Rugby: Rainey Old Boys face Skerries in crucial UBL tie

BATTLE... Rainey and Skerries battle for the ball at Hatrick Park last Saturday afternoon.INMM0913-346SR
BATTLE... Rainey and Skerries battle for the ball at Hatrick Park last Saturday afternoon.INMM0913-346SR

As the Six Nations combatants rest their battered frames this week, the spotlight falls back on the Ulster Bank League.

In Division 2A, clubs have five games left to play, starting on Saturday with three fixtures.

Leinster sides continue to lead the way. Old Wesley have a seemingly unassailable ten point lead over Blackrock who are only one point ahead of Skerries who come to Magherafelt on Saturday.

In their only previous meeting, Rainey defeated Skerries at Hatrick Park exactly two years ago on their way to winning Division 3.

Skerries staged a late run to claim a promotion spot last season and, after losing both their opening games to Wesley and Blackrock, can be well pleased with their first season back in higher company.

Having strengthened their squad, they have won seven of their last eight games and have every chance of pushing on from here.

The Fingal County representatives hammered Barnhall on their last outing and utility back Kevin McGrath has earned his place on the Club Ireland XV.

Rainey will have to improve on recent form if they are to halt Skerries’ run and at the same time give themselves any chance of playing Division 3 rugby next season.

They played well for much of the game at Blackrock, but, without some key players, lacked the experience and brawn up front to finish off some good approach work and the guile to create anything behind the scrum.

And when the Dublin side upped the ante in the last quarter, they were too easily opened up. Much will depend on the squad they can put on the field on Saturday. Kick-off 2.30 pm.

Damien Campbell’s improving young 2nd XV continued their rise up the league table when they beat Dungannon scoring ten tries in a landslide 61-10 victory at Hatrick.

Dominant in the set piece and mobile in open play, the forwards provided the backs with a continuous supply of front foot ball which led to some very classy scores.

A few chances were missed before Rainey opened the scoring after 20 minutes with a pushover try. Out-half Dillon converted and added a penalty before a loose pass gifted Dungannon a try.

With ball carriers O’Hagan and R McCusker punching holes in an overworked defence, the floodgates opened.

A well-placed little kick along the touchline from scrum-half Donaghy popped up perfectly for wing Crowe to pick up the first of his tries.

Flanker Shaw, another hat-trick man on the day, block a kick to go clear from forty yards and full-back Cassidy fed supporting wing Moran for another fine score. Crowe made it 32-5 before half-time.

Straight from the restart, Rainey established a great position in the corner for Shaw to score from the lineout.

From a Dungannon handling error, Rainey took it on for R McCusker to stroll through. Due to cards and injuries, there were plenty of spaces in the final quarter.

Dungannon scored a second try, but Dillon made a telling half-break and off-loaded to McClelland for perhaps the best try of the match and Crowe and Shaw had time to complete their hat-tricks, with Moran adding the points.

Blinding pace behind the scrum was to be a huge factor as a depleted Rainey OB 4s beat Ballynahinch 6s by 43-28 in a high-scoring affair at Hatrick Park.

Hinch were clear winners when the sides met in November, but they folded in the closing minutes as a magnificent long range penalty from out-half Devlin and an 85 yard move from a quickly taken penalty on their own 22’, finished off in style by Aiden Walshe, swung the issue in Rainey’s favour.

By trying to put width on the ball at every opportunity,the Walsh brothers and Mc Cracken helped Rainey to a lead.

Tiarnan Walshe and No.8 Miller crossed to keep Rainey in the hunt after the break as a Hinch penalty left it anybody’s game with ten minutes remaining.

The boot of Devlin and that wonderful late try gave Rainey a very satisfying win.