Rampant Rainey humble Harlequins with a 76 point drubbing at Meadowbank

RAINEY II 76 – 0 BELFAST HARLEQUINS II

Monday, 1st November 2021, 3:19 pm

Rainey II coasted to an easy 76-0 victory over Belfast Harlequins II in their Provincial Premier Division match on the 3G pitch at Meadowbank on Saturday.

On a fine breezy afternoon, the heavier going of a grass pitch might have better suited the visitors, but the plastic surface was ideal for Rainey’s style of running rugby as they ran in 12 tries (eight converted).

Rainey pressed hard in the opening exchanges, but were guilty of being over-eager, as simple mistakes led to scoring opportunities going begging.

However, as Harlequins struggled to get the ball out of their 22” it was only a matter of time before the dam broke, and when Rainey created space on the left, flanker Bell was able to cross the line virtually unopposed.

‘Quins attacked strongly from the restart, but were unable to get far into the Rainey half.

Time and again they went through the phases, but Rainey’s tackling was top-drawer, and the back row of Currie, Bell and Hastings were having a field day in the loose. A great turnover by second-row Millar allowed the ball to be swung wide to right winger Jeffers, who beat two defenders and outpaced everyone to run in from 40m.

Harlequins restart eventually won them a lineout in the Rainey 22”, but another turnover saw play quickly swing to the other end. Strong carries by Hastings and second-row Bolton, and a superb chip and chase by centre McClelland ended with Hastings leaping like a salmon for a high pass on the visitors’ tryline. Alas, it just eluded him and ‘Quins barely cleared their line.

A steal by prop Andrews at a ‘Quins’ lineout on their 10m line a few minutes later was quickly tidied up and a clever offload by Hastings allowed Currie to burst through the defence and sprint to score under the posts.

Having accepted they were not going to outrun the young Rainey side, Harlequins wisely attempted to use the superior bulk of their forwards to outmuscle the home side. Keeping it tight, they went through multiple phases trying to punch their way up the pitch, but made little headway due to determined Rainey tackling.

Another turnover by Millar allowed hooker McGlone to charge down the middle of the park, but the interception of a loose pass a few moments later almost led to the visitors opening their account. As the ‘Quins flanker hared towards the posts, he was only pulled up by the referee blowing for a penalty. Kearns kicked for the corner, but again Rainey were guilty of sloppy passing with the line at their mercy and ‘Quins escaped once more.

Their respite was temporary. Gathering a kick ahead, fullback Young released centre Mulholland who tore left and rounded the defence to add another long-range score to Rainey’s tally.

The game was now falling into a familiar pattern. Harlequins attacked using their bigger forwards, but made little headway. Rainey soaked up the pressure until an opportunity presented itself, and then scored, on this occasion when fullback Nicholl returning a kick, fed Jeffers, who beat his man and returned the ball for Nicholl to sprint from halfway down the right wing, to score under the posts. Hastings duplicated the play a few minutes later down the left wing, and the half ended with the referee awarding a penalty try for a high-tackle on scrum-half Hegarty as he was about to score.

Turning around 47-0 to the good, Rainey began to run riot again. Jeffers made great yardage down the right-wing with a clever, jinking run, Currie carried well and replacement out-half Brown fed Bell to drive over in the corner. Brown also converted with a superb touchline kick.

Hastings was back on the scoresheet a few minutes later, when a hack ahead by Hegarty was fumbled on the tryline, and the No8 was on-hand to dive on the loose ball. Brown was next, after superb running by Mulholland on the left-wing, who then added another, diving over in the left corner.

‘Quins threatened again when their centre broke through and made 50m before being hauled down by the chasing Hegarty. They maintained the pressure on Rainey, who eschewed kicking from their own 22”, and continually tried to run the ball out.

Winning a penalty, ‘Quins kicked for the corner, but Hastings stole the lineout, and eventually Rainey staged a breakout when replacement Young broke through the attackers and headed upfield. A great reverse-offload to Hastings was then passed to Mulholland who took play to halfway. Young fed prop Gordon, who released Millar into space, and the sprint for the line was on. He got to within 10m before being hauled down and the defence were able to affect a turnover. As they tried to run it out, a mistake by their winger gifted the ball to Bell 10m out, and he made no mistake in completing his hat-trick. With that, the referee called time with 10mins still on the clock.

This was another great performance from a very young team, especially in the forwards. They tormented their opposition, denying them the ability to use their weight advantage, while the backs showed pace and enthusiasm to run their counterparts ragged.

TEAM: Nathan Jeffers, Andrew Nicholl, Mark Mulholland, Dave McClelland, Cameron Young, Ryan Kearns, Craig Hegarty, Neal Hastings (c), Joel Bell, Adam Currie, Matty Millar, Ewan Bolton, Timmy Andrews, Ciaran McGlone, Michael Gordon.

SCORERS: Bell (3*Try), Mulholland (2*Try), Hastings (2*Try), Jeffers (1*Try), Currie (1*Try), Nicholl (1*Try), Brown (1*Try, 1*Conv), Kearns (6*Conv), (1*Pen Try)

REPLACEMENTS: Michael Lee, Jack Leacock, AJ Brown.

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