Rainey ES welcomed Down High School in the semi-final of the Danske Bank Subsidiary Shield on Saturday.
In excellent conditions, the winners knew that a victory would send them to the Ravenhill final on the 14th March.
In front of a really large crowd the ‘P Keenan Road Surfacing’ sponsored-Rainey started strongly forcing Down deep into their own half. With Rainey dominating possession, forwards Wallace Bruce, Matthew Gordon and Andrew Nevin made a dent in the visiting defence.
A neat break by winger Adam Hunter was stopped illegally by the visitors and Lorcan Quinn was just off target with the conversion. The home side continued to attack and a neat break by Lorcan Quinn almost led to the first try.
The pressure however, did eventually tell. Andrew Hawe and Adam Thornton did the hard work close to the Down line and when the ball was recycled Lorcan Quinn reacted quickest to touch down. He was very unlucky with his conversion as it rebounded .
This try seemed to give Down a wakeup call. From the kick off they raised their game putting Rainey under pressure. Excellent defence from Rainey, in particular Captain Andrew Brown and Cameron Stewart, kept them out, but sheer determination got them a try in the corner. The visitors regained possession from the kick off and came at Rainey again, earning a penalty which they kicked to make it 5-8.
Rainey were finding it difficult to get their hands on the ball and with half time approaching Down scored and converted a second try to make it 5-15. With the whistle about to sound Rainey attacked. Anton Lupari broke the gain line and fed Mark Mulholland but good Down tackling kept them out.
RAINEY ES 10
DOWN HS 39
The second half started with Down kicking a penalty to make it 5-18. Rainey now knew they had to ‘throw caution to the wind’ and have a go at Down. This courageous approach almost got a couple of scores with Matthew Mulholland and Michael Lynn both making nice breaks.
But, when you are chasing a game mistakes can be costly. In the space of five minutes two Rainey mistakes cost 14 points. Down intercepted a pass and hacked a dropped pass, both which led to converted tries. Down now led 5-32.
To the tribute of the Rainey players they kept attacking Down. A jinking run from Matthew Smyth put the Magherafelt boys deep in the Down HS territory. After good from Neal Hastings and Anton Lupari, Cameron Stewart crashed over for a try. The score was now 10-32.
With time running out misunderstanding in the Rainey defence gifted Down a final try it was converted to give them a 10-39 victory.
Although on the day, Down HS deserved their win, the score line flattered them. While not at their best the layers players can be extremely proud of their effort and commitment. They never gave up and did their school proud.
Many thanks to the large crowd who turned up to support the team. Also thanks to the Rainey Rugby Parents Committee for all their hard work barbequing and manning Rainey Ruck Shop.