Rainey Old Boys had to settle for a losing bonus point at Donnybrook where Old Wesley beat them 22-16 in a re-arranged game.
A swirling wind made conditions tricky at the famous old Dublin 4 stadium, but the amount of ball turned over had the crowd frustrated from an early stage.
The closeness of the score kept them interested, but the quality of play was average enough,with most of the points scored coming from mistakes.
Rainey had to make wholesale changes for this game due to injury and unavailability and probably would have taken a point if offered it, but know now that it could have been won.
Rainey had wind advantage, but it was Old Wesley who started better, missing a penalty after only two minutes. Both sides forced turnovers with Wesley hacking upfield to earn a five metre put-in.
Rainey did well to clear after wheeling the home scrum and Shiels’ work on the ground gave O’Connor the chance to open the scoring from 45 yards after 13 minutes.
Hooker Fritz had to leave the field for running repairs, but, following good play from debutant scrum-half Quinn, O’Connor increased Rainey’s lead. He went close from the restart when the Rainey pack took it on to force a penalty in midfield.
Midway through the half, one of the touch judges got in the way of a Rainey player in a freak incident close to the sideline.
He must have lost his bearings, but, fortunately for Rainey, Wesley wing McLaughlin’s shot at goal was hooked.
Some excellent work from Rainey’s experienced back row of Mitchell, McGowan and Heaney kept them in the picture, but good counter rucking from the Wesley forwards ensured that Rainey’s stay was short-lived.
Shiels then took lineout ball against the throw, but his fine work was wasted and on the half hour they fell behind. After going to the corner from a penalty, Wesley moved the ball back and forward in the 22 to score behind the posts and add the points.
O’Kane joined the fray as Quinn found touch in the home 22 from a Donaghy set-up, but Wesley stood firm and hacked clear. Back came Rainey with Damien McMurray, Shiels and Donaghy making ground, but a penalty decision followed.
With Fritz back in action, Rainey immediately regained the lead when Wesley conceded the silliest of penalties, but good interplay brought Wesley their second converted try minutes later.
Rainey hit back, moving it wide to right-wing Irwin and O’Kane leading a surge to earn a put-in after being held up.
The Wesley scrum was under pressure at this stage, but a penalty decision let them off the hook.
A thumping tackle from O’Kane ended a Wesley back move and O’Connor looked a sure bet to score when Fritz created the chance with a great break. The Drumsurn man is no slouch, but he was amazingly overhauled just short.
A frustrating series of decisions halted Rainey’s momentum, but McMurray seized a loose ball to allow forwards Heaney, Rutledge and O’Kane to take them back upfield.
From a penalty to the corner, Mitchell drove for the line with support and Fritz found a little gap to score at the posts.
Mitchell did well again when Wesley upped their efforts, but, when the Rainey backs encroached at a lineout, a penalty into the Rainey 22 was quickly followed by another which left Wesley 17-16 in front.
Six minutes from time,a missed tackle proved costly as Wesley moved play acrossfield to create the opening they needed.
It was all Rainey in the dying minutes, with Sterling having a go and two penalties to the corner presenting them with opportunities, but the execution lacked accuracy and Wesley survived.
Team: M O’Connor, N Irwin, D McMurray, J McMurray, N Sterling, J Fleming, O Quinn,S Rutledge, G Fritz, A Kirk, T Woods, M Shiels, P Heaney, C Mitchell, P McGowan. Replacements: N O’Kane, K Donaghy, J Cassidy, R Hall.
Crawford Cup: Rainey OB III 12-29 Portadown II
Fixtures: 1st XV v Bective Rangers (away); 3rd XV v Limavady II (home)