FOLLOWING a champagne display at Boyne, it was a case of flat beer time at Hatrick Park where Rainey Old Boys subjected their followers to an eighty minute rollercoaster of emotions before stumbling over the line 34-27 ahead of dogged visitors Navan, who returned home with two points, but will no doubt feel that they might have taken more from a poor quality game.
While Rainey managed to get the bonus point,t his was a curate’s egg of a performance if ever there was one. From the outset it was clear that the forwards were not up for this one.
They huffed and puffed throughout and it took the introduction of flanker Heaney to inject some life into the proceedings. Their lineout failed to function and Dawson’s efforts on the Navan throw were vital in the closing minutes as the Meath men threatened to spoil the party.
Peter Sciascia was given the honour of leading the side out on his last home AIL appearance for the club and the tone was set straight from the kick-off when the ball was allowed to bounce into touch and the lineout was lost.
After four minutes, full-back Paul’s little chip ahead fell perfectly for Campbell who did well not to put a foot in touch before running in from the 10’ line to open the scoring.
Despite losing much of their own lineout ball, Rainey stretched their lead when Stewart drove through the middle to force a penalty which Martin kicked.
Boyle was then taken out without the ball but no action taken and a Martin drop at goal sailed just wide, but another penalty made it 11-0 after 22 minutes.
However, Rainey were anything but convincing and Navan carved them open three minutes later to announce their intentions. Straight from the restart, they broke from a scrum and kicked ahead to earn a hotly disputed penalty. Rodney Paul was yellow carded for obstruction, but the penalty was missed.
When Dawson was caught encroaching, Navan kicked into the 22’ and from the lineout they poured through at the tail for a converted try which left them 12-11 up at half-time.
Martin regained the lead for Rainey, but Navan worked the short side well to run in another converted try. Clarke and Campbell then countered ,with Paul and Stewart lending support to send Hawe in for a try which brought the sides level at 19-19.
The ball was moved smartly out to McMurray, but he took the wrong option and from a turnover, Heaney surged forward to raise home hopes.
Scrum pressure earned them their fourth penalty, but once again, having taken a step forward, they took two steps back. A fourth try and a penalty on the hour put Navan 27-22 in front.
McMurray, O’Kane and Sciascia took Rainey to within striking distance and with ten minutes remaining, O’Kane took a short ball from Martin to go through at the posts.
Navan did well to come away from a dangerous field position, but could not prevent McMurray from popping up on the outside to score a bonus point try which looked highly unlikely ten minutes before-hand.
As play moved into injury time,Navan worked their way into the Rainey 22’, but the lineout work of Dawson and some better tackling kept them at bay.
Team: R.Paul, A.Campbell, W.Montgomery, D.McMurray, A.Clarke, G.Martin, P.Sciascia, P.Boyle, S.Mc Dowell, N.O’Kane, P.Stewart, N.Rankin, A.Harbinson, S.Hawe, D.Dawson.
Replacements: P.Heaney (Dawson 45) K.Donaghy (McDowell 58) D.Dawson (Stewart 72) R.Hall (Boyle 72) P.Wilson (Campbell 72) M.McClelland (Clarke 72)
In Conference 4,Rainey O.B. 2 travelled to Strabane, only to discover that vandals had littered the pitch with glass overnight. The points were awarded to Rainey.