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Buccaneers 30 - Naas 23 2017-03-26 11:01:00

Buccaneers 30 - Naas 23

Naas continued their push for promotion from Division 1B of the Ulster Bank All Ireland League with an away fixture against Buccaneers last Saturday afternoon. This was always going to be a stern examination for Naas. Buccaneers are well clear at the top of the table and victory for the home side would clinch them promotion and the league title in the process.

Summer finally arrived last Saturday as this game was played in glorious sunshine, and the large attendance were treated to a fine game of open, running rugby.

When Naas look back on this game they will rue the start they made as after only 20 minutes they were as many points down. Not only that but the majority of them came from unforced errors by Naas rather than any Buccaneers brilliance. A high tackle and some holding on in the ruck gifted the home side two early penalties, which Alan Gaughan slotted over. This was followed by a wild pass by a Naas back which lost them possession and before they could get their defence in place, Jordan Conroy had scored a try which Gaughan converted. Then after Max Whittingham had made a break for Naas to give them a great attacking position, they lost the subsequent ruck, 'Buccs' moved the ball to Conroy who sprinted the length of the pitch to score.

With Gaughan converting, a 20 point gap had been opened up and Naas were looking at a very heavy defeat. But on many occasions this season Naas have responded well to adversity and this was to be no exception. Slowly but surely they clawed their way back into contention and set up a dramatic finish.

They finally got on the scoresheet after 26 minutes. Buccaneers came in from the side at a ruck and Peter Osborne slotted the penalty. Ten minutes later he followed this up with a try. Some strong running by Peter Howard created space and Osborne sprinted down the line to score in the corner. Although the conversion was narrowly missed the gap had been reduced to 20-8 at the break.

Within two minutes of the restart the gap was reduced even further. Naas tore into their opponents and won a penalty. They turned down the shot at goal and instead kicked into the corner. From the subsequent line-out they set up a driving maul and when that was stopped just short of the line, Henry Bryce picked up and dived over to make it 20-13.

Gaughen kicked another penalty for the home side but straight from the restart Naas struck again. David Benn threw himself at the attempted 'Buccs' clearance, blocked it down and gathered the bouncing ball. He was tackled just short of the line before finding Paulie Tolofua who scored. A superb conversion by Osborne made it 23-20.

The home side were seriously shaken now but to their credit they increased their lead on 67 minutes with a superb try. After winning a line-out 40 yards out some slick handling by their backs saw the ball quickly moved to Jordan Conroy. He still had plenty to do when receiving it but he showed real class in evading a couple of tackles, before sprinting clear to score under the posts. This was the third try of the day for Conroy, the leading try scorer in the League. The conversion was a formality for Alan Gaughan and Buccaneers now led 30-20.

There was to be one more score in this pulsating game. Following good work by Graham Reynolds and Adam Coyle Naas were awarded a penalty at a ruck. It was a pressure kick for Peter Osborne but he was up to the task and gained Naas a valuable losing bonus point. Although Naas have now dropped to fourth in the League table that losing bonus point means that if Naas win their game in hand they will return to second.

That game in hand is at home next Saturday against Ballynahinch with a 4.00pm kick-off and all support will be greatly appreciated.

Naas team

Peter Osborne, Fionn Carr, Johne Murphy, Henry Bryce, Peter Howard, Ben Swindlehurst, Max Whittingham, Adam Coyle, Graham Reynolds, Jason Harney, Paul Monahan, David Benn, Andrew Kearney, Will O'Brien, Paul Tolofua. Replacements: Warren Larkin, Conor Doyle, Eoin Walsh, Michael Skelton, Rob O'Connor.

Buccaneers: Shane Layden, Eoghan O'Reilly, Eoin Griffin, Mata Fifita, Jordan Conroy, Alan Gaughan, Conor McKeon, Jamie Dever, John Sutton, Martin Staunton, Danny Qualter, Simon Meagher, Stephen McVeigh, Rory Moloney, Kolo Kiripati. Replacements: Ryan O'Meara, Rory Grenham, Ruairi Byrne, Frankie Hopkins, Shane O'Leary.



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