Rainey Old Boys travelled to Hamilton Park in Newtownards on Saturday for their first competitive match of the new season.
With several new players on show and with new coaching personnel in place both teams were keen make a positive start to their respective campaigns.
The Ulster Senior League provides ideal preparation for the All Ireland League and with Rainey having been promoted everyone is aware that a tough season lies ahead.
Playing against a strong breeze in the first half Rainey started brightly and in the first few minutes were held up over the Ards line and unlucky not to get on the scoreboard. However, it was Ards who were first to score with a converted try against the run of play it was followed shortly after by an Ards penalty making the score 10-0.
Rainey were enjoying plenty of possession however some early season rustiness and wrong options were causing frustration for the large crowd of travelling supporters. On 35 minutes Rainey introduced Hall and debutant Caithness for Donaghy and captain OKane and with Magowan and Mulholland to the fore some good handling resulted in McMurray scoring under the posts. O’Connor’s conversion made the score at half time 10-7 to Ards.
The second half started with Rainey putting pressure on the Ards try line and after several penalties captain O’Kane crashed over with 4 minutes on the clock to give Rainey the lead for the first time. The conversion by O’Connor made it 10-14. A few minutes later Magowan, who had impressed all day, scored under the posts. The resultant O’Connor conversion brought the score to 10-21.
Continued Rainey pressure brought another try, this time for new recruit Fleming at scrum half, however O’Connor failed with the conversion. With the bonus point now in the bag Rainey allowed Ards back into the game and they scored an intercept try which was converted to make the score 17-26.
Rainey making good use of their bench introduced Jody McMurray for his younger brother Damien and with 10 minutes to go O’Connor scored with a try which he then converted bringing the score to 17-33. New winger Stirling, who had played for the Seconds earlier, was next to score with his first touch of the match however the conversion was missed 17-38.
Ards then enjoyed a brief period of possession and scored their third try of the day from a tap penalty making the score 22-38.
However it was Rainey who finished the stronger a further try this time by Mulholland was followed by the score of the match for new second row Barclay after a move which went the length of the pitch, both tries were converted by O’Connor leaving the final score 22-52.
Next up for Rainey this Saturday is Armagh who will no doubt prove to be a stiffer test. However, with some players still to be introduced hopes are high for another good performance.
Saturday September 7
Ulster Senior League
Rainey v Armagh (2.30pm)
Rainey P5 will play at half time
Ballyclare v Rainey III (2.30pm)
Rainey P7 v Armagh (1.30pm)