CREGGS moved to the top of the Connacht Junior 1A League following this 29-18 bonus point victory over Buccaneers at The Green, Creggs, on Sunday. But the Athlone side will ponder how they came away empty-handed from this lively but often unstructured affair played in front of a partisan crowd at the impressive venue.

Apart from a cool light breeze conditions were ideal for these two contenders. Buccs got an early grip on the proceedings with their pack dominating the hosts particularly in the scrum. Rory O’Connor looked like opening the scoring with a fine 10th minute break but the home fullback put in a try-saving tackle. However, it took the Pirates just two more minutes to pierce the home cover with Graham Lynch’s quick-thinking catching the homesters off-guard as he surged through for an unconverted try on the left.

Creggs retorted with a 17th minute penalty and this settled the westerners. Both teams spurned opportunities until the closing moments of the half when a quickly tapped penalty caught Buccs napping and Creggs snatched a try that gave them an 8-5 lead at the interval despite being second best for most of the opening period.

Andrew Evans levelled the scores with a 44th minute penalty but Creggs, now growing in confidence, replied with a converted try just four minutes later. It got worse for the Pirates within a further four minutes when Lynch, with a rare error, failed to make touch with a penalty. Creggs countered swiftly and their No.8 powered through from distance for an excellent try which was converted. This gave them a 22-8 lead and they then pilfered a bonus point try when a Buccs clearance was blocked down on 66 minutes.

The impressive Lynch showed great desire to score his second try four minutes from time and then his snappy break was finished off by Colin Daly in the final minute. Two hurried conversion attempts from straight-forward positions were missed which cost Buccs a losing bonus point. Overall, however, the Athlone side made too many errors and their off-the-cuff endeavours left players isolated far too often. Their pack in which James Kelly made a big impact was the superior unit but the backline, despite Lynch’s magnificence, was too loose and disjointed while good chances were not taken that could have yielded a winning result. Nevertheless Buccs can take positives from this setback, mainly their bright start and more especially their strong finish.

BUCCANEERS:- E.O’Carroll; H.Hughes, D.Mulvihill, A.Evans, R.O’Connor; S.Doyle, G.Lynch; S.O’Connell, T.Thompson, C.Fokam; S.Kroupa, F.Galvin; C.O’Grady, R.Flanagan and B.McDonnell (captain). Replacements:- J.Kelly (for Fokam, 24 mins), Cian Daly (for Thompson, 26 mins), Colin Daly (for Mulvihill, inj. 26 mins), C.Fokam (for O’Connell, 44 mins), L.Doyle (for Flanagan, 44 mins), S.O’Connell (for Fokam, 62 mins), T.Thompson (for Cian Daly, 62 mins) and G.Fallon (for S.Doyle, 66 mins).