Rugby: Rainey Old Boys prove too strong for Queen’s University

Rainey break for the line
Rainey break for the line

Two good wins last week have boosted morale as Rainey Old Boys prepare to complete their Ulster Bank programme with a long trip to Tipperary to play Nenagh Ormond.

They then finish up their season with a home game on Wednesday 15th April against Belfast Harlequins in the Ulster League.

The impressive Arena Pitch at The Dub was the setting on Saturday for a remarkable Ulster League fixture between Queen’s University and Rainey.

If ever there was a game of two halves, then this was surely it. By doing the basics well and making the right decisions, Rainey played as well in the first half as they have all season.

Quick to punish the students’ mistakes and gaining confidence by the minute, they produced some sparkling rugby to lead 31-0 at the interval with the bonus point already in the bag. But the second half saw an amazing transformation.

Now it was Queen’s turn to make hay as Rainey made a glut of costly errors to help them on their way.

They looked odds on to complete a dramatic comeback, but Rainey rallied to hang on by their fingernails for a 41-28 victory.

On a lovely Spring afternoon, the scene was set for a feast of running rugby and the teams did not disappoint.

Right-wing Gordon was left with an easy run in to give Rainey an early lead, O’Connor converting.

Queen’s then showed what they could do, but Rainey held out and when Boyle took it into the home 22’, out-half Martin dropped a neat goal.

Good forward play close to the touchline created a chance, but the final pass was blocked.

Rainey’s second try was possibly the best piece of rugby they have produced all season. Gordon chased back to turn defence into attack with some great footwork which took him past half the Queen’s side.

Scrum-half Wilson took it on with Gordon joining in again before the cavalry arrived and some sharp offloading culminated in second-row Stewart stretching out to touch down near the posts.

Rainey mixed their tactics well, some shrewdly placed kicks from Wilson making the opposition turn and they added to their lead on the half hour when Stirling did exceptionally well to keep a clearance in play and move infield with Wilson racing through from the ruck to score at the posts.

O’Connor was then just wide from his own half before Martin picked up a try which resulted from some good offloading and another glimpse of elusive running from Gordon.

Queen’s did everything but score in the dying minutes of the half, but the scoreline remained at an unbelieveable 31-0.

Rainey were as bad in the second half as they were good in the first.Costly errors with the boot and the concession of silly penalties handed the initiative to Queen’s who made them pay with tries from Shiels, Craig, Marshall and Rea.

They looked a good bet to strike again in the twelve minutes remaining, but McMurray lifted Rainey with a determined burst and a penalty to the corner gave them a strong position.

Queen’s managed to hold out as Rainey laid siege to their line and the Old Boys settled for a close range penalty which Mc Closkey kicked.

In the four minutes of time added on, both sides made mistakes. Rainey hearts sank when prop O’Hagan lost possession when tackled, but Queen’s then spilled the ball for Stirling to break away and have the final say.

Team: M O’Connor, M Gordon, R McCloskey, J McMurray, N Stirling, G Martin, M Wilson, S Rutledge, A Shaw, T O’Hagan, P Stewart, P Boyle, E Shaw, D Dawson, R McCusker.

Replacements: A Clarke, S Mackie, J Andrews, J Roe.