The tension was unbearable in the closing minutes at Hatrick Park where Rainey Old Boys survived a late scare to beat Naas 25-19.
Rainey looked home and dry at the threequarter stage, but let their Kildare visitors back into and nearly paid the penalty.
While wing Stirling was ruled out, Rainey had some of their injured men back in action. The return of Fritz and McGowan greatly boosted their forward strength, with Heaney on the bench increasing their options.
The inclusion of Pyper at out-half after a long absence meant a reshuffle in the backs, but it proved to be a gamble worth taking.
The opening quarter was played out mostly around midfield with both sides guilty of making mistakes or giving the ball away.
Naas finally troubled the scoreboard operator after twenty minutes when a handling error by O’Connor led to a penalty award.
He atoned two minutes later with a great kick from a wide angle,but straight from the restart Aherne was handed another opportunity to put his side back in front.
With Boyle prominent and Martin sweeping up at the back, Rainey put together some flowing moves and from a lineout in the corner an ill-advised tap back at the tail gifted flanker Lees a try which O’Connor converted
Rainey were hard done by when a deliberate knock-on denied them what looked like a great chance. The culprit was not shown a yellow card and a penalty was not awarded either.
But, the next phase led to O’Connor making it 13-6. A now confident Rainey were moving the ball well and a little kick through from O’Connor had Naas scrambling back to their own line to deal with a dangerous situation.
The Old Boys kept the pressure on with a controlled maul taking them twenty yards and when an overlap appeared, wing Campbell went in for a try which left them 18-6 up at the interval.
A penalty two minutes after the break kept Naas interested,but Rainey,whose tackling was exceptional throughout,set them back again and Campbell was edged out after some great work by the pack.
On the hour mark,a line break by flanker Mitchell brought a penalty which was put in the corner. Fritz had a go as the forwards made the hard yards and when play was stretched, Pyper stepped inside to go in for a lovely try which O’Connor goaled.
Leading 25-9, thoughts immediately turned to a bonus point,but Rainey made the cardinal error of conceding the silliest of penalties straight from the restart. This gave Naas a lineout in the corner and the inevitable catch and drive try.
Aherne converted and then added a penalty as Rainey found it increasingly difficult to get the ball away cleanly from the set piece.
The number of rolling substitutions that they made up front no doubt added to their problems and as all the decisions seemed to go to the visitors, Rainey found themselves under pressure.
An obvious Naas knock-on was missed and an accidental offside at the front of a lineout gave Naas an injury time chance to engineer another catch and drive try.
But a knock-on gave Rainey the scrum which enabled them to clear to touch.
Rainey Old Boys: G Martin, A Campbell, S Simpson, D McMurray, M O’Connor, M Pyper, P Kidd, S Rutledge, G Fritz, N O’Kane, P Boyle, M Shiels, J Lees, C Mitchell, P McGowan.
Replacements: P Heaney, A Kirk, M Caithness, J Fleming, K Moore.
Division 2A results: Bruff 20-48 Galwegians; Derry 8-3 Ballymena; Barnhall 37-30 Banbridge; Old Crescent 12-13 Highfield; Seapoint 10-22 Queens; UCC 28-10 Cashel.
In the Minor League, two tries from wing Tiernan Walshe could not prevent Rainey OB 4ths from going down 19-10 to Clogher Valley 3rds at Hatrick Park.
Clogher held all the aces in the first half and led 12-0 at the interval.
Rainey created more chances after the break but Clogher played to their strengths to take the honours.
The club continues to prosper at underage level. Three squads- Under 13s, Under 15s and Under 17s- travelled to Judges Road to play City of Derry and all three returned home winners.
Saturday 18 January.
Harlequins III v Rainey III
Rainey IV v Banbridge V
Saturday January 25
Rainey OB vBarnhall.
Winter Barbecue (8pm)