Buccs' bid for automatic promotion dented

Buccaneers 14 Dungannon 17

Buccaneers 14 Dungannon 17

The wheels have come off Buccaneers’ bid for an automatic promotion spot following their second successive loss to Division 1B rivals Dungannon.

A strong finish gave Dungannon the points in a 28-25 win when these sides met at Stevenson Park earlier this month.

This afternoon’s clash at Dubarry Park looked to be going Buccs’ way when they opened up a 14-0 lead after just 16 minutes’ play.

Full-back John O’Brien sped through for his ninth try of the campaign and lock Stephen Burke added a second touchdown for the hosts. Out-half Jack Carty kicked both conversions.

Hendre Marnitz’s men were full value for their early advantage in a lively and entertaining clash.

But Dungannon, who are gearing up for the Bateman All-Ireland Cup final, hit back in the 21st minute when Michael Kirkwood’s tap penalty set up Stuart Lester for a try in the right corner.

14-5 ahead at the break, the Pirates were dominant in the third quarter without putting points on the scoreboard.

Callum Boland went close on a number of occasions, as did big number 8 Kolo Kiripati who was held up short of the try-line. Carty also missed a kickable penalty.

And they were left ruing those missed chances when Dungannon collected two tries in the closing 12 minutes to hand Buccs their fourth straight league defeat.

Full-back Michael Lawton crossed the whitewash against the run of play. Then, in-form flanker Rowan Halsall edged ‘Gannon ahead four minutes from time, and Lawton supplied the extras.

Buccs had no answer and they had to console themselves with their fifth losing bonus point of the league run.

Their automatic promotion hopes now hinge on next weekend’s trip to the Aviva Stadium to face Lansdowne, who have moved above them into second place.

Scorers: Buccaneers: Tries: John O’Brien, Stephen Burke; Cons: Jack Carty 2

Dungannon: Tries: Stuart Lester, Michael Lawton, Rowan Halsall; Con: Michael Lawton

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