However, he was well supported by Tiarnan Leen who secured possession at the breakdown which allowed scrum half Counihan to quickly distribute the ball to tight head prop Eoghan Harlowe who at speed gathered the ball on the blind side and was never going to be stopped out wide 10-8 to Wegians.
Again the conversion was narrowly missed. HALF TIME.
The second half started as expected with Wegians now aided by the strong wind having the territorial advantage. The wind at their backs somehow seemed to unsettle the free flowing style
of the first half and this resulted in the Wegians forwards coming more and more into the game with some fantastic carries from loose head Ben McHugh and 2nd row Jack Lineout.
No.7 Bobby Power and the ever menacing scrum half Counihan made great yards on the blind side on a few different occasions. Eventually one of these breaks led to Wegians 3rd try when after many phases No.6 Jack Quinn carried well into contact and set up fast ruck ball which allowed Power to crash over the Buccs line for Wegians 3rd try 15-8.
It was all Wegians at this stage and after more great work by the pack the Buccs cover was streched and the ball was eventually touched down on 48 mins by fullback Leen for his second score which meant the scoreline now read 20-8 and you felt it was game over.
From the resulting kick off Wegians knocked on which gave Buccs an unfamiliar foothold just outside the Wegians 22.
After some great multi phase play over and back Buccs finally broke the resolute Wegians defence and fullback Shaun McGrath touched down out wide on the right. The conversion was missed 20 -13 and after all Wegians dominance it was now a one score game entering the final 6 or 7 mins.
On 55mins after some further great forward attacking play from Wegians which brought them into the Buccs 22 they were again penalised for holding on. Some unsavoury words from one of the bucks forwards directed at the ref meant the penalty decision was reversed.
Leen stepped up to take the all important kick which he duly converted. 23-13 to Wegians with time almost up.
Buccs did rally and showed great spirit and almost scored at the death. Time was up.
A great day for Galwegians U15s, its 9 years since the club last won the U15 league which puts their achievement into perspective.
Pizzas and coke were enjoyed by all afterwards back in Crowley Park along with our victorious U17s.