Having blown their recent two J.P.Fanagan Leinster League Premier 2 fixtures, Buccaneers U-20s almost did it for a third time on Sunday at Belfield where, despite being reduced to 13 players for the closing stages, they showed sufficient resolve to hang on for a 10-5 victory in a low-scoring affair. The Pirates were much the better outfit for the opening half-hour but they became sloppy and indisciplined as the game progressed, almost inviting the Students to overhaul them in this Central Bearing Supplies sponsored fixture.

Buccs made four changes from the narrow defeat to Corinthians, Dylan Bolger and James Dillon coming into the pack with Kyle Barrett and Eanna McDonnell starting in the backline where Rory Lynch lined out at fullback with Misipati Tavae switching to standoff. A very strong crossfield breeze proved a spoilsport on the 4G surface.

Buccs made a promising start and, after Charlie Byrne made good ground, Tavae broke smartly from the back of a drive to surge through for an 11th minute try. UCD then enjoyed a spell of pressure which the midlanders withstood. They then made big yardage through a pinpoint Lynch penalty to touch on the left. Robbie Byrne won the lineout and popped possession to Fionn McDonnell and a maul looked sure to yield a try but UCD held them up over the line.

Shortly afterwards, a similar penalty brought Buccs deep into the College 22 where a fine maul made further ground before Kalani Kake broke away and surged through a number of tacklers for a well taken try. Lynch was unable to convert either try but Buccs were looking comfortable 10-0 ahead. Late in the half they looked like adding another try following a another promising maul but lost possession close to the Students line.

In the meantime, after a series of close-in pick and goes Oran Handley pounced for a UCD try. In a prolonged first half that extended well beyond 50 minutes, UCD’s Charlie Mulderry was yellow carded for a high tackle on Eanna McDonnell but Yishai Avrahami joined him in the sin bin just a minute later for slowing the ball illegally. With the last kick of the half, Charles O’Brien was wayward with a UCD penalty.
The third quarter proved a stop/start affair with the only action of note being a surge by Finian Murray that saw him bound over the home line where he was somehow deemed to have been held up despite no defender seemingly in close proximity! UCD pinned Buccs back for the final quarter and Jack Crampton was called on to put in a try-saving tackle on Mulderry.

Avrahami incurred another yellow card and, consequently, saw red while Murray was also despatched to the sin bin in the closing moments. College piled pressure on in search of a win but the 13 young Pirates dug deep to deny them at the death of a scoreless second half. The Pirates pack dominated scrums and lineouts but Buccaneers did not take their chances (and they had plenty) and almost paid the price again. There is the nucleus of a decent side in the squad but indiscipline is another factor that needs to be addressed if Buccaneers are to fulfil their potential.

Again thanks to Joe Bannon and Central Bearing Supplies for their patronage.

UCD:- C.Mulderry; C.Foley, P.van Zuydam, J.Mason, D.Ryan; Jeff Williams (captain), M.O’Brien; Cian O’Brien, M.McHugh, C.O’Brien; S.Treacy, C.Schofield; E.Clarke, C.Laskurain and O.Handley. Replacements:- N.Porter, I.McLaughlin, C.Hillecamp, R.McGroary, T.Byrnes, D.Molloy and B.McCarthy.

BUCCANEERS:- R.Lynch; E.McDonnell, J.Crampton, Y.Avrahami, P.O’Leochain; M.Tavae, K.Barrett; C.Byrne, D.Bolger, F.Murray; J.Dillon, F.McDonnell (captain); L.Giles, K.Kake and R.Byrne. Replacements:- L.Cassidy (for O’Leochain, inj. 35 mins), T.McClain (for Giles, h/t), J.Connolly (for Byrne, inj. 54 mins), N.Loughnane (for Barrett, 60 mins), A.Burke (for Bolger, 60 mins and A.Oates.

Referee:- Rhys Doyle (Leinster).