Buccaneers Seconds and Ballinasloe served up typical derby fare in their Bank of Ireland Connacht Junior 1B League match played in front of a big and vocal crowd at Dubarry Park on Sunday. Buccs held on to record a 23-18 victory in the near perfect conditions but Ballinasloe’s fightback earned them a valuable losing bonus point.

In this their first outing of the campaign, Buccs were the better side for the majority of this contest and built up a 20-3 lead. But Ballinasloe are doughty battlers and had the benefit of an opening day win over Corinthians and they hauled themselves back into the match with a rousing final quarter that had the Athlonians rattled.

Tries by Harry Hughes, Ryan O’Meara and Sam O’Sullivan helped the Pirates dominate the opening hour with John Why adding a penalty and one conversion. A Nick Cusack penalty opened the Ballinasloe’s account before Stephen Grenham burst through for a try as the game entered the final quarter.

This lifted the visitors while Buccs, who had unloaded their bench, became nervy. A try on the right by Gerard Colleran, converted by Cusack, tightened the scoreline to 20-15 to set up a thrilling finish. Why steadied the Pirates ship with a penalty before Cusack replied with a similar score to salvage a bonus point for the losers.

O’Sullivan was pick of an enterprising home backline while O’Meara, Atrio Abono and Nodo Guiliashvili were to the fore in a tough forwards battle.

BUCCANEERS:- J.Nagle; H.Balsiger, R.Murphy-Sweeney, S.O’Sullivan, H.Hughes; J.Why, G.Fallon; A.M.Abono, C.Morrissey (captain), N.Guliashvili; C.O’Grady, S.Fogarty; C.Brill, L.Doyle and R.O’Meara. Replacements:- C.Daly, S.Flynn, L.Callinan, M.Lyons, A.Flanagan, C.Rooney-Digan and O.Burgess.

BALLINASLOE:- A.Mannion; G.Colleran, R.Enraght-Moony, K.Blackweir, C.Barrett; N.Cusack, A.McGreal; D.McDonagh, L.Feehily, C.Smyth; N.Staunton, C.Harewood; S.Egan, R.Wakefield and S.Grenham. Replacements:- M.Kelly, P.Grehan, B.Feeney, C.Finn, J.Mooney, K.Wieczorek, K.Gorman, R.Carry, H.Reynolds, P.Mongan and J.Gibbons.

Referee:-Stephen Gregory (Connacht).