Buccaneers 22 Lansdowne 16
Buccaneers signalled their intent for the All-Ireland League season ahead by outmuscling Division 2 champions Lansdowne in a compelling clash at Dubarry Park.
Tries from back row duo Colin Watters and Kolo Kiripati and the clincher in injury-time from busy centre Paul Harte were the highlights of a promising display by Buccs, who are now coached by South African Hendre Marnitz.
Lansdowne had a number of new signings dotted throughout their team, including half-backs Eoghan Hickey and John Cooney and hooker Tom Sexton.
Buccs started at breakneck speed, taking a 10-0 lead inside the opening six minutes. Out-half David Connellan kicked an opening penalty before a series of pick and goes from the Buccs pack led to Watters’ converted score.
But two penalties from Hickey after 16 and 31 minutes got Lansdowne into the game and when they seized quick turnover ball before half-time, Shane Gahan was put through for a try wide on the left.
Hickey missed the conversion, leaving the Dubliners with a 11-10 advantage for the second half.
It was up front where Buccaneers were able to put Lansdowne under pressure and the powerful Kiripati crashed over for a 58th minute try, which Connellan converted.
Lansdowne set up a dramatic conclusion by notching a try in the final minute of normal time. A Buccs move broke down, the ball was hacked through and winger Ross McCarron won the foot race to get the touchdown.
Hickey missed the conversion, leaving his side just 17-16 behind. However, Buccs made certain of the win when they attacked the visitors’ 22, swinging play to the right and then left before Harte broke through for a well-taken try.
Replacement Adam Kennedy had a chance to rob Lansdowne of their losing bonus point, but he sent his conversion attempt wide of the uprights.
Scorers: Buccaneers: Tries: Colin Watters, Kolo Kiripati, Paul Harte; Cons: David Connellan 2; Pen: David Connellan
Lansdowne: Tries: Shane Gahan, Ross McCarron; Pens: Eoghan Hickey 2