Gallant Rainey lose out to Cup favourites

POWER... Rainey power forward during last Saturday's Northern Bank sponsored School Cup clash with Methody.mm07-322sr Picture : SIMON ROBINSON.
POWER... Rainey power forward during last Saturday's Northern Bank sponsored School Cup clash with Methody.mm07-322sr Picture : SIMON ROBINSON.

Rainey 8 Methodist CB 25

DESPITE going down by 8-25 to Methody on Saturday, Rainey Endowed can be extremely proud of their performance against the Belfast giants.

Three home games in Magherafelt have saw the side produce gritty and hard working performances. So called local Schools Cup rugby experts gave Rainey little chance against BRA and many expected them to lose heavily to Methody.

Nonetheless, Methody will have gone back home knowing that they had been in a ferocious battle. The Schools Cup run may be over but Rainey will go into their Subsidiary clash against Dungannon with the hope of claiming silverware for the second year in a row.

In perfect conditions, in front of a very large crowd ‘P Keenan Road Surfacing’ sponsored Rainey ES 1st XV hoped to upset the form book and defeat the cup favourites Methody. This was going to be a difficult task for the boys, but one that they believed they could achieve. They had prepared very well for this game and couldn’t wait for the challenge.

Rainey started brightly and went on the attack. But early nerves caused a fumble in midfield, which gave MCB possession. They kicked downfield and from the attacking lineout caught and drove over to give them the lead. The try was converted to give them a 7-0 advantage.

Rainey pushed hard from the restart, but the strength of MCB gave them field position and from a penalty they extended their lead to 10-0. Although playing pretty well Rainey were making the visitors work hard. They however suffered a further setback when MCB scored their second try to lead 15-0. With 15 minutes gone Rainey were 15 points behind and the signs were not good.

This seemed to inspire the local boys because then they started to play. The pack began to win some good ball and the backs took advantage. For the next 20 minutes the home side probably edged the possession and territory battle. Conal Murphy and Jack McCalmont carried alot of ball effectively and this caused MCB problems. Arran Murphy was pulling the strings at outhalf and was behind a lovely move that resulted in Jamie Noble just being tackled in the corner.

Persistent Rainey attacks were very well defended by MCB, but after great work by Mark Kavanagh and Damien Devlin, MCB were penalised and Martin Connolly kicked a penalty to record Rainey’s first points.

The score was now 15-3. MCB always posed a real threat and Rainey had to be at their best in defence. The tackling from all the players was outstanding. Jonnie Lees, Captain Thomas Booth and their back row colleague Michael Dawson made big hit after big hit. With half time approaching Rainey produced a fantastic move of a scrum which saw centre John Stewart put Number 8 Michael Dawson in space and he was just hauled done short of the line.

The half time whistle went with the game evenly balanced at 15-3.

MCB kicked off in the second half, regained possession and showed their quality to score a fine converted try which increased their lead to 22-3. Many other teams would have folded at this point, but not this team. They knew they had an up hill task, but had the mental strength to stay in the game. Rainey really did up their game at this point. From the kick off they fielded the ball. Oisin Quinn worked really intelligently around the fringes and went the ball went loose on the MCB line Samuel Hawe was on hand to touch done. The score was now 22-8 and Rainey were back in the game.

The home side had MCB rattled and fantastic play by Chris Moffett and Ryan Brown almost produced a second Rainey try. Although the game was fairly evenly matched at this stage Rainey were making the cup favourites work hard for everything. With time running out the introduction of Diarmuid Devlin, Timothy Maxwell and Jonathan Kyle gave Rainey a lift up front. All three gave everything they had and made some vital tackles.

In the backs David McClelland and Matthew Stewart both gave Rainey new energy which helped immensely in the final quarter. With the game drawing to a close MCB kicked a penalty which extended their lead to 25-8. In the dying minutes Rainey still refused to admit defeat. Thomas Booth and Jonnie Lees displayed great courage in defence and Michael Dawson was instrumental in every Rainey attack.

The game finished with a very relieved MCB as 25-8 winners. Although beaten the Rainey boys deserve great credit. They pushed their highly fancied opponents all the way and displayed a team spirit that is second to none. As a team everyone involved with them are really proud of them. The boys also got a lift before kick off when Mr Simpson arrived. His presence and influence were very important on the day. Thanks are also due to Stewart McCalmont, Andrew Ferguson and Graeme Eastwood who have made a significant contribution to the squad throughout the year.

Saturdays other fixtures were against RS Dungannon. The three junior teams played excellently to record three wins. The ‘David Allingham Forklift Safety Training’ sponsored Rainey ES Medallion won 15-0, with tries from Conor Brennan and Andrew Conway and a conversion and penalty from Mark Rooney. This victory sets them up nicely for their trip to Limavady GS in the semi final of the Northern Bank Medallion Bowl.

The Under 14s defeated RS Dungannon 46-7, with tries from Anton Lupari (3), James McGurk (2), Sterwart McCulloch and Matthew Mulholland. Lorcan Quinn kicked 3 conversions. The Under 13s also won 42-8, with tries by Matthew Porter, Adam Currie, Joshua Henry, Jonathan Hanna and Adam Patrick. Unfortunately the 3rd XV lost 26-12 to RS Armagh in the 3rd XV Cup.