Hours of driving rain and high winds left the Old Boys’ home game with Barnhall in doubt, but the efforts of a posse of pitchforkers were rewarded with a precious 13-8 victory over high-flying Barnhall.
The saturated surface held up better than expected, allowing the players to produce a cracking contest. Two poor kicks allowed Barnhall to dictate from the off and they went in front with a fourth minute penalty.
A steady supply of lineout ball from Shiels and McGowan helped Rainey to gain a foothold in the game and a forward drive earned them a penalty from 45 yards with which O’Connor struck a post.
A miscued kick from hooker Fritz allowed Barnhall to counter and look menacing, but, after taking a ball against the head, they conceded a penalty deep in the Rainey 22.
The handling was surprisingly good considering the conditions and a passage of good play ended with a Barnhall forward pinged for playing the ball on the ground. O’Connor made no mistake to bring the scores level.
Rainey centre Simpson almost got through a gap and when Barnhall again threatened, Rainey produced a timely turnover for Boyle to clear upfield.
Towards half-time, Rainey put together several phases in the visitors’ 22, but out-half Pyper’s little kick through was overcooked.Right on half-time, Rainey conceded a silly penalty after a mix-up at the base of a scrum, but the kick sailed wide. Rainey were happy enough to turn round on level terms having faced the blustery wind
The tackling of the Rainey side was a major factor in the outcome of the game and it brought them a penalty just after the break when a Barnhall player was penalised for not releasing.
O’Connor went close from 50 yards. But they did not have to wait long for the score which turned the game in their favour. And a brilliant try it was, with wing O’Connor coming into the centre from a lineout to cruise through and put centre Moore clear on the 22. The conversion was equally dramatic, but for entirely different reasons. The ball toppled over just as O’Connor was about to strike it, but he had the presence of mind to attempt a drop at goal, the ball fading back on target and clipping the inside of the post on the way over.
A penalty, brought forward for dissent, gave O’Connor the chance to make it 13-3 and they looked home and dry at that stage. But on 55 minutes they conceded a very soft try when No.8 McGowan picked up from a scrum near the home line, stumbled and lost possession. Their position was strengthened when Barnhall had a forward yellow carded and they piled on the pressure.
But a loose pass cost them yards of ground and a second hack forward took Barnhall into a strong attacking position.
Rainey defended well and seemed to be in control, but another penalty enabled Barnhall to lay siege to the Rainey line. The Old Boys somehow held out and the tension increased when a scrum had to be reset three times.
Barnhall looked destined to snatch the points, but Rainey were not to be denied and in time added they worked their way clear and drove further upfield with a controlled catch and drive.
Team: G Martin, M O’Connor, K Moore, S Simpson, N Stirling, M Pyper, P Kidd, S Rutledge, G Fritz, N O’Kane, P Boyle, M Shiels, J Lees, C Mitchell, P McGowan. Replacements: A Kirk, J McMurray, P Heaney.
Old Wesley v Rainey OB
Harlequins II v Rainey II
Rainey III ( Crawford Cup)
Rainey IV v Larne III