ON Thursday 23rd February the ‘David Allingham Forklift Safety Training’ sponsored Rainey ES Medallion travelled to Limavady GS in the Semi Final of the Northern Bank Medallion Schools Bowl.
This turned out to be one of their best performances of the season and one in which coaches Stuart Staples, Michael Sargent and Matthew McClelland saw all the hard training pitch work pay off in the game situation.
Rainey began playing into a slight breeze and had to be in top form because every error was punished with a long kick down field. They denied the home side good possession and worked very hard at the set piece. In the forwards, Connor Stobo and Callum Gilfillan were getting through ‘mountains’ of work in the tight. Limavady gradually got into a few attacking positions, but Neil Morton and Mark Allingham made tackle after tackle to keep them out.
After a period of sustained pressure Limavady got the first score of the game to lead 5-0. This score did not deter the Magherafelt boys and they continued to work really hard. Great defence by Eoghan Bradley prevented a second Limavady try. The half time whistle went with Rainey 5-0 behind.
The coaches reminded the squad at half time, that they had been in this position before in Enniskillen and it was important to have learnt a lesson from that day. Rainey started the second half determined to gain territory from which they could attack from. Intelligent kicking from outhalf Mark Rooney put in them in fine attacking positions. The local boys were beginning to get on top in the backs, and it was after a lovely move that Andrew Nicholl crossed in the corner to make the score 5-5.
Rainey now grew in confidence and went on the offensive again. The Limavady defence was holding firm. However, the second try came shortly, when Andrew Conway broke blind he made good ground, he was supported by Scott Campbell who was just hauled down short, but he offloaded beautifully to Calvin Smyth who scored under the posts. Mark Rooney kicked the conversion to increase the lead to 12-5.
But Limavady were not going down without a fight and they responded almost immediately with a try under the posts to level the score at 12-12. Rainey now knew that they could not afford to switch off. Undetered they went back on the attack. Anton Lupari and Timmy Shields up front were causing all sorts of problems with their storming runs.
With the backs really clicking, Rory Nicholl was making great breaks and causing the hosts real problems. He was being well supported by Matthew Carleton and Callan Bloomer, who both came close to getting away.
With less than 10 minutes on the clock, Mark Rooney put in a clever kick which forced Limavady to concede a 5m scrum. Great work at the scrum from Connor Brennan provided perfect ball for the backs. Matthew Mulholland came close, but after a number of phases Andrew Conway scored in the corner to give Rainey a 17-12 lead. Limavady came back strongly but the Rainey defence held firm.
The final whistle sounded to the delight of the large Rainey support, which really helped the boys on the day. This was another fantastic performance and result from the Rainey Medallion squad. They have made great progress this season which is testament to their attitude and work and that of their coaches. They know await the winners of Portadown College and Carrickfergus GS in the final, which will be played on the week beginning 3rd March.
Unfortunately, on Saturday 25 February the ‘P Keenan Road Surfacing’ sponsored Rainey ES 1st XV could not repeat the Medallion result and were defeated 15-3 by RS Dungannon in the Northern Bank Subsidiary Shield. The squad who had given everything against Methody in the 4th round of the cup found it difficult to get up for the match their performance that day. A more experienced RS Dungannon controlled large parts of the game, which meant Rainey found it difficult to secure first phase ball.
However, at 3-0 they were still very much in the game just on half-time. But a cruel bounce of the ball gifted Dungannon a try which give them a 10-0 half time lead.
They scored early in the second half to make it 15-0. Rainey came back into the game midway through the second half. Martin Connolly kicked a penalty to make it 15-3 and although they pressed the visitor’s line they could not force another score.
The Under 13s and Under 14s travelled to Carrickfergus GS for the normal block fixture. Both came away with convincing wins. The U14s won 46-0 with tries from James McGurk (3), Anton Lupari (2), Matthew Mulholland, Stuart McCulloch and Michael Lynn. Lorcan Quinn kicked 2 conversions and Matthew Mulholland one.
The U13s won 62-0 with tries from Matthew Porter (4), Joshua Henry (2), Adam Currie, Todd Smith, Mark Mulholland and Adam Patrick. Adam Patrick kicked 4 conversions and Morgan McNulty 2.
The Under 12 A and B teams travelled with the Medallion and played Limavady GS. The A team lost 28-19 with tries from Stephen Greer (2) and Matthew Smyth. The B team won 40-15 with tries from Thomas Boyle (3), Pierce McLarnon (2), Cailin Irvine, Sam Hardy and Gregory Conway.
This week’s fixtures are against Coleraine AI. The 1st and 2nd XVs are at home with 10.30am kick offs. The Medallion, U14 and U13 squads are away. Also this week, on Thursday 1st March the 2nd XV travel to play Lurgan College in the Northern Bank 2nd XV Plate. (Kick Off 2.30pm)