After their recent horror show against City of Derry in the Senior Cup, Rainey Old Boys showed great character to bounce back with two fine victories last week.
Faced with a very difficult task at Judges Road on Saturday on the opening day of the Ulster Bank League, Rainey can be relieved that their rehabilitation is well under way and feel that they can travel to Derry with some confidence. Last Wednesday evening,at Shaw’s Bridge, they defeated Instonians 20-10 and then caused a shock by hammering Malone 30-5 at Hatrick Park on Saturday.
INSTONIANS 10 RAINEY 20
Sticking to their rotation policy in the build-up to the AIL, Rainey brought in five players for their first taste of competitive rugby this season.
One of them, scrum-half Alan Mc Cluggage, made a significant impact after Instonians had taken a tenth minute lead with a converted try and missed a very kickable penalty
The Rainey forwards gradually got going with replacements O’Kane and Lees involved in the play which brought them an O’Connor penalty after 35 minutes..
On the restart, wing Irwin led the chase when Martin kicked downfield and was ushered into touch near the corner when play moved back acrossfield. But from the lineout, Lees swooped at the tail, with O’Connor adding the points.
With Dawson bossing the lineout and Mulholland making inroads into the home defence, Rainey took over and Martin sent O’Connor away for a fine try. Instonians replied with a penalty, but a McCluggage break and a penalty to the corner produced a try for captain O’Kane.
With 25 minutes still to play, a bonus point looked a formality, but a few bizarre refereeing decisions and too much ball lost in contact caused the game to peter out in the closing minutes
RAINEY 30 MALONE 5
After trailing for almost the entire first half, Rainey grew in stature as the minutes rolled by to beat a strong Malone side 30-5 at Hatrick Park.
Both sides made unforced errors in the first quarter with Malone scoring from turnover ball on halfway after McCluggage had put Rainey ahead with a penalty.
Centre Jody McMurray made a strong break up the middle, but they had plenty of tackling to do as Malone enjoyed territorial supremacy. Rainey’s spirited efforts kept the Gibson Park men at bay and gradually the Division 1B side began to look very ordinary. Right on half-time, O’Connor made a break which led to second-row Shiels scoring a morale-boosting try which McCluggage goaled.
Rainey totally dominated the second half. O’Kane, Pyper and McCluggage linked to create a chance, but the finish was lacking. A kick into space looked promisimg until a wicked bounce embarrassed two closing Rainey players and almost let Malone away for a breakaway score.
O’Connor made it 13-5 when a Rainey player was tackled without the ball and a chip to the corner had Malone in desperate trouble. Young flanker Lees caught the eye as Rainey’s relentless harassing and tackling had Malone in a vice-like grip.
Out-half Pyper found a gap, but couldn’t get his pop-up pass away to his support, but O’Kane put his side in a commanding position when the Malone pack folded in a scrum leaving him to snap up the loose ball.
Jody McMurray earned his side a five metre put-in when he chipped ahead and poleaxed the visitors’ full-back beneath the posts.The pack walked the opposition over the goal line, but somehow failed to get the touchdown. O’Connor missed from close range, but McCluggage supported McGowan down the narrow side to grab try number three and add the conversion.
In the last minute,a good day for Rainey got even better when Shiels crossed for a bonus point fourth try.
Rainey squad: G. Martin, K. Moore, D. McMurray, J. McMurray, N. Stirling, M. Pyper, A. McCluggage, S. Rutledge, S. Sufferin, A. Kirk, P. B oyle, M. Shiels, P. McGowan, J. Lees, C. Mitchell, N. O’Kane, S. Mulholland, M. O’Connor, A. Clarke, M. Caithness, D. Dawson, M. Dawson, P. Heaney, J. Fleming, N. Irwin.
In the Second XV League, Rainey were short of several of their squad when City of Derry beat them 45-21 at Hatrick Park.
Full-back J. Cassidy, their best player on the day, flanker M. Dawson and centre N. Irwin scored Rainey’s tries.
In Junior 3, Rainey III beat Ballymena IIII at Eaton Park to get their programme off to a great start.
RAINEY MINI RUGBY FIRST HOME GAMES OF SEASON
Hatrick Park was invaded on Saturday morning by almost 180 mini rugby players, all keen to make an impact on the first day of home matches for P4-P7 teams.
Opponents travelled from Coleraine for the 10am kick off, that witnessed the start of a great season of play for all teams.
The focus of mini rugby is fun and that is certainly what was had by all. Match outcomes were mixed, with some of but lessons and skills were learnt by all.
The morning fixtures were rounded off with hotdogs and juice; welcome refreshments after a great set of games.
Thanks to all the players and parents for their support. Training continues at the Rainey Old Boys Rugby Club on Friday evenings 6-7pm for boys and girls in P1-P7, the perfect chance to come along and give mini rugby a try!