There was disappointment for Rainey Old Boys on Saturday as they failed to convert their chances before succumbing narrowly to Skerries.
Rainey were more than a match for a much bigger Skerries pack, especially in the scrum, and deserved better, but the Fingal side returned home 24-18 winners to remain in the promotion race.
With several of their more experienced players again unavailable, Rainey had no option but to rely on their younger squad members whose confidence has been dented by lapses in a run of defeats.
Their spirit, however, has to be acknowledged. Their heads have never dropped and a number of tactical switches enabled them to keep trying and make Skerries look an ordinary enough side for much of the contest.
With the last kick of the match, Mark O’Connor sent a magnificent 45 yard penalty high and between the posts to earn his side a deserved losing bonus point.
Rainey dominated possession and territory in the opening quarter, but their back play was poor.
Dreadful handling and passing, allied to very poor ball retention, made life easy for the visitors, who celebrated their first visit to the Rainey 22’ with a converted try.
When Skerries dropped a ball, Rainey out-half Emerson broke away with support on both sides, but the chance was butchered and an ensuing penalty missed.
Centre Mc Cluskey led a footrush up to halfway and a well-placed kick from Martin put them back in the Skerries’ 22’.
O’Connor kicked a penalty and a spell of pressure should have resulted in a try, but the handling let them down and in time added Skerries worked their way upfield to score another converted try.
A controlled forward drive took Skerries deep into the Rainey 22’ where they failed to execute the next stage, but the game was as good as over moments later when Rainey prop O’Kane was binned for getting in the way in an offside position.
Skerries kicked to the corner and a try was almost a formality. The introduction of Ulster Youth scrum-half Cameron Fulton allowed Michael Pyper to move to centre and further changes were made as Rainey battled to retain their pride.
Hooker Joe Roe burst through from halfway to release O’Connor 30 yards out and the Drumsurn man was not to be caught.
Skerries replied soon afterwards when a long pass to the wing created the necessary gap.
Rainey seemed to have blown a chance when O’Connor kicked a penalty to the corner dead, but a great scrum gave them a second bite at the cherry for Boyle to score from a catch and drive. O’Connor converted.
Growing in confidence, Rainey moved the ball about with more conviction, although some of their decision making was dubious.
Their spirited display in the closing stages and O’Connor’s great kick at least gave the home crowd something to talk about in the clubhouse afterwards.
Team: G Martin, M O’Connor, N Stirling, R McCluskey, M Gordon, T Emerson, M Pyper, S Rutledge, J Roe, N O’Kane, R McCusker, T Woods, D Dawson, C Simpson, J McMurray.
Replacements: C Fulton, E Shaw, A Shaw, P Boyle.