By Michael Silke
Buccaneers lost for the first time this season, going down 36-13 to Naas in the opening round of the All-Ireland League Division 1B on Saturday.
Buccaneers had four AIL debutants in their starting 15 including teenage duo Michael Hanley and Colm Reilly at halfback while Torin Rensford and Owen Treacy stepping up a level in the home pack.
Meanwhile Naas had seasoned campaigners Johne Murphy, Fionn Carr, Paulie Tolofua and Adam Coyle in their side.
The visitors were quickly into their stride, Peter Hastie finishing off smart early play for an unconverted try after just two minutes.
Buccs replied almost immediately with a Callum Boland snipe but Peter Osborne got across to deny Rory O’Connor grounding the centre’s chip ahead.
A wild Tolofua tackle on Rensford yielded a penalty which Hanley converted sweetly from the 10 metre line to open Buccs account at the end of the first quarter.
The Athlonians were then punished when a clearance went directly into touch. This gave Naas a foothold on the right and, when possession was transferred to Andrew Ellis, the imposing winger
swatted his way through a number of porous tackles for a soft 26th minute try which Osborne converted from left of the uprights for a 12-3 lead.
Seven minutes later Rory Moloney’s rampage forward earned a penalty just inside the opposition’s 22.
Reilly snappily tapped and hared over the line to catch the visitors’ napping and Hanley duly converted this enterprising try.
This score instilled belief and energy in the homesters but they were to rue not being able to add a brace of tries in a lively finish to the half.
A clever angled kick by Reilly forced the Kildare men to concede a lineout close to their line. O’Connor quickly threw the ball in to Boland but the combined efforts of Fionn Higgins and Ross
Bailey-Kearney held him out.
Half-time arrived with Naas leading 12-10. Two minutes into the second half, another high tackle earned a penalty which Hanley calmly struck between the posts to put Buccaneers 13-12 ahead.
However, five minutes later, John Sutton was singled out for a visit to the sin bin as Buccs brought down a maul close to their line.
Naas promptly added further discomfort when Osborne broke from the base of a scrum to dive over for a 49th minute try which he also converted.
Referee Oisin Quinn finally flashed yellow to Naas just before the hour mark when he binned Coyle due to an accumulation of infringements by the visitors.
But it was Naas who struck for the next score when the powerful Ellis careered through for his second try. Osborne converted this bonus point try and he added a 70th minute penalty to ease his side further ahead 29-13.
Shortly afterwards Rensford was yellow carded for a clumsy tackle (yet Naas had five penalties for high tackles awarded against them but, despite two chats with their captain, no sin binnings resulted) and in the final minute Cillian Dempsey was mauled over the line for a try converted by Osborne that completed Naas’ 36-13 winning margin.
Buccaneers: G.Lynch, R.O’Connor (T.McGann 69), C.Boland, A.Wynne, D.Corbett, M.Hanley, C.Reilly, M.Staunton, J.Sutton, N.Farrelly (H.O’Reilly 32 (N. Farrelly 49) (H.O’Reilly 71))), T.Rensford, E.Galvin, O.Treacy (E.Maher 45/57), R.Moloney (c), S.Meagher
Naas: F.Higgins, A.Ellis, F.Carr, R.Bailey-Kearney (P.Dargan 69), J.Murphy, P.Hastie, P.Osborne, C.Doyle (J.Barry 71), G.Reynolds (C.Duff), A.Coyle, M.Russell (R.Casey HT), D.Benn, C.Dempsey (R.Campbell ht), W.O’Brien and P.Tolofua (c)
Referee: Oisin Quinn (IRFU)