Rainey ES 1st XV 22 Belfast Royal Academy 1st XV 3
In the rearranged Danske Bank Schools Cup game the ’P Keenan Road Surfacing’ sponsored Rainey Endowed School 1st XV hosted a much fancied Belfast Royal Academy side.
Unfortunately, and to everyone’s disappointment, the game had been cancelled on Saturday due to a water-logged pitch.
The extra few day’s added to the nerves and the players were delighted when the pitch was passed fit to play on Wednesday morning.
The game started at a frantic pace with both sides struggling to settle. Mistakes and over-eagerness at the breakdown dominated the opening exchanges. Both sides reverted to their kicking game to try and gain territory and force early mistakes.
The Rainey back three of Andrew Nicholl, Rory Nicholl and Mark Rooney dealt expertly with these kicks making Rainey very solid at the back. After 12 minutes BRA capitalised on a Rainey error when they were awarded a penalty which they kicked to go 3-0 up.
Neither team could attain superiority, although Rainey made some promising attacks. From one of these BRA were penalised, but the penalty attempt from Kieran Lynch just dropped short. On about 20 minutes however BRA were again penalised and Kieran Lynch made no mistake by converting to make the score 3-3. Rainey’s nerves were now starting to settle and they began to revert to their handling game.
Excellent work by Timmy Andrews at the breakdown produced good ball. When Rainey broke blind, Eunan Shaw took the ball at pace to break the first tackle. When he found himself in space he showed great composure and footwork to beat the fullback and covering winger to score a fantastic individual try close to the posts. Lynch converted to make to 10-3 to Rainey.
With half time approaching Rainey continued to apply pressure on BRA but their defence held firm.
In the second half, Rainey went on the attack and in the opening exchanges they controlled possession and territory. Mark Kavanagh had got the upper hand in the lineout and was providing some super ball for his team. Rainey pressed the visiting line but just could not get the vital score. Connor Brennan and Conal Murphy both went close after strong runs but the score remained 10-3.
BRA then came back into the game but the Rainey defence was too good. David McClelland in the middle of the field played a vital role in organising the defence. Scott Campbell also played an important role in keeping the BRA Number 8, and one of their danger men at bay. The Rainey backs also showed enterprise when Lynch, McClelland and Rooney attacked BRA from deep.
Clever kicking from Lynch and Rooney put BRA deep inside their own 22. From a lineout, Anton Lupari crashed the ball up and from the resulting ruck Eunan Shaw received the ball and made a storming run to break a number of tackles to score his second try. Kieran Lynch kicked the conversion to make it 17-3.
This score gave Rainey some breathing space and confidence. BRA had to open up now they were chasing the game but great tackling from Sam Hawe and Calvin Smyth stopped them in there tracks. From another fine attacking lineout Conal Murphy burst clear, he offloaded to Anton Lupari, the ball then went from fed Scott Campbell to Lynch to McClelland and Rigan Sanderson who finished an excellent team try in the corner. The conversion was missed but Rainey led 22-3.
BRA chased a consolation score but the home defence held firm.
Congratulations to the players on a fantastic result and performance. This was a real team performance, with the players performing at an intensity that BRA could not live with.
Rainey now progress to Round Three were they will play Down HS. This promises to be a tough game as Down HS defeated Lurgan College easily in the last round. However, if this Rainey team plays to their potential they could make it to the Quarter Finals.
The Danske Bank Round 3 game against Down HS is on Saturday 8th February at 10.45am.