A greatly improved second half effort by Buccaneers helped them to a hard-earned 25-10 JP Fanagan Leinster League Premier 2 Division victory over Greystones at windswept Dubarry Park on Sunday. The Pirates strengthened their third place in this division by virtue of this win while fourth placed St. Mary’s College suffered a narrow defeat.

Buccs made five personnel changes and a number of positional switches for this must-win encounter. Dylan Bolger and Patrick Egan returned in the pack while Dylan Duffy, Andrew Quinn and Thomas O’Brien started in the backline where Ewan Joyce was moved to the pivotal flyhalf berth. A cold near gale assisted the Athlone side in the first half but they made poor use of it.

Greystones had much the better of the opening quarter and a double move denied them an early try. It took the Pirates quite some time to get a foothold in the opposition 22 where their first spell of concerted pressure yielded a 20th minute Egan try converted by Quinn. A Gavin Rochford penalty reduced the home side’s advantage to a tenuous 7-3 at the interval.

Buccs were much more purposeful following the change of ends and a 43rd minute Quinn penalty improved their position. However, some tepid tackling five minutes later allowed Conor Balmaine escape from his own 22 to run 80 metres and then dot down unchallenged between the uprights for a try converted by Rochford to level the scores at 10-10.

Buccs responded with a fine Quinn penalty into the tricky breeze before some good sustained play was finished off with Finian Murray powering over for a 56th minute try with Quinn adding the conversion. Greystones were not done yet but again they infringed when at the home line while an unnecessary skipped pass that went straight into touch at the other end denied a certain Buccs try.

However, the Pirates had the final say when Tevita Finau charged through the Stones ranks for a try which Quinn duly converted to seal the 25-10 victory. Meanwhile Greystones had both Thomas Gilmore and Noah McNulty yellow carded in that final flurry.

Buccs performance was far from perfect with poor line-kicking in the opening half and even worse decision making at lineouts. How and why they persisted with long throws in the gale was mystifying. But there was a greater urgency and coherence in the second half with Egan and Robbie Byrne prominent although discipline must be improved ahead of the Connacht derby away to leaders Corinthians on February 18th.

BUCCANEERS:- A.Quinn; D.Duffy, T.O’Brien, C.McDonagh, J.Donnelly; E.Joyce, E.Friel; D.Bolger, O.Dolan, F.Murray; F.McDonnell (captain), K.Kake; J.Crampton, P.Egan and R.Byrne. Replacements:- L.Giles (for Crampton, inj. 38 mins), A.Burke (for Dolan, 50 mins), C.Byrne (for Bolger, 50 mins), T.Finau (for Murray, 64 mins), N.Loughnane (for Friel, 69 mins), C.Sheehan and J.Clarke.

GREYSTONES:- C.Stewart; D.Henry, C.Balmaine, W.Seymour, T.Gilmore; G.Rochford, J.T.Holland; J.Salmon, R.Byrne, C.McGrath; B.Murphy, F.Denver; N.McNulty, C.Sweeney (captain) and R.Mackey. Replacements:- S.Gaughran, T.McCulloch, N.Ross, R.O’Connell, D.Leahy, S.Kehoe and S.Dalton.

Referee:- Keith Haverty (Connacht).