Rainey Old Boys 10 Barnhall 6
Previous meetings between Rainey Old Boys and Barnhall have been closely contested affairs,so it was always likely that their top of the table encounter at Hatrick Park would be a ding-dong battle.
And while it was no classic, the closeness of the score and the importance of the result kept the crowd on tenderhooks throughout.
Rainey took a battering from a taller and heavier Barnhall side, but stuck to their task with some superb tackling to get the verdict on a 10-6 scoreline.
With a try-scoring bonus point never on the cards, Rainey were happy to get the win while the Parsonstown men returned to Kildare with a losing bonus point.
Defending the Meadowbank end against a cold, stiff breeze, Rainey had to make an early change after only five minutes. Scrum-half McCluggage was unable to continue after picking up a knee injury, Simpson moving in from centre to perform a role in which he is quite comfortable.
When Rainey were guilty of bringing down a scrum, Barnhall kicked to the corner, but their catch and drive attempt left them frustrated. Rainey managed to cross the halfway line when Simpson found a gap, but flanker Harbinson was unable to take the offload on the burst.
Missing the presence of the injured McGowan in the lineout and under pressure in the scrum, Rainey relied on some excellent tackling around the fringes and along the three-quarter line to keep the visitors at bay, but their plans were further disrupted when both flankers Harbinson and O’Neill had to retire injured after 24 minutes.
Barnhall missed a 45 yard kick at goal, but Hopkins made no mistake on the half hour when the Rainey scrum was again disrupted.
Rainey then had a good little spell,the forwards keeping it close to the ruck,but Barnhall forced a penalty to increase their lead. O’Connor boosted Rainey’s hopes right on half-time, having just missed with a huge kick into the wind minutes earlier.Barnhall turned round with only aa 6-3 lead.
Rainey found several inviting field positions early in the second half, but were wheeled in the scrum and conceded penalties. Their chances improved when Barnhall had a forward yellow carded and Harbinson returned to the fray.
A great piece of skill on the ground from centre McMurray enabled Shiels and Campbell to threaten, but Barnhall survived only to loose a prop to the sin bin.
With a numerical advantage in the scrum, Rainey turned down kicks at goal to go for the try and were rewarded after 63 minutes when the forwards went for the line and Burns got the all-important touchdown. O’Connor converted.
Barnhall failed to take advantage when an O’Connor kick ahead went straight into touch and Simpson broke down the left where Clarke was helped into touch by a high tackle. From a perfect position in the corner, however, Rainey lacked control to squander a great chance of closing out the game.
Barker and O’Kane kept Rainey on top, but Barnhall patiently worked their way upfield again to show that they were still capable of snatching victory. The Rainey pack’s counter rucking and the tackling of the backs gave them chances to pin Barnhall back,but a succession of poor decisions kept the outcome in doubt right until the final whistle.
Rainey Old Boys: M. O’Connor, A. Campbell, D. McMurray, S. Simpson, A. Clarke, G. Martin, A. Mc Cluggage, S. McDowell, S. Sufferin, N. O’Kane, P. Boyle, T. Barker, A. Harbinson, M. Shiels, C. O’Neill. Subs: M. McClelland, P. Stewart, T. Burns, N.Amos and S. Rutledge
The next game is on November17 away to Connemara RFC
A club fundraiser for Macmillan Cancer Support will take place on Friday November 23. It was a great night last year,so note the date in your diary. Starting at 9pm.
200 CLUB - latest winners are Graffin Parke and Ernie Lee.
Ards II v Rainey OB II
Naas 27-12 Navan
Ards 31-13 Connemara
Armagh 45-20 Instonians
Boyne 24-17 Suttonians
Clonakilty 23-26 Sunday’s Well
Nenagh Ormond 18-5 Sligo
Thomond 12-12 Skerries