BUCCANEERS SECONDS lost their 100% record when going down to a surprise 29-12 home defeat to their Sligo counterparts in their Bank of Ireland Connacht Junior 1B League fixture played in horrendous conditions at Dubarry Park on Sunday. A strong blustery breeze and increasingly heavy downpours made for a stamina sapping contest on the sodden surface in which the visitors seemed to be more up for.
This was despite the concession of a try straight from the kick-off, Cameron Rooney-Digan’s chase earning him a blockdown on the Sligo fullback’s attempted clearance and the home winger swooped on the lose ball for a try in less than 30 seconds. The usually reliable John Why was unable to convert and then missed a kickable penalty as Buccs failed to press home their early dominance.

Julian Leszczyncki opened Sligo’s account with a penalty and the north-westerners gained a grip on the proceedings with Brian West finishing off some sustained territory after a home knock-on for a try that gave them an 8-5 advantage at half-time after Buccs bewilderingly opted for a fruitless penalty to touch when straight in front of the posts.

Buccs regained the lead after a penalty to touch near the Bounty corner, the lively Luke Balsiger surging over for a try converted by Mark Earle. Sligo responded with a penalty and then Andrew Ward notched a try after further pressure. Buccs were then caught dozing with a crossfield kick by the visiting outhalf with Niall O’Connor touching down on the blindside to extend Sligo’s lead to 23-12.

Sligo No.8 West was fortunate to escape with a yellow card for a high tackle on Ryan O’Meara but substitute Earle soon joined him in the sin bin before Buccs could benefit from their temporary numerical advantage. Leszczynski made light of the worsening conditions with two fine penalties to complete the 29-12 scoreline. In the closing stages, Luke Balsiger and Sam Fogarty made good ground but Buccs just could not finish them off and so tasted a first defeat but still top the league table ahead of their festive break.

BUCCANEERS:- H.Hughes; C.Rooney-Digan, J.Nagle, T.Shine, H.Balsiger; J.Why, G.Fallon; N.Guliashvili, C.Morrissey (captain), S.Flynn; C.O’Grady, S.Fogarty; C.Brill, L.Balsiger and R.O’Meara. Replacements:- M.Earle (for Rooney-Digan), C.Daly (for Flynn), D.Brady (for O’Grady), D.Browne (for Brill), R.Keighery-Farley (for Browne), S.Flynn (for Guliashvili), M.Staunton, L.O’Connor and M.Lyons.

SLIGO:- F.Young; S.Gilvarry, J.Bamber, C.Creaven, N.O’Connor; J.Leszczynski, A.Ward; O.Lawley, H.R.Gourrege, E.Lang; C.Cummins, E.Ryan; B.Hynes, L.McVitty and B.West. Replacements:- D.Cullen, E.Ballantine, P.Wright, J.O’Regan, L.Thornton, D.McElhinney, D.Walker and E.Douglas.

Referee:- Cathal Roddy (Connacht).