Rainey 10-14 QUB -
Down to the bare bones for the visit of Queen’s, Rainey did well to emerge with a point from a 14-10 defeat and were, in fact, left thinking that this was a game that they might have even won.
In almost perfect conditions, Queen’s had plenty of opportunities to play the running rugby for which they are renowned as Rainey played into their hands, but failed to take advantage, making far too many errors in a disappointing stop-start affair.
O’Kane, Rutledge, Shiels, Barker, Dawson, Simpson, Woods, Murphy, Pyper and Clarke were all ruled out, leaving the Rainey selectors with no option but to rely once again on a very young pack.
On the plus side, they were able to welcome back No.8 Paddy McGowan from a month on the sidelines, while Nicholas Stirling came on late in the game for his first taste of rugby this season.
Flanker Lees had another big game, despite being hampered by a knee injury which, hopefully, proves to be not too serious.
Rainey badly need at least some of their ball carrying forwards back for the next block of AIL fixtures which begins with a difficult home game against Old Wesley on November 1st.
On a bright afternoon, Rainey centre Jody McMurray, acting captain on the day, initiated a sixth minute move which took play to the right, then back acrossfield to Gordon, with second-row Stewart going over from a ruck.
They then proceeded to conceed a succession of penalties, two of which were kicked by centre Rea. A lineout overthrow on halfway allowed Emerson to burst ahead with only one man to beat, but Queen’s full-back Hall did well to get back and deal with the chip ahead.
Short of big men to take it to the opposition, Rainey wer over reliant on the box kick which should have suited the visitors who were surprisingly flat on the day.
Queen’s missed an easy penalty as the Rainey scrum started to creak, but the stop-start nature of the game saw that there was no further scoring until Rea made it 9-5 after 33 minutes.
From the restart, McGowan took it on to earn a penalty, but the kick was missed and when Martin found a huge touch, Queen’s were allowed to counter from a quick throw-in.
Queen’s continued to pose little threat as Rainey were guilty of kicking away too much good ball, but, six minutes into the second period, Rainey replacement Martin scored when the ball appeared to have gone loose twice in the build-up.
They then missed a great chance when McGowan pounced on a Queen’s misfield with support on either side and only one man to beat,but his pass drifted slightly behind his target.
Queen’s managed to wheel the Rainey scrum and take ball against the throw on several occasions as Rainey began to sense that they could hold on to their slender lead.
Young full-back Ross McCloskey, brother of Ulster centre Stuart, miscued when presented with a long range chance, but Rainey remained very much in the picture until Queen’s snatched the lead on 68 minutes with an untidy score which was in keeping with the way the contest panned out.
A loose ball was hacked on for Hall to win the race and stretch out twice for the touchdown.
The try was allowed to stand despite Rainey’s claims for a double movement. Rainey stuck at it, but just did not have the firepower to stage a big finish and Rea hit an upright as Queen’s were happy to close out the game.
Team: R McCloskey, M McClelland, J McMurray, D McMurray, M Gordon, T Emerson, S Gibson, R Squires, J Roe, R Hall, P Boyle, P Stewart, J Lees, P McGowan, S Mackie.
Replacements: G Martin, K Donaghy, A Shaw, N Stirling, R McCusker.