CILL DARA/NEWBRIDGE PIRATES 7 BUCCANEERS 62
Buccaneers U-20s kicked off their JP Fanagan Leinster Premier 3 Division campaign away to Cill Dara/Newbridge Pirates at Silken Thomas Park on Sunday. The Athlone Pirates cruised through this opener for a clearcut 62-7 victory, their tally divided equally between each half.
Luke Balsiger got his name on the score sheet first scoring from a driving scrum inside the first 10 minutes of the game. Ben Daly, Lasha Laoshvilli and Michael Byrne all scored two tries each as did Balsiger with outhalf Byrne scoring 22 points in total for the Athlone crew. Gavin Daly also got his name on the scoresheet with impact replacement Daragh Fitzgerald scoring the final try of the game which Byrne converted to complete the rout.
Buccs felt the need to make an early impression and were switched on from the start. In the first scrum of the game, the Shannonsiders front row of Kieran Egan, Koronato Kiripati and Laoshvilli melted through their opposition enabling an easy touchdown for Balsiger. This phase of play set the tone for the match, initiating the momentum and foundation, allowing for clean ball at the base of each ruck where Leo McFarlane profited. Crisp passing by Tom Shine and Orrin Burgess sent Daly over for a try with Byrne’s conversion giving the visitors an early 12-0 lead.
The pressure and intensity shown by Buccs allied to the swift pace of Dylan King’s passing completely disrupted the home defence. A spear-like tackle on Cian McCann earned a home player a yellow card with Laoshvilli also being sin-binned for retaliation. Byrne then danced his way through to touchdown between the posts, his conversion giving Buccaneers a 31-0 halftime advantage.
The Athlone side were quickly on the offensive after the change of ends and a short hard line by Gavin Daly saw him stretching over the home line for a try. The Kildare side responded with a converted try but Buccaneers, who were now utilising their bench, and continued to dominate with Laoshvilli next to crash over for a try from a tapped penalty. The prop swiftly added another try following good carrying by Burgess and Fionn McDonnell.
Further impressive interplay was finished off by Daragh Fitzgerald for Buccs tenth try. This was a splendid all-round team performance in which Tom Shine, Laoshvilli, Kiripati, McFarlane, McCann and Egan were prominent. Ali Egan sustained a knee injury and is wished a speedy recovery.
BUCCANEERS:- D.King; A.Kenny, T.Shine (captain), O.Burgess, B.Daly; M.Byrne, L.MacFarlane; L.Loashvilli, K.Kiripati, K.Egan; R.Kilgarriff, F.McDonnell; C.McCann, G.Daly and L.Balsiger. Replacements:- C.Brill, A.Burke, J.Henson, D.Fitzgerald, A.Flanagan, R.McDonagh and J.Finn.