BUCCANEERS came away empty-handed from their J.P.Fanagan Leinster League qualifier at Corinthian Park where Corinthians proved too strong on a 29-21 scoreline on Sunday. Although Buccs had the majority of last season’s Division 3 winners on duty, they struggled to contain a physically stronger home outfit whose bonus point victory puts them in pole position at this early stage of the qualifiers.

On a grey, breezy afternoon Buccs began the brighter side and will rue not maximising first half chances. They applied steady pressure in the opening quarter but Oisin Dolan knocked on with the line beckoning following a deft Ruaidhri Fallon chip over the defence on 12 minutes.

The Pirates finally breached the home cover 4 minutes later. Luke Balsiger was held up just short of the line but Orrin Burgess cleared out efficiently to enable Fallon pounce for a try which he also converted.

Corinthians, fielded a massive front five, and their power was soon rewarded with their No.8 scoring a 23rd minute try which their outhalf converted to level the scores. They swiftly took the lead, their No.12’s determination winning a teasing Garryowen to make serious inroads into Buccs territory where Adam O’Carroll halted his progress. But support was on hand and their tighthead prop got over on the right for an unconverted 27th minute try.

From the restart the homesters knocked on and Buccs had several pops at the Corinthians line following the resultant scrum before Kieran Egan had the power to ground the ball for a try converted by Fallon. The home fullback then just shaded the race to deny Daragh Fitzgerald finishing off a clever Fallon angled kick so Buccaneers led 14-12 at half-time.

8 minutes into the second half, a Corinthians substitute bulldozed over for a try converted by their flyhalf and, just 3 minutes later, their blindside flanker added an unconverted bonus point try that gave the hosts a 24-14 lead. Buccs responded with the score of the match just 5 minutes later. Fallon, although closed in by four opponents, conjured a piece of magic with a splendidly judged kick ahead and he won the race for a stunning try. His conversion took his points tally to 16 points but Corinthians had the final say when their left winger squeezed in for a late try. Although the conversion was not added, the try denied the midlanders a losing bonus point. An opening day defeat last season proved costly for Buccs; hopefully history will not repeat itself this season.

Although having many survivors from last season’s squad, Buccaneers surprisingly lacked the expected cohesion while they also conceded considerable size to their hard-working opponents who did not provide a teqmsheet. Fallon, O’Carroll and Burgess were pick of the backs while Dolan, Fionn McDonnell and Gavin Daly worked hardest in the pack.

BUCCANEERS:- A.O’Carroll; S.Treacy, T.Shine (captain), O.Burgess, B.Daly; R.Fallon, E.Friel; D.Bolger, O.Dolan, K.Egan; L.Giles, F.McDonnell; D.Fitzgerald, G.Daly and L.Balsiger. Replacements used:- N.Loughnane (for Friel, inj. 16 mins), D.McCormack (for Daly, inj. 27 mins), C.Byrne (for Egan, h/t), J.Dunican (for Treacy, 46 mins), K.Egan (for Bolger, 54 mins), R.Byrne (for Fitzgerald, 54 mins), B.Daly (for O’Carroll, 61mins), S.Fogarty (for Giles, 65 mins) and C.Brill (for Daly, 65 mins).