Sligo beat Dolphin to go a step closer to play-offs.

Sligo RFC 23
Dolphin RFC 0

Round 13 of the 2023/24 Energia All Ireland League Division 2B saw Porter Ford sponsored Sligo RFC welcome Cork City based Dolphin RFC to Hamilton Park on Saturday.

Sligo were looking to continue their recent run of form, by making it three wins in a row and galvanizing their challenge for fourth position in the league to secure a spot in the promotion play offs.

With the visitors providing a strong challenge, particularly in the all-important front row positions where they held a significant size advantage, Sligo had to use all their rugby smarts to overcome the opposition and to their credit ran out comfortable winners in the end.

In Horse Racing terms the track would be described as ‘Yielding’ as the teams lined up for the kick off.

Dolphin kicked off playing towards the mountain end and immediately looked to bring their massive ball carriers into play and the Sligo defence had to withstand a sustained onslaught for the opening quarter.

Sligo eventually lifted the siege and began to impose their more expansive game on the visitors. A Julian Leszczynski penalty from the 10-metre line opened the scoring after 30 mins but the scorekeeper remained untroubled for the remainder of the half.

Following the resumption Sligo lifted the tempo and struck a telling blow with only 3 minutes of the half gone. Euan Brown collected an attempted clearance outside the visitors 22 and countered back into the 22. James O’Hehir carried hard into the defence ably supported by Tom Gormley and Archie Maclean. From the ruck Brendan Cunningham moved the ball left to Leszczynski. The outhalf fed Ryan Feehily who put in a delicate chip to the edge in front of the onrushing Philip Carter. Carter brilliantly held off the challenge of the defender and managed to flick the ball back inside to the supporting Ethan Faitua who crashed over for the try.

Sligo continued to press and moved the score to 11-0 with a second Leszczynski penalty on 50 mins.

The visitors were now struggling with the Sligo tempo and some fine expansive play brought Sligo from their 22 to inside the Dolphin 10 metre line. Cunningham switched play back to the right and a perfectly timed run from Hooker Ben Hynes split the defence outside the 22. Hynes kept going and pinballed his way through two defenders before touching down at the left post. Leszczynski added the extras and Sligo were 18 points clear.

Sligo’s third try came with 13 minutes remaining. From a 5-metre scrum on the left-hand side. Ambrose Bamber fed Cunningham who moved the ball infield. Feehily and Leszczynski combined cleverly to give Brown space to time his pass to allow Finn Bamber to race in at the right corner to seal the win for Sligo.

The Yeats men went hunting for the bonus point score but to the credit of the visitors they refused to buckle and played to the final whistle denying Sligo the fourth try.

Sligo now sit comfortably in the playoff position with a nine point gap beneath them to their nearest rivals Rainey RFC. Coaches Paddy Pearson and Jarlath Naughton will be delighted with the form their team are showing and in particular with players such as Brian West who is playing his best rugby ever and Captain Matthew Earley who has more than filled the gap at Prop forward in the absence of Kuba Wojtkowicz who is away on international duty with the Polish national squad. Gary Duffy also made a welcome return to the squad following a spell on the sidelines with a foot injury.

Next for Sligo is a trip across the country to lock horns with Malahide RFC . The match kicks off at Estuary Road at 2:30 next Saturday.

Sligo; Euan Brown, Finn Bamber, Ethan Faitaua, Ryan Feehily, Philip Carter, Julian Leszczynski , Brendan Cunningham, Matthew Earley, Ben Hynes, Tom Gormley, Archie Maclean, Gary Duffy, Brian West, James O’Hehir, Ambrose Bamber. Reps, Eoghan Lang, Aidan Healy, Ciaran Cummins, Daire Byrne, Cathal Finneran.

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