THE towering grandstands of the Aviva Stadium provided a spectacular backdrop as Rainey Old Boys ran in two late tries to beat Wanderers 30-8 and come away with a hard-earned bonus point.
The bottom club contested well throughout and proved to be a tough nut to crack. Rainey, understandably, took some time to adapt to the 3G pitch at Lansdowne, but their patience was rewarded in the last fifteen minutes when they managed to pin the home side in their own territory.
A lively Wanderers, obviously keen to impress their new coach, looked the part in the early exchanges as they enjoyed territorial supremacy. Rainey defended well but some loose kicking made their task more difficult.
Sciascia broke out of defence to link with Shiels, but a silly penalty was conceded when the support arrived. Play swung from end to end as turnovers gave both sides opportunities to counter and two mistakes were to cost Rainey as Wanderers opened the scoring after 12 minutes.
A relieving penalty which failed to find touch allowed Wanderers to move it across the field and Rainey tackling proved ineffective as left-wing South cut inside for an unconverted try.
Rainey were able to up the tempo and a little kick through by Sciascia brought them a penalty and a catch and drive opportunity which was wasted when the Wanderers again turned over ball .But when Wanderers heeled, the mercurial Sciascia robbed his opposite number in a flash to dot down for a timely try which out-half Martin converted.
Towards the interval Rainey piled on the pressure, but Wanderers defended with resolve, even if they looked suspiciously offside on several occasions. Now playing the expansive game which they like, they switched direction nicely to create a chance, but a man and ball tackle saved the day for Wanderers.
A minute after the restart, Wanderers missed from 46 yards and five minutes later Martin edged Rainey further ahead when a supporting Rainey player was taken out without the ball.
Heaney and Boyle combined to keep Rainey going forward and Wanderers conceded a soft penalty when a chasing player had strayed in front of the kicker.
Martin duly obliged and Rainey were able to breathe more easily when a 57th minute try put them 20-5 ahead.
From a ruck on halfway, Sciascia kicked into space for wing Clarke to easily win the race for the touchdown. Martin converted with a fine kick.
A very plucky Wanderers side, which played well above their lowly position, then tested the Rainey defence which held firm. A kick through travelled too far,but more pressure brought a penalty which was kicked.
A good take from a high ball by McMurray proved to be Wanderers’ final throw of the dice as Rainey began to sense victory and play some of their best rugby.
Heaney,Harbinson and Boyle powered forward to force a penalty. They opted for a scrum from which Sciascia sent Heaney over with an inside pass.
With three minutes of normal time remaining, Rainey now set their sights on a bonus point and Montgomery made a little break to put them on the front foot.
An accidental offside decision spoiled a great catch and drive situation, but in the last play of the game Montgomery countered from a hurried clearance and popped up again when play moved back acrossfield to send McMurray in for what could prove to be a very important try.
Team : R.Paul, A.Clarke, W.Montgomery, D.McMurray, J.McBride, G.Martin, P.Sciascia, S.McDowell,S .Sufferin, P.Boyle, D.Dawson, P.Heaney. M.Shiels, S.Hawe.
Replacements : A.Harbinson (Shiels 35) R.Hall (McDowell 57) K.Donaghy (Sufferin 66) P.Wilson (Clarke 78)
The AIL campaign resumes on Saturday 26th November.
.Rainey have home fixures with Banbridge and Armagh before travelling to Sligo on 10th December.
Fixtures for Saturday 12th November
1st XV v Instonians - Ulster League (A) 2.30 p.m.
2nd XV v Instonians 2 - League (A)
3rd XV v Academy 2 - (H)
4th XV v Ballynahinch 7 - (A)
Rainey O.B. 4th XV 5-14 Ophir 3
This Minor friendly allowed both sides to try out things and give players more time to get used to the players around them. Although defeated, Rainey captain Stephen Fields can take a lot of positives from the encounter.
The Bradley brothers brought some badly-needed structure to the back division, Aaron returning after injury at out-half and Colm donning the boots for the first time at adult level.
Ophir had a much bigger pack and relied on this advantage in physique to see them home.
Preparations for the thousandaire night in the Parish Centre on Friday 18th November are going well. More details available at the club.