Buccaneers U20s travelled to Templeville Road, Templeogue, on Sunday with high ambitions of coming away with all points and continuing their movement up the league but, not for the first time this year, this talented Buccs team came away with a narrow, frustrating defeat on a 22-21 scoreline.

Playing into a very strong downfield wind blowing into the Templeville Road end, Buccs showed real initial bite when Charlie Byrne ran onto a neat inside pass off the back of a ruck and crossed the line and under the posts from 20m out for Buccs first try which was converted by Ewan Joyce. At this point, Buccs were strong and up for the challenge and certainly looked like they could build on this, even playing into the strong wind, but that wind would prove difficult for the remainder of the half which Mary’s used to their advantage.

While Buccs had most of the possession, Mary’s used the strong wind by putting boot to ball and setting a couple of platforms on no more than 3-4 forays into Buccs 22 in the entire half. However to the Pirates dismay, two of these visits yielded converted tries, both of which came from poor Buccs defensive structures and tackling off the base attaching rucks from 5m. With both tries easily converted by Mary’s, this left the half time score at 14-7 to the home team, with Buccs feeling somewhat perplexed at their first half performance, particularly given the quality of their team.

The midlanders started the second half with much confidence, with the strong breeze, albeit a little calmer, now on the backs. But as they have experienced on a number of occasions this season, despite enjoying most of the possession and significant territory advantage for the entire half, Buccs were finding it difficult to convert this into tangible scores.

However, after a sustained period of almost all of the first 15 minutes of the second half inside the Mary’s 22, Buccs eventually cracked the home defence when Dylan Bolger crossed from close range. Ewan Joyce again converted to level the scores at 14-14. The following 10 mins were crucial to Buccs dominance up to this point bu,t with a needless yellow card for a high tackle, they were reduced to 14 players. Some scrappy defending followed, allowing Mary’s a brief spell into the Buccs half where their scrumhalf made a 40m break to score in the corner against the run of play. With the conversion missed, this left the score at 19-14 to the home side going into the last 15 minutes of the game.

This score seemed to lift Mary’s spirit and Buccs were beginning to force things in an effort to get that elusive winning try, with the hosts eventually winning a penalty for an offside infringement which they duly converted. This put 8 points between the teams meaning Buccs needed to score twice in the final 10 mins to win the game. This period saw Buccs having sustained pressure inside the Mary’s half with a number of opportunities to score but each time the home defence held out.

With the last play of the game, Buccs did cross with Aaron Burke getting the touch down off the back of a close-in ruck. Dylan Duffy converted from close to the side line but time unfortunately ran out and the game agonisingly ended on a score line of 22-21 to St. Mary’s College. Another tough defeat for this talented Buccs U-20s outfit to take, but it’s a learning curve and they know that they’re capable of overcoming these tough days. They’re back on duty again this weekend with a home game to Greystones, fixed for Sunday, 4th February with a 2.30pm KO.

BUCCANEERS:- E.Joyce; J.Donnelly, C.Lyons, C.McDonagh, S.McGrath; R.Lynch, E.Friel; C.Byrne, O.Dolan, F.Murray; F.McDonnell (captain), L.Giles; J.Crampton, R.Byrne and K.Kake. Replacements:- A.Burke, T.Finau, D.Bolger, T.McClain, C.Sheehan, K.Barrett and T.O’Brien.

Referee:- Katie Jane Wickham (Leinster).