A SUPERB scrummaging display by the pack, allied to the sorcery of dynamic scrum-half Peter Sciascia, helped Rainey Old Boys to a bonus point 31-14 victory over mid-table opponents Boyne at a sunny Shamrock Lodge,a result which keeps them on course for their highest-ever finish in the AIL.
The Drogheda club were a real handful in the first half, the pace, offloading and lines of running of their backs causing Rainey all kinds of problems. But gradually the bigger Rainey front-row made their mark and the bonus point was secured well before the hour mark.
Rainey opened well against the breeze, but missed a great penalty chance after only three minutes. Boyne then threatened, forcing Rainey wing Clarke into making a saving tackle.
Rainey were penalised, but the kick was missed. Barely a minute later, however, Boyne went 7-0 up with an outstanding try.
Without key back-row men Heaney and Shiels, Rainey retained possession well, Harbinson and O’Kane setting it up for Sciascia to move it blind where Boyne appeared to have adequate cover. But Clarke produced a lovely side-step to cruise in for a stunning try which Martin converted.
Boyne were soon back in the home 22’, but, from a Stewart take, Harbinson led a drive clear which earned them a morale-boosting penalty. Martin could not find the target from 35 yards as play moved from end to end.
Rainey’s away form in AIL rugby has usually been good and it had to be here, for the rugby played by both sides was most impressive. A little knock-on saved Rainey, but Boyne were not to be denied. When Rainey were slow to chase a relieving kick from their 22’, Boyne countered at pace and some great hands brought them a try at the posts.
Sciascia then stamped his class on the occasion in creating Rainey’s equaliser. Sweeping behind his backs on halfway, he picked up a loose ball to chip ahead along the touchline.
He got up well to challenge the cover and somehow managed to flick the ball up into the arms of supporting full-back Rodney Paul who went around to touchdown behind the posts.
In time added on Boyne piled on the pressure, but were eventually repelled by some inspired tackling.
Rainey sensed that they could get the upper hand by dominating in the tight and straight from the restart Martin and Sciascia presented them with the ideal field position. Dawson and Stewart had a go before a series of penalties and scrums ended with Sciascia nipping over close to the posts. Having gained a stranglehold, Rainey were in no mood to let go and Boyne had a forward yellow carded ,followed by a second a few minutes later.
In the 53rd minute Hawe darted over from a scrum for a fourth try. Boyne reached the Rainey 22’ only to concede a penalty and Rainey, now full of confidence, ran it out of defence to make good ground.
Some of Rainey’s lineout play did not go as planned, but with Dawson in commanding form, they made things difficult for the host club in this department.
They chose to take the points on offer when Boyne transgressed near their own posts and with fifteen minutes remaining introduced their four other replacements. Boyne looked sure to score as they tried everything they knew in the dying minutes, but Rainey managed to force them back with two men often hitting the ball carrier.
TEAM : R.Paul, A.Campbell, D.McMurray, W.Montgomery, A.Clarke, G.Martin, P.Sciascia, P.Boyle, S.McDowell, N.O’Kane, N.Rankin, P.Stewart, A.Harbinson, S.Hawe, D.Dawson.
REPLACEMENTS: R.Hall (Boyle 42)P.Wilson (Sciascia 66) M.McClelland (Campbell 68) K.Donaghy (O’Kane 68) S.Sufferin (Stewart 73) N.O’Kane (McDowell 75)
The favourites Queen’s University 3rd XV came a cropper at Dub Lane where Rainey O.B. 3rd XV ,trailing 17-12 at the interval, played a sound tactical game to win this semi-final 30-17.
They will meet Dungannon 4 in the decider at Ravenhill on 14 April.
Rainey struck first through centre McIvor, but Rainey played into Queen’s hands by kicking too long and permitting them to counter. The students went ahead with a try and a penalty before Rainey revised their gameplan. Experienced blindside, Campton put them back in front, full-back Moran adding the extras, but Queen’s ran in another try before the break.
The Rainey pack grew in stature as the minutes passed, hooker McCann found his jumpers Patterson and Walls with ease while prop McCann used his strength to great effect in the mauls.
The tackling was very good, with flanker Davis leading by example. McIvor intercepted for a crucial try as Queen’s messed up a clear chance of running out of defence and the boot of Moran kept the scoreboard ticking over.
Queen’s had two players sin-binned and a penalty to the corner enabled Walls to clinch the verdict for his side. League points were also at stake here, though, with games in hand, Queen’s should still top the division.
Fixtures for 31st March
1st XV v Navan (H) 2.30pm
2nd XV v Strabane (A) 2.30pm