For the second week in a row Buccaneers U-20’s looked the better outfit, yet contrived to lose again against a side that had much less possession and territory as Corinthians held on for a dramatic 23-22 win in their J.P.Fanagan Leinster League Premier 2 clash at Dubarry Park on Sunday. Buccs got close to their opponents’ line regularly but found Corinthians in defiant mood as the Tribesmen avenged their Connacht League final defeat.

On a sunny but cold afternoon, underfoot conditions while soft held up remarkably well bearing in mind the near incessant recent wet weather. Buccs fielded five changes from the defeat at Greystones with Caleb Smerdon and Cormac Lyons being key absentees. But they almost made the perfect start, Oisin Dolan making a terrific break inside the opening minute but he was tackled just short while the Pirates were then held up over the line. Having survived this early onslaught, Jack Conway promptly harnessed the fresh breeze to thump over a 3rd minute penalty for the visitors. Buccs responded almost immediately, a fine maul earning a 6th minute penalty which Jack Clarke slotted over.

Buccs were playing most of the rugby but Corinthians regularly eased pressure with wind-assisted kicks downfield. Paidi O’Leochain made a wonderful catch and break but lacked quick support in the frenetic opening exchanges while the westerners’ winger Eoghan O’Rourke was hauled down short of the home line after a swift counter-attack. But they breached the home cover for 22nd minute try converted by Conway who then added another long penalty for a 13-3 lead.

Missed tackles enabled Orin Burke make a lot of ground that led to Corinthians second try on 32 minutes, Conway again being unerring with the conversion. Buccs stormed forward in the closing stages of the half and, following a penalty to the left, their pressure was rewarded when the ball was switched wide to Yishai Avrahami who stretched over for a 38th minute unconverted try that narrowed the Pirates arrears to 20-8 at halftime.

Now assisted by the nippy breeze Buccs were quickly on the offensive following the change of ends. A penalty to the right got them inside the Corinthians 22 where Fionn McDonnell, as he did all through the game, won clean lineout ball to set up an impressive maul that was finished by Kalani Kake for a 45th minute try converted by Clarke. Corinthians retorted with a Conway penalty that was to prove a crucial score.

Buccs then pounded the home line but steadfast defending held the homesters up over the line. The Shannonsiders continued to press forward but found the Corinthians defence in resolute mood until the 69th minute when Misipati Tavae’s smart quick tapped penalty caught the visitors off-guard as he raced in for a try converted by Clarke.

This narrowed the arrears to a solitary point and set up a grandstand finish. Try as they might, Buccs just could not apply the finishing touch to several close-in sallies and, at the end of a terrific contest, had to settle for a losing bonus point despite outscoring the Galway club by 3 tries to 2. McDonnell, Patrick Egan, Tavae and Finian Murray did their utmost for the losers. Meanwhile, Corinthians were much more economical when they got opportunities with Conway, Burke, Patrick Flannery and C.P.Leonard all contributing to this win that moved them to the top of the league table and spoiled a near perfect weekend of results for Buccaneers!

BUCCANEERS:- M.Tavae; R.Lynch, Y.Avrahami, J.Crampton, P.O’Leochain; J.Clarke, N.Loughnane; C.Byrne, O.Dolan, F.Murray; L.Giles, F.McDonnell (captain); K.Kake, P.Egan and R.Byrne. Replacements:- D.Bolger (for Byrne, 52 mins), E.McDonnell (for O’Leochain, 52 mins), A.Burke (for Dolan, inj. 66 mins), J.Rowan (for Giles, 70 mins), T.McClain, J.Dillon and K.Barrett.

CORINTHIANS:- O.Burke; D.Joyce, H.Sheridan, C.Grant, E.O’Rourke; J.Conway, J.Tierney; E.Oifoh, C.P.Leonard, A.Burke; E.Connolly, R.Gaughan; D.Fitzpatrick, P.Flannery G.Kilkelly. Replacements:- D.Kilcommons (for Kilkelly, inj. 33 mins), J.Hughes (for Oifoh, 49 mins), L.Walsh (for Fitzpatrick, 49 mins), S.Phillips, M.Goodwin, K.Brennan and J.Fenton.

Referee:- Cian Hough.