TWO tries in the final quarter saw Rainey Old Boys come from behind to beat Queen’s University 27-20 in the First Trust Ulster League at Hatrick Park.
There may have been little at stake, but Rainey were keen to reduce the error count that has resulted in a loss of confidence and rediscover a cutting edge behind the scrum.
This they managed to do, with a committed, hard-grafting pack providing the foundations.
Rainey knew that their defence would be thoroughly tested by a fast Queen’s back division and it was their superb tackling that won them this game from which they picked up an unexpected bonus point.
With the breeze in their favour, Queen’s were soon in the Rainey 22’, but an overcooked lineout throw allowed Rainey skipper Hawe to relieve the pressure with a break up to halfway.
The Division 2 side should have scored when their winger created a clear overlap, but Rainey full-back Clarke was able to get in a saving tackle.
But two minutes later, high-scoring full-back Quinn joined the line and took a return pass to go in at the posts and add the extras.
Rainey were on level terms within a minute when out-half Martin chipped ahead in midfield, hacked on and gathered to score and convert.
After 21 minutes, Rainey ran a penalty for Martin to kick to the corner where a kind bounce helped centre McMurray to score. Martin, much more authoritative than of late, then charged down a kick to set off on a sixty yard run before being overhauled ten yards short.
The city side managed to up the tempo to move 14-12 ahead after 28 minutes with a converted try from Spence.
Rainey then put together a number of phases until they conceded a penalty in the Queen’s 22’ and the students ended the half in the home 22’, stretching a resilient Rainey rearguard to the full.
Martin had a chance to regain the lead for Rainey, but miscued his attempt at goal from long range.
Queen’s then took the points on offer when Rainey were penalised. Rainey did well to release Campbell down the wing, but Shiels was immediately decked on taking his infield pass.
Shiels,operating at No.8 and having possibly his best game of the season, made a little break in midfield before transferring to Montgomery, but, when the point of attack was switched, the ball went to ground.
Quinn kept the scoreboard ticking for Queen’s, but Rainey, showing great spirit, replied through Montgomery after some text book driving play and support from the forwards.
Martin converted, but his new goal kicking style let him down when he failed to make clean contact with another strike.
After 73 minutes, the Rainey pack, now in full flow, put the visitors on the back foot for Campbell to come across and pick up try number four and secure an unexpected bonus point.
The vital conversion was missed and it was a case of all hands to the pumps as Queen’s stepped up a gear in search of the winner.
Superb defensive work in midfield resulted in Boyle emerging with the ball to set up scrum-half Wilson for a welcome kick to the Queen’s 22’. In the last minute of normal time Martin found the target again, but Queen’s still had time to give the home crowd a few anxious moments.
Team : A.Clarke, A.Campbell, W.Montgomery, D.McMurray, M.McClelland, G.Martin, P.Wilson, S.McDowell, C.Donaghy, N.O’Kane, D.Dawson, N.Rankin, R.Hall, S.Hawe, M.Shiels.
Replacements : P.Heaney, P.Boyle, J.Cassidy, A.Harbinson, P.Stewart
It’s back to AIL business on Saturday when Naas make their third appearance at Hatrick Park. The sides have met on five previous occasions, with home advantage proving to be the key factor every time.
The Kildare men won 25-19 at Forenaughts last time, but despite beating Wanderers 15-3 two weeks ago, they are still in the bottom half of the table. Rainey will be going all out for a result that would keep the pressure on the sides ahead of them.
Fixtures for Sat 3rd March
1st XV v Naas AIL (H) @ 2.30pm
3rd XV v Clogher Valley 3rd XV - Forster Cup (A) or B.H.F.P 2nd XV - League (H)
4th XV v Cavan 2nd XV (A)