Buccaneers scored a 38-28 bonus point victory over leaders Galway Corinthians in their Connacht Senior League match played in ideal conditions under the Dubarry Park floodlights on Friday night.
Just six minutes were on the clock when Buccs opened the scoring a penalty punted to the left, possession was won with good recycling, the ball transferred to the opposite flank where Thomas McGann touched down with Michael Hanley converting.
Corinthians bulkier pack then pressurised the hosts with a series of close-in scrums that yielded a 15th minute penalty try.
Buccs responded swiftly following a move initiated by Shane Layden burst on the right and after Darren Browne was held-up, fellow front-rower Harry O’Reilly powered over for a 23rd minute try. Hanley adding two points.
Corinthians were level within four minutes, Craig Hansberry applying the finishing touch for a pushover try near the left corner. Simon Keller adding a splendid conversion to level the scores 14-14.
Five minutes before halftime, Mark McDermott rashly denied Hopkins a quick tap and go penalty and referee Karol Collins yellow carded the visiting outhalf.
Hanley’s resultant penalty brought Buccs close to the Corinthians line, from the lineout, the midlanders applied a spell of sustained pressure before the ball was popped back to Corbett who side-stepped Hansberry to notch a 37th minute try.
Hanley’s conversion rebounded off an upright and, in the final move of the half, Aditya Donovan evaded the fly-half’s meek challenge to send Micheal O’Reilly scampering away for a try.
Keller’s successful conversion completed the first half action at which stage Corinthians led 21-19.
Hanley made amends within two minutes of the restart, initiating a swift counter attack carried on by Rory O’Connor.
O’Connor linked up with McGann whose deft grubber kick unlocked the defence and Layden fastened on to the opportunity to ground the ball for a bonus point try converted by Hanley.
Rory Moloney replaced teenager Goncalo Catarino on 46 minutes but within four minutes he incurred a red card following the intervention of a touch-judge.
Corinthians added to the hosts problems with the ensuing penalty giving them a foothold in home territory, Rory Murphy dived over for a 52nd minute try converted by Keller for a 28-26 lead.
Graham Lynch was introduced for Hopkins as the hour mark approached, making an instant impact, his sniping break making good ground before off-loading to Corbett who scooted in for a 61st minute try.
Hanley’s conversion nosed Buccs 33-28 ahead but there was still a long way to go for the Athlone side’s depleted forces.
Staunton, James Kelly and Darren Buckley all entered the fray and it was Buccaneers who built momentum.
A magnificent scrum enabled Lynch to deliver a snappy pass to his left and Layden surged in for an unconverted 78th minute try to complete the 38-28 winning margin.
Buccaneers: S.Layden (c), T.McGann, R.O’Connor, C.Reid, D.Corbett, M.Hanley, F.Hopkins, H.O’Reilly, D.Browne, M.Murphy, R.Byrne, T.Rensford, S.O’Connell, G.Catarino, E.Galvin
Replacements: R.Moloney for Catarino, (46), J.Kelly for O’Reilly (58), G.Lynch Hopkin (58), M.Staunton for Murphy (68), D.Buckley for Browne (70) and G.Fallon
Corinthians: S.Keller, M.O’Reilly, A.Donovan, Dan Keane, C.McDonald, M.McDermott, J.Whyte, G.Noone, H.Wood-Hennessy, R.Murphy, C.Hansberry, C.Raftery, E.Byrne, M.O’Brien, C.Huxford.
Replacements: J.Noone, Daniel Keane, A.Broderick, J.Comer, P.Gavin, C.O’Sullivan, C.Delargy (all used).
Referee: K.Collins (Connacht).