TIPPERARY South side Cashel celebrated winning fifteen out of fifteen games at a bright, but blustery Spafield to take the Division 2 B title by a fourteen point margin, but they would readily admit that they were rather fortunate to beat a fighting Rainey Old Boys team 20-17.
Rainey were the better side for much of this contest, but their inability to kick goals and guarantee lineout ball on their throw was to cost them and they and their supporters were infuriated by a succession of controversial decisions.
A number of Cashel players could well have been shown the yellow card in the first half for using every trick in the book to contain a lively Rainey side.
Three home players were sin-binned eventually as the away fans continued to vent their rage at the match official.
As it turned out, this result deprived Rainey of a play-off spot, but they can still be well pleased with their overall campaign in which they scored 46 tries.
In a bright opening, prop O’Kane punched a hole in midfield, but Shiels was unable to take Sciascia’s pass After nine minutes, Cashel kicked a penalty on reaching the Rainey 22’ for the first time. Eight minutes later, they struck again with a freak score.
Rainey won a scrum on halfway, but the ball squirted out and was snapped up by a Cashel back-row man whose path to the posts was wide open.
Rainey out-half Martin pushed a kick from 45 yards past the post and was tackled as he went for a high ball
.On several occasions they established good field position, but failed to get it right at the lineout. Their superior scrummaging helped them to force Cashel back and centre Damien McMurray broke a tackle to go in for a fine try after 26 minutes.
Sciascia then pushed through a little grubber kick and was obstructed, but the referee blew for a knock - on. Late in the half, Cashel conceded penalties to keep Rainey at bay, but when Sciascia delayed putting the ball into an unsteady scrum, he was quickly penalised, leaving them trailing 10-5 at the interval.
Seven minutes into the second half, a converted try from O’Kane gave Rainey a deserved lead and their ball handling at close quarters had Cashel reeling. Cashel regained the lead with a penalty before Martin was short with an attempt.
Cashel threatened for almost the first time as the game moved into the final quarter and they created an overlap on the right to score a good try.
Throwing caution to the wind, Rainey moved the ball about with confidence and might well have scored before a quickly taken penalty brought Sciascia a try after 73 minutes.
Rainey poured through the middle and moved it wide to earn a penalty which they kicked to the corner.
Unfortunately, their lineout play let them down again.
Team: R.Paul, A.Campbell, D.McMurray J.McMurray, A.Clarke, G.Martin, P.Sciascia, S.McDowell, P.Boyle, N.O’Kane, D.Dawson, K.Donaghy, A.Harbinson, S.Hawe, M.Shiels, P.Stewart, R.Hall, N.Rankin.
In the Forster Cup Final at Ravenhill, Dungannon 4th XV beat Rainey O.B.3rd XV by 20-17 .Rainey dominated for spells and posed the greater threat behind the scrum, but Dungannon’s forwards, some with experience of the Towns’ Cup this season, ruled the roost in the lineout to close the game out in the last fifteen minutes.
An early try saw Dungannon lead 5-0. After a penalty miss, Rainey scored through out-half Walls, full-back Moran converting.
As Rainey continued to miss kicks at goal, Dungannon scored a try and added a penalty to lead 15-7 at half-time.
A try, conversion and penalty from Walls left Rainey 17-15 ahead, but the Dungannon pack engineered a try in the corner to edge ahead again.
Wing P.O’Neill made some strong runs as Rainey went all out for victory, but a forward pass ruined a great move involving centres McIvor and McNamee which probably would have turned the game in their favour.
Long-serving Robert Paul came off the bench to end his career in a Rainey jersey.
April 21 - Conference 4 - Armagh 2nd XV v Rainey O.B. 2nd XV @ Palace Grounds.
Dates to note - Thurs.26 April AGM , Friday 4 May - Table Quiz , Friday 11th May - Club Dinner