Stunning Schools Cup victory for Rainey

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Rainey ES 11 BRA 8 IN near perfect conditions and in front of a large crowd the ‘P Keenan Road Surfacing’ sponsored Rainey ES 1st XV entertained the fancied Belfast Royal Academy in Round 3 of the Northern Bank Ulster Schools Cup. The local boys knew this would be a difficult game and would have to be at their best to win. BRA kicked off and immediately went on the offensive. Rainey were penalised at an early ruck and from the resulting penalty they went 3-0 ahead.

They used their large forwards to punch holes in the Rainey defence. For the opening 10 minutes Rainey were finding it very hard to cope with the visitors. A fantastic last ditch tackle from fullback Ryan Brown prevented BRA from opening the scoring. BRA then squandered a great chance when they knocked on with the line at their mercy. After 15 minutes or so Rainey began to work their way into the game. Fine work from the home forwards, gained them some good field position; but the visitors defence held firm. Against their bigger opponents, the Rainey scrum began to get on top. The front row of Jack McCalmont, Sam Hawe and Conal Murphy worked tirelessly to gain the upper hand. With the second half drawing to a close, a fine break in the centre by John Stewart was supported by Mark Kavanagh. From the resulting breakdown, BRA were penalised and Martin Connolly kicked the penalty to level the scores at 3-3.

The half time whistle went to send the teams in at 3-3. Rainey started the second half in blistering form and scored a try that involved most of the team. From the kick off Jonathan Lees put in a fantastic tackle, which turned over ball in Rainey’s favour. Quick ball from Oisin Quinn, send the forwards running into space. A great carry from Damien Devlin made good ground. With BRA on the back foot, slick hands from Arran Murphy and Chris Moffett sent Martin Connolly into space and the centre had the legs to make it to the corner to give Rainey a 8-3 lead. Connolly missed the wide conversion.

For the next 15 minutes neither team could gain the ‘upper hand’. Excellent tackling from both sides made attack very difficult. Rainey captain, Thomas Booth threw himself into tackle after tackle to stop BRA going forward. Michael Dawson was having a very influential role on the game, playing with real energy in both attack and defence. With 15 minutes remaining, after Rainey were penalised BRA kicked to the corner and from the resulting lineout drove over to level the score at 8-8, with the conversion being missed.

With time running out, the young Rainey side showed courage by having a go at the BRA defence. Right wing Jamie Noble, made good ground, before passing to replacement prop, Timmy Maxwell. He carried the ball into the BRA half. When scrum half Oisin Quinn made a nice break the BRA defence was penalised and Martin Connolly slotted the kick to give Rainey a 11-8 lead.

BRA then came on the attack. Jonathan Lees made yet another brilliant tackle, but Rainey were penalised at the ruck. They kicked to the corner, but from the following lineout the home forwards went into overdrive and stopped the push over. Rainey now knew they were capable of upsetting the visitors and finished the game on the front foot. When the final whistle, there were great scenes of jubilation from the players and home supporters. This was a very good, deserved victory for the Magherafelt boys and one that displayed the great spirit in the squad.

Late in the afternoon the draw was made for the 4th Round and Rainey discovered that they will be at home to Methody. Another very difficult game, but one that is not beyond the reach of this Rainey team. The 4th Round game is scheduled for the morning of 11th February. The home support makes a significant contribution to the boys performance, so please everyone come out on the 11th February.

The squad would like to dedicate this victory to Mr Charlie Simpson who unfortunately missed the game. Everyone associated with Rainey Rugby would all like to wish him best wishes as he recovers in hospital.

In Saturday’s only other fixture, the ‘David Allingham Forklift Safety Training’ sponsored Rainey ES Medallion hosted Campbell College, Belfast. This was always going to be a very difficult game for the local boys, as Campbell are one of the top school sides in Ulster. To their credit they put in a really good performance but went down 34-0 in the end.

On Friday the Under12 A, B and C teams travelled to Grosvenor GS and recorded 1 win from the 3 games. In very wet conditions and on very muddy pitches the Rainey boys struggled to play the free flowing game that they are capable off. The A team lost 30-20 with tries from Martin Cudden, Martin McNulty, Stephen Greer and Matthew Smyth. The B team won 40-15 with tries from Martin McNulty (3), Gregory Conway (2), Jamie Beggs, Jay Sayer and Pierce McLarnon and the C team lost 20-0.

Saturday 4th February’s fixtures are against Friends School, Lisburn and Methody. The ‘David Allingham Forklift Safety Training’ sponsored Rainey ES Medallion takes on Friends in the quarter final of the Northern Bank Ulster Schools Medallion Bowl. The Under 14, Under 13A and Under 13B play Methody. All games are at home with a 10.30am kick off. All support will be very welcome.