Rainey Old Boys have scored a very creditable 34 tries from 14 games in their first season in Division 2A of the AIL, but their defensive frailties have been highlighted by better opposition, with the result that their points against column does not make pretty reading.
Second in the table Ballymena were the latest team to expose their weaknesses when they beat the Old Boys 43-14 at Hatrick Park to keep their hopes of a quick return to Division 1B very much alive.
The class of Ulster players Andrew and Shanahan was simply too much for a Rainey side that had plenty of possession and territory, but lacked the linebreakers to turn pressure into points.
Rainey were short of Sterling and O’Connor while Ballymena had their Ravens representatives on duty to make them formidable opponents.
They started well and were held up before another succession of phases ended when the ball was spilled in front of the posts.
Ballymena soon warmed to the task with centres Irwin and James exploiting gaps and No.8 Mitchell did well to intercept on the retreat.
Ex-Leinster Academy scrum-half Shanahan then began to impose himself on the game with his sharpness and elusiveness marking him down as definitely one for the future.
He darted through to open the scoring after 17 minutes and on the half hour full-back Andrew cruised through from his own half with out-half Bailey adding the points to make it 12-0.
Rainey enjoyed territorial supremacy for much of the half, but lacked the quality of the visitors.
Two tries in two minutes gave Ballymena their bonus point and ended the game as a contest. A sweeping move saw them held up beneath the posts and, despite being driven back by a great Rainey scrum, No. 8 Hamilton had the strength to force his way over after picking up on the retreat.
From the restart, they poured right up the middle of the park with great support play helping Irwin to a try which Shanahan converted.
To their credit,Rainey did not lie down and a penalty to the corner gave them a field potition from which hooker Fritz opened their account. Simpson converted.
Shanahan then spotted a big gap in Rainey’s fringe defence to romp home from a ruck forty yards out.
After 65 minutes Rainey won ruck ball deep in the Ballymena 22, but Andrew nipped in to steal possession and streak the length of the pitch for a dramatic score which replacement McMullan improved.
Rainey replied with a series of attacks before scrum-half Kidd scored from close range.
Ballymena had the final say with their back-row and Shanahan sweeping upfield only to be held up.The pressure told with second-row Smyth easily brushing off would-be tacklers to complete the scoring.
Team: G Martin, J McMurray, D McMurray, S Simpson, J Cassidy, M Pyper, P Kidd, S Rutledge, G Fritz, N O’Kane, P Boyle, M Shiels, P McGowan, J Lees, C Mitchell. Replacements: A Kirk, D Dawson, K Donaghy, T Woods.
Other Division 2A results: Bruff 0-31 UCC, Derry 18-12 Seapoint, Naas 20-11 Highfield, Barnhall 10-10 Queen’s, Old Crescent 5-16 Cashel, Old Wesley 31-31 Banbridge.
In the Second XV League, Queen’s II, who had already won the title, had several guest players on view as they defeated Rainey OB II at Hatrick Park.
Full-back Dillon kicked a penalty for Rainey who trailed 17-3 at half-time. They gave a good account of themselves for most of the game, their tries coming from Dillon, scrum-half Quinn and wing Donaghy. Dillon added two conversions.
Rainey III v Queen’s III