Naas 23-31 Rainey OB
With their strongest side on the field for the first time in some time, Rainey Old Boys beat a very capable Naas side 31-23 at Forenaughts.
It was Rainey’s first ever win at the Kildare venue where conditions were just about ideal for what turned out to be a very entertaining contest.
With other results going their way, Rainey now find several teams below them in the table.
Ace place-kicker Mark O’Connor celebrated his return from an extended break in the south of France with a personal tally of 21 points which gave his side a great chance of securing a bonus point.
But the set-piece work of the Naas eight and the strong running of centre Bryce and battering ram replacement flanker Timoteo were to deny them in the last 15 minutes.
For the fourth game running, Rainey conceded a try within minutes of the kick-off.
From a first minute lineout, the ball came back on the Rainey side, but the Naas pack were able to win possession on the ground and spread it wide.
Rainey appeared to have sufficient cover to deal with the situation, but a Naas player was allowed to work his way clear for a converted try.
The Old Boys gradually began to settle into a rhythm with O’Connor opening his account and finding the target again when a perfect box-kick from scrum-half Pyper put his forwards on the front foot and the ball was moved wide to left-wing Stirling to force a penalty.
It was to get even better for Rainey when another intelligent kick from Pyper established field position and ball carriers O’Kane and Barker took it on before No.8 McGowan broke wide to find O’Connor taking an inside line for a lovely try at the posts.
O’Connor kept the scoreboard ticking over when Naas had a prop yellow carded,but the Kildare men threatened when O’Connor was collared and it took strong play from O’Kane and yet another gem of a box-kick from Pyper to relieve the danger.
Right on half-time, a Naas error allowed Rainey to hack through and then force a penalty close to the posts, leaving O’Connor to increase the lead to 19-3.
Flanker O’Neill returned to the fray, having sustained facial damage in an earlier collision with Bryce and within two minutes Rainey moved further ahead.
Centre Jody McMurray, acting captain on the day, burst through the middle for his support to surge down the left where hooker Shaw plunged over for a vital score.
Naas crept back into it with a penalty and always posed a threat, especially when Rainey lost prop Rutledge to the sin-bin for straying offside at a ruck.
But Rainey were able to find another gear, a great scrum earning them a penalty which kept them in the right part of the park.
When McCloskey fielded a clearance and linked with Stirling, Pyper kicked into the corner to force a five metre scrum from which the forwards patiently edged towards the posts.
The big Naas forwards, however, managed to disrupt the heel and spoil an obvious chance of settling the issue.
On 65 minutes, McGowan scored the try of the match. A text-book piece of tidying up on halfway by centre Damien McMurray allowed his support to swarm down the left for McGowan to take an exchange inside pass and finish off a superb score which O’Connor improved.
Naas replied four minutes later when Osbourne kicked wide for wing Delaney to cut inside for a well-worked try. Rainey were soon back at the other end where they twice turned down shots at goal to go for a fourth try.
The Rainey pack took one against the head to press down the short side, but the Naas scrum was to frustrate them once again.
A Rainey try looked on when McGowan took off on a mazy run, but a hack and chase took Naas up to halfway and in time added on, they caught Rainey napping to score from a short lineout throw ten yards out, not the first time this season that they have allowed this to happen.
Team: R McCloskey, M O’Connor, J McMurray, D McMurray, N Stirling, T Emerson, M Pyper, S Rutledge, A Shaw, N O’Kane, T Barker, R McCusker, C O’Neill, J Lees, P McGowan.
Replacements Used: E Shaw, J Roe, R Squires, M McClelland.