On a day when leaders City of Derry lost their fourth game on the trot and Dungannon moved further away from the relegation zone, strugglers Rainey and Bective Rangers met in a game which was of huge importance to both.
Rainey would have been slight favourites, based on their previous meeting, but it was the Donnybrook men who romped to a totally unexpected 39-6 winning margin against a woeful Rainey outfit who should take a long look at themselves after this debacle.
Trailing 14-9 at the interval, Rainey were still not out of it, but it was not long until they were. No doubt, they will be made to watch a video of this game at training this week to see just how spiritless they were.
While a few may escape criticism, too many will see why the home spectators may have felt that they were not even trying. Forwards Barker and O’Hagan often found themselves lacking in support and on too many occasions they had not nearly enough men in the rucks. Kicks were charged down and tackles missed, leaving Bective to run amok in the latter stages.
It may have been dry and bright, but a cold north-east wind blew at Hatrick Park where Rainey were without Damien McMurray and Darren Corrigan.
Rainey were first to threaten, but a crooked throw scuppered that opportunity. Yet they persisted with trying to hit the middle and tail all afternoon and subsequently struggled to win any decent ball out of touch.
When Martin misjudged a bouncing ball on halfway, Bective hacked on, but Rainey got back well and minutes later McIlroy made no mistake when Bective were penalised for not releasing.
Bective then moved the ball wide where out-half Martin was lucky not to get a yellow card for tripping an opponent who was cutting infield. They maintained the pressure to earn another penalty bang in front of the posts and, catching Rainey unaware, nipped over from close range for the easiest of seven pointers.
Things were soon to get more serious for Rainey when the referee failed to spot the knock-on which allowed Bective to counter from deep up to the home 22’. From an overthrow at the lineout, Bective reacted first and worked the winger-in move to perfection, leaving Rainey to watch as the try scorer cruised through to touch down beneath the posts.
McIlroy and Mullan combined and then it was McMurray and McIlroy. However, on each occasion the ball came back on the Bective side. A dashing midfield burst by O’Hagan gave the crowd something to cheer and two penalties from McIlroy reduced the deficit to 14-9 by the 36th minute. They pushed forward again on the whistle, but again failed to retain possession.
Rainey needed the next score, but made no headway and on 52 minutes came the try which ended Rainey’s hopes. After giving the ball away in midfield, they did well to scamper back to regain possession, but Martin’s clearance kick was charged down, gifting Bective the simplest of tries.
The Old Boys eventually managed to put together a few good phases, but could not get through a very sound defence and heads began to drop. McLean came on for Wilson at scrum-half as they started to empty their bench.
Probably the best Old Boys scrum of the game saw Bective somehow make ground only to be held up, but they scored from the next scrum and added two more as Rainey switched off totally.
Rainey Old Boys: J. McIlroy, A. Pittman, S. Derby, J. McMurray, N. Stirling, T. O’Hagan, J. Roe, N. O’Kane, T. Barker, R. McCusker, J. Lees, B. Mullan, P. Stewart. Replacements: S. McLean, K. Donaghy, M. McClelland, M. Caithness, A. McSwiggan.