THE ALL Ireland Division 2B certainly heated up at the weekend as Banbridge had to settle for a losing bonus point after a trip to Drogheda and Rainey blitzed Suttonians in a stunning six try blitz.
Banbridge are strongly tipped for the title and this superb victory left Rainey joint top of the table with Cashel. This weekend, Hatrick Park plays host to Banbridge, who will know that they need a positive result to stay in the title race.
Rainey took just thirty minutes to seal a bonus point against their Dublin visitors and despite losing their shape in the final stages, they grabbed a sixth and final try to give them a comfortable 35-10.
The rain relented just before kick-off time at Hatrick Park where Rainey had a stiff wind behind them in the first half. A long kick over the top from scrum-half Sciascia put Rainey in an attacking position and a half break by out-half Martin might have produced more.
Suttonians managed to retain possession in the face of some top rate Rainey tackling to reach the home 22’, but missed a kickable penalty and were soon back in their own 22’ where slow ball from rucks prevented Rainey from making the breakthrough.
After 16 minutes the home crowd finally had something to shout about. Centres Montgomery and McMurray did well to set up a ruck twenty yards out and with numbers on the left, right-wing Wilson came across to pick up an easy try.
Six minutes later, Rainey’s prospects received a welcome boost when the referee somehow failed to spot an obvious forward pass and second-row Dawson touched down in the corner.
On the half hour, Rainey struck again with the aid of another debatable decision. From a five metre scrum, Rankin and Sciascia sucked in the Suttonians cover to create an opening for Boyle. Martin converted.
Two minutes later they were celebrating their fourth try. From a scrum on the 22’, Hawe picked up and fed Sciascia, who just managed to hold the pass and send flanker Heaney in.
Suttonians were now staring down the barrel and their cause was not helped when they had a player yellow carded in time added on for a high tackle.
Martin’s kick left Rainey 25-0 ahead.
A forward pass denied Heaney when back-row colleagues Hawe and Shiels split Suttonians wide open after a strike against the head. Suttonians looked lively for a spell, but the Rainey tackling continued to impress with skipper Hawe setting the example and they almost scored again when Sufferin set Shiels racing clear.
He looked sure to score, but was overhauled and Dawson could not hold his high pass infield. Another Suttonians player was sin-binned before Hawe claimed try number five. Sciascia carelessly put a penalty to the corner dead, but, from another heel against the head, he atoned by darting down the narrow side to pop up a scoring pass to the supporting captain.
Mistakes started to creep into Rainey’s play as a plethora of switches caused them to lose concentration. Suttonians made the most of this to run in two tries, the second a pushover.
But after being on the receiving end, the Rainey pack produced a big scrum which paved the way for their last try. Full-back Clarke fed Campbell on the touchline and his little chip ahead was eagerly snapped up by Shiels, who took it on. Campbell and Clarke handled again with Sciascia arriving to finish off in style.
Suttonians threatened to pick up a consolation try in injury time when full-back Farrell joined the line at pace, but Clarke managed to intercept and clear to touch.
Team : A.Clarke, P.Wilson, W.Montgomery, D.McMurray, J.McBride, G.Martin, P.Sciascia, S.McDowell, S.Sufferin, P.Boyle, D.Dawson, N.Rankin, M.Shiels, P.Heaney, S.Hawe.
Replacements: A.Campbell (McMurray 50) R.Hall (McDowell 50) A.Harbinson (Hawe 62) R.Hill (McDowell 67) K.Donaghy (Sufferin 67) S.Hawe (Heaney 70)
Other Division 2 B results : Ards 20-18 Wanderers; Barnhall 36-11 Armagh; Boyne 17-10 Banbridge; Highfield 35-16 Connemara; Naas 13-30 Sligo; Nenagh 17-6 Sunday’s Well; Navan 0-32 Cashel
Division 2B - fixtures for Saturday
Ards v Cashel; Armagh v Boyne; Highfield v Naas; Nenagh v Navan; Sunday’s Well v Connemara; Suttonians v Barnhall; Wanderers v Sligo
Mallusk-based side Ophir made their first appearance in Magherafelt for many years when they met Rainey O.B. 2 in a Conference 4 fixture at Meadowbank.
Rainey won 23-3 with three well-taken tries from flankers McGuckin and McIvor and centre McClelland. Devlin added two penalties and a conversion. They turned in a committed display throughout, putting points on the board early in the game and defending stoutly as ground conditions deteriorated.
At Rifle Park, Banbridge 5 defeated Rainey O.B. 4 in a game that Rainey looked set to win after 25 minutes.
The Fields/Lee management partnership are adhering to their recruitment policy and they would have been well pleased to lead 12-0 after 25 minutes with the prospect of having wind advantage in the second half. But their inexperience was obvious in the second quarter as they conceded a couple of soft tries to turn round 22-12 in arrears. The second half was scoreless.
Enterprising back play led to the opening try for centre McElhone and Rainey were on cloud nine when full-back McVey crossed with Walker adding the points. Then things turned pear shaped. They had plenty of possession in the second half, but were unable to apply the finish when presented with chances.
Results - Saturday 26 Nov.
Conference 4: Rainey O.B. 2nd XV 23 - 3 Ophir
Minor South: Banbridge 5th XV 22-12 Rainey O.B. 4th XV
Rainey Fixtures - Saturday 3rd December
1st XV v Banbridge (H) 2.30 pm
2nd XV v Virginia (H)
3rd XV v Ballymoney 3rd XV (A)
4th XV v Omagh 4th XV (A)
200 Club - Latest Winners - Alistair McGowan and Graeme Clarke.