With images of the horror show against Bective Rangers still fresh in their minds, Rainey Old Boys had the task of facing Cork City top four contenders Highfield on Saturday.
This time they improved considerably to come within a few minutes of taking home a losing bonus point, but a Highfield try moved the scoreline on to 33-19 and took them back up to second place in the table, four points behind City of Derry.
This was ,of course, a rearranged fixture, the game on February 27 called off an hour before kick-off. Rainey’s best performance of the campaign was on November 28 when they beat Highfield 18-13, but a series of unacceptable displays elsewhere has left them now needing at least two wins from their last four matches to avoid a play-off.
A penalty try and a Paul Stack effort had Rainey reeling, but they clawed their way back into it, a try from Peter Stewart and a penalty from McIlroy leaving Highfield 14-10 ahead at half-time.
A further two tries kept Highfield on track, but Rainey competed well to at least restore some pride in the jersey, with full-back McIlroy landing three penalties to keep alive their hopes of a bonus point, but it was not to be.
A Dungannon v Rainey game always whets the appetite of the rugby enthusiast in Mid- Ulster and, with a lot hanging on the outcome of Saturday’s UBL game at Stevenson Park at 2.30pm, a bumper crowd is anticipated, despite the attraction of the televised rugby.
Dungannon have really turned their season around with eyecatching victories at Derry and Greystones, while Rainey’s capitulation to Bective Rangers has plunged them into trouble.
Rainey won a very poor game 22-13 at Hatrick Park in late October, but with No.8 McMahon back to lead the way, Dungannon will be a different proposition this time.
Rainey would hope to have Michael Pyper available for the closing weeks of the campaign.
U16 PREMIER LEAGUE
TITLE FOR RAINEY
Rainey Old Boys won the Premier Section of the U16 League with a hard fought 17-5 victory over Virginia at Hatrick Park.
The Ulster Branch has concentrated on the development of rugby in the cross-border counties in recent seasons with the result that teams from these hinterlands now feature regularly at a higher level.
Rainey had tries from Young,Conway and Lupari.with Lynch adding one conversion.
The game could have gone any way at a stage, but Rainey edged ahead in the last quarter and knew how to close the game out. They now look forward to the cup.
RAINEY II 20
DUNGANNON II 26
With coach Damien Campbell on duty in Cork, Philip Lee stepped into his old position when Rainey II met Dungannon II in a Junior League game.
While obviously disappointed at losing a game that could have been won, he was more than pleased with the commitment and quality of performance of his young side.
With their 1st XV having no fixture, the Stevenson Park side had a much stronger squad from which to select and it was the sheer weight of their pack which helped them over the line for a late victory.
Rainey played some great rugby at times and scored three excellent tries which should have been enough, but they conceded a late penalty which handed the visitors another chance to force their way over.
Dungannon led 12-5 at half-time in the Hatrick Park sunshine, Rainey’s try coming from hooker Gavin McGuckin.
Wing Aidan Walsh then finished off a sweeping move launched by flanker Shaw.They sought to play expansive rugby at every opportunity, but Dungannon struck again with a fine chip and catch along the touchline to lead 19-10.
Captain Paul Dillon then provided the extra man out wide before stepping inside to narrow the deficit again. They led for the first time when out-half Murphy kicked a penalty,but they threw it away by putting themselves under unnecessary pressure.
Rainey II are away to Ballyclare II next while Rainey III take on Donegal Town.