CLUBS see the opening fixtures of the Ulster League as an opportunity to prepare for the start of the AIL and most will argue that performances are more important than results.
After two below par displays, Rainey know that they have a lot of work to do before Nenagh come north at the end of the month. A number of players are resting niggling little injuries, while many of those on duty are not doing themselves justice. Ball retention has to improve dramatically and the unforced errors tally must be drastically reduced.
While City of Derry were good value for their 40-18 victory at Hatrick Park, Rainey gifted them a couple of their six tries, five converted by out-half Peoples. Rainey showed in spurts what they could do, but all too often the supporting player could not hold on to the ball and any impetus gained was lost.
Rainey struggled to get their hands on the ball in the first ten minutes as Derry dominated and it took a good Rainey scrum to help them out of a hole. A quickly taken penalty brought Derry their opener before the first of five yellow cards was flashed for an innoculous offence.
They struck again when Rainey threw out bad ball instead of using the wind to relieve the pressure. Left-wing Logue was denied by the covering Campbell after a scorching run. An injury to centre Montgomery forced Rainey into a number of switches with O’Connor moving to out-half. He opened Rainey’s account after 28 minutes and as they finally began to show some urgency, a great chance was lost. Dysart, McCluggage, Campbell and Donaghy combined along the touchline, but Stewart could not hold the final pass. Right on the half-time whistle, O’Connor made it 14-6 from a wide angle.
Clarke and Lamberton gave the home crowd something to cheer about, but the handling of players in support undid their good work. Two missed tackles proved costly and when they opted to keep the ball alive under pressure rather than use the touchline, Derry made them pay again. Those tries from Patton, Funston and Logue left them 33-6 clear at the end of the third quarter. A penalty to the corner gave Rainey a good platform and after getting away with a fumble, they managed to recycle possession for flanker O’Neill to score. A careless final pass cost Derry a certain try, but, after being held up, Baird came into the line to break through at the posts. Rainey saved their best passage of play for the last two minutes, a series of drives and a little break by scrum-half McCluggage ending with Campbell crossing in the corner.
TEAM : M.O’Connor, A.Campbell, W.Montgomery, M.McClelland, R.Lamberton, G.Martin, R.Hill, K.Donaghy, N.O’Kane, P.Stewart, R.Mc Kernan, C.O’Neill, T.Barker, A.Harbinson. Replcements: A.Mc Cluggage, A.Dysart, A.Clarke, P.Boyle, S.Sufferin.
Rainey’s next outing is on Wednesday,September 12 at Stevenson Park where they play Shield holders Dungannon. K.O. 7.30p.m.