Nenagh Ormond 26-14 Rainey OB
The unavailability of a host of regulars saw Rainey Old Boys field a strange looking side against Nenagh Ormond in the final week of the Ulster Bank League.
They may have had a few strange faces on board and some square pegs in round holes, but they did the club proud from start to finish and can be rightly pleased with the effort they put in, coming up just short.
Rainey, not surprisingly lacked cohesion behind the scrum, but some very solid scrummaging and superb lineout work, from Ronan McCusker in particular, kept them in the game until the latter stages when the tackle count began to take its toll.
Nenagh made several positional switches in the backs which gave them greater fluency and two tries in five minutes helped them breathe more easily.
Two fine kicks from scrum-half McCloskey and half-back partner O’Connor helped Rainey to a confident start, but Nenagh were soon deep in Rainey territory where McCusker denied them with a magnificent lineout steal.
A missed tackle in midfield proved costly as Nenagh scored at the posts after thirteen minutes. Derby made a nice little break and Rutledge got on the end of a chip ahead, but Rainey generally looked unlikely to create anything in the backs.
Rainey spent ten minutes in or around the home 22’ without really looking like finding a way through, but a strike against the head led to McMurray scything through to touch down beneath the posts, O’Connor converting.
The closing minutes of the half belonged to Nenagh who got away with a couple of knock-ons, but missed a clear chance when a player slipped with the whitewash in sight.
Right on the half-time whistle, Rainey were awarded a relieving penalty which would have been the last action of the half, but failed to find touch into the wind and paid the penalty as Nenagh countered past some ineffective tackling to turn round 14-7 up.
Promising young debutant Michael McCusker moved to the flank to accommodate the experienced Boyle as full-back Clarke’s pace took Rainey forward.
A very impressive set piece kept Rainey in the picture and they shocked the noisy home support after 55 minutes when McMurray took his own little chip on the full to stroll through behind the posts.
Nenagh upped the intensity as a number of switches behind the scrum brought added fluency to their back play.
With the tackle count rising, Rainey conceded two tries to put some daylight between the sides, but they kept battling right to the end.
Team: A Clarke, M Gordon, J McMurray, S Derby, N Stirling, M O’Connor, R McCloskey, S Rutledge, A Shaw, N O’Kane, R McCusker. M McCusker, J Lees, J Roe, P Stewart. Replacements: P Boyle, C Donaghy, M Barr, T O’Hagan.