A very youthful Buccaneers Juniors side was unlucky to at least not secure a losing bonus point when going down narrowly 29-21 to Castlebar in their Cawley Cup Pool 1 game played at Cloondeash on Sunday. Heavy pre-match rain meant conditions there added to the challenge for the lighter Buccs side.

Buccaneers, disrupted by late cry offs, started poorly and found themselves 17-0 down after 20 minutes, with some poor first up tackles and execution allowing Castlebar gain early momentum. Buccs cause was not helped by a very harsh yellow card to influential openside flanker Koronato Kiripati. During this time Buccaneers conceded two converted tries and a penalty. To their credit they didn’t allow their heads to drop and on the back of a dominant scrum Buccs began to find their rhythm. It was off this very solid platform, inside Castlebar’s 22 that Buccaneers scored a training ground move with Jack Scouler picking from base and feeding young Kiripati to score under the posts, extras added by Andrew Evans. Buccaneers very much dominated the closing period of the first half.

Buccaneers started the second half promisingly and but for some inconsistent refereeing decisions didn’t get their reward. Instead they conceded a try from a mazy run by replacement outhalf. Buccs duly responded, off the back of a crunching Cedric Fokam tackle and rip by Scouler they regained momentum. Aided by Gerard Fallon’s move to outhalf and the introduction of new centre Orrin Burgess, the latter bringing real aggression and purpose, made a number of dominant tackles and big carries.

Fallon kicked a garryowen deep into Castlebar 22 allowing Burgess put in a big hit, turn over and dive over for a try, converted by Evans. Buccs scored again soon after when a clever penalty cross field kick was gathered by Adam Flanagan, replacement full back, and scored by the posts converted by Evans. Buccs were buoyed by closing the gap to a single point. Evans was just wide with a long range penalty. Then some sloppy play and unforced penalties gave Castlebar 5m lineout where the mauled over for the decisive score.

The whole Buccaneers pack fronted up in particular the young players Fionn McDermott, Kiripati, and Scouler. Fallon was composed at outhalf, Cameron Rooney-Digan on the wing was always hungry for work as was Harry Balsiger who played fullback, centre and wing, showcasing his versatility. The evergreen Niall Harney brought a cool head to the closing proceedings. Undoubtedly this young Buccaneers squad with a bit more guile and composure can be very competitive in the Junior League, starting next Sunday at home to Sligo.

BUCCANEERS:- H.Balsiger; G.Fallon, D.Mulvihill, R.Teape, C.Rooney-Digan; A.Evans, Colin Daly (captain); C.Fokam, R.Grenham, J.Kelly; K.Connolly, F.McDonnell; C.O’Grady, K.Kiripati and J.Scouler. Replacements:- A.Flanagan (for Teape), O.Burgess (for Mulvihill) and N.Harney (for Fokam).