'Hinch can't hang on in big two battle

'Hinch can't hang on in big two battle

11 September 2011

BUCCANEERS leapfrogged Ballynahinch at the head of Division 1B of the All-Ireland League  after a thrilling top of the table victory at Dubarry Park, Athlone.

The Buccs had to dig really deep to take the lead for the first time just seven minutes from the end of a hugely entertaining, fast moving contest between two youthful teams that warranted a larger attendance.

Ballynahinch set the early pace early on and Ian Whitten opened their account after just 14 minutes with a well-taken try. Further enterprising play led to James Thompson touching down for their second try on 28 minutes.

James Lash converted both tries, but Jack Carty kept the Pirates in touch with a brace of penalties.

Buccs finished the half strongly and were rewarded when Shane Layden somehow outwitted a posse of Hinch defenders down the right flank to link up with Denis Buckley who flighted a beautiful pass to John O'Brien and the home full back stormed in for a 33rd minute try.

Carty's conversion rebounded wide off an upright and after a half that ebbed and flowed the midlanders trailed 14-11 at the interval.

Within a minute of the restart, the sides were level, Carty landing a fine penalty. Whitten and Willie Faloon were not as influential in the second period while Buccs maintained their work rate and tempo.

However, the momentum looked like swaying in favour of the Ulster outfit when home substitute Sean Stapleton was yellow-carded for over-vigorous rucking on the hour mark. Lash, who had earlier missed a penalty, nosed Hinch back in front with a place-kick after 67 minutes, but Buccs' 14 men upped their efforts and levelled at 17-17 through a super Carty penalty from the left touchline.

Chances came and went at both ends of the pitch throughout but now Buccaneers were generally dominant and mainly on the front foot.  Carty's diagonal kick with seven minutes remaining looked the wrong choice, but Ballynahinch full back David Nicholson spilled the ball forward, and Buccs swooped on their opportunity from the resultant scrum.

They displayed superb, composed picking and driving, inching ever closer to the Hinch line before wing Layden powered over in the right corner for an excellently-worked try, capped by a tremendous touchline conversion by Carty to seal the issue.

This was a splendid contest between two young, exciting and talented squads who both displayed some swashbuckling rugby.

Putting in a wonderfully sustained team effort, Buccs maintained their endeavour that bit better throughout, but especially when they had a player in the sin bin, to justify their win and maintain their 100 per cent record.

Ballynahinch: D. Nicholson, S. Morrow, I. Whitten, J. Thompson, A. Ferris, J. Lash, H. McAleese, F. Lynch, N. Hanna (captain), J. Simpson, J. Madden, C. Napier, J. Kirk, W. Faloon, J. Simpson. Replacements: C. Stevenson (for Simpson, 47 mins), J. Graham (for Kirk, 52 mins), J. Simpson (for Stevenson, 74 mins) M. McCormick (for Lash, 74 mins).



Buccaneers 24

Ballynahinch 17

All-Ireland League 1B