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RAINEY Old Boys compete their AIL programme at Spafield on Saturday against a Cashel side which has won all fourteen of their games to take the title at the first attempt.Having cleaned up in Munster Junior rugby last season,the Tipperary South team were expected to challenge strongly. And the recruitment of a back-row trio from a higher level was just the boost they needed.They are worthy champions who should give a good account of themselves in Division 2 A.

Banbridge can clinch the other promotion spot at the third attempt, with Barnhall poised to take advantage of any slip-up. Rainey have a remote chance of a play-off place. They occupy fourth place, having scored an impressive forty - three tries in the competition and hope to have Michael Shiels back from injury. Either Wanderers or Ards face the prospect of playing in the Junior ranks next season.

Directions to Spafield : From M8,take exit 9 for Cashel. Cross over motorway bridge and take exit at roundabout for Cashel. First right after roundabout (prior to Minogue furniture store ) .Club on left, 500 m.approx.

Saturday’s game marks the last appearance in a Rainey shirt of overseas player Peter Sciascia.

The little scrum-half from Wellington has proved to be an inspired capture, making an immense contribution to the club in the last eighteen months or so. It is no concidence that his arrival on the scene sparked an upturn in the side’s fortunes and he quickly endeared himself to the Hatrick Park crowd.

One of the most talented players ever to wear the red and black, his vast array of skills will linger long in the memory. He will be a hard act to follow. His seven tries in the AIL this season, not to mention his cheeky drop goal against Armagh, have helped Rainey to their best ever finish in senior rugby, irrespective of the outcome of the Cashel game.

Rainey Old Boys were honoured to host a Junior Ulster XV last Wednesday evening, and while twelve tries may have been scored,this was never an exhibition match. There was a competitive edge to it, both sides fielding players who were keen to show what they could do.

This was one of a series of warm-up fixtures for the Juniors squad for the forthcoming Interpros and Rainey had a few guest players on view and they all made a favourable impression.

Ballymena’s South African centre Richard Ainsworth looked a class act, while Limavady schoolboys Aaron Rainey, Robert Lamberton and Stewart Hull slotted in comfortably at this level.

Versatile Cooke captain Jody McMurray operated on the flank on his return to his old stomping ground. All these players could feature in Rainey colours next season. Rainey won 44-22 ,scoring eight of the twelve tries. The Juniors had their moments and stuck at it to strike twice in the closing minutes.

An appreciative holiday crowd was treated to a very entertaining display of open rugby, with both sides intent on playing an expansive game on a firm, dry surface. In a whirlwind start, six tries were scored in the first 25 minutes, five of them by Rainey wing Campbell who finished off four of them, with full-back Wilson coming in to add the other one.

Play was of the highest standard, even when the intensity understandably dropped a little in the second quarter.

Rainey led 27-5 at the break.

The Juniors piled forward on the resumption, but the Old Boys defended well and broke upfield to create a superb try for lock Hall.The visitors replied with a well-taken try ,but scores from Lamberton and McMurray took Rainey well clear.

Supporters who are unable to travel to Cashel are encouraged to go along to Ravenhill where the Thirds meet Dungannon 3rd XV in the final of the Forster Cup (1pm). These two sides contested last year’s decider when Rainey came out on top. But he trophy was withheld when both sides were found to have broken competition rules.

Let’s hope the paperwork has been done properly this time.

Dungannon top Section 5 with only one defeat and will provide tough opposition. Rainey have a good mixture of youth and experience and have a potent looking threequarter line.They have been inconsistent in the league, but in beating Ophir 2 at home ( 25-7 ), Clogher Valley 3 away ( 43-10 ),Holywood 2 away ( 14-5 ) and the favourites Queen’s 3 away ( 30-17 ),they have stepped up to the plate.

Dates

Tues 17 April (at Portadown) : Nutty Krust quarter-final - Ballynahinch v Rainey (7.45pm)

Thurs 26 April : AGM.

Fri 4 May : Table Quiz ( Lourdes fundraiser )

Fri 11 May : Club Dinner.