First Trust Senior Cup Quarter Final. Rainey OB v Malone. By George Millar

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What a breath taking and incredible game of rugby played on the new 3G pitch in Magherfelt last night. The spectators were treated to a try bonanza that produced 11 tries. The Rainey officials have to be congratulated on the magnificent playing facilities they have established at Hatrick Park. The work is ongoing and as they call him in these parts Mr Rainey – Arnie McLean, is looking forward to the installation of their new floodlights on the 1st xv pitch before Xmas. With several hundred spectators in attendance the action was fast and furious from the first whistle. Malone opened the scoring after a searing line break by out half Josh Pentland with centre Nathan Brown crashing over for the first try with Pentland adding the conversation. Rainey made their intentions clear as they forced Malone to concede two penalties – converted by their exciting fullback Ross McCloskey and a try from Jonny Crowe to lead 11 – 7. This was as good as it got for Rainey as Malone coach Jacque Benade watched his players turn in a display full of pace, power and aggression. Winger Michael Barker scored a try to give Malone a 12 – 11 as spectators struggled to keep up with the frenetic pace of the game. Rainey’s cause was not helped when their 7 Sam Mackey was sin binned for a dangerous tackle on the Malone jumper from the kick off. Three tries followed in a 15 min spell from Josh Pentland, Ross Kane and Michael Cartmill with Pentland adding the three conversions to give Malone a commanding 33 – 11. Malone lost prop Ross Kane to the sin bin just before half time. Both coaches used their bench replacements with Rainey coach Richard Boyd looking to stem the Malone momentum in the second half. Try number 6 for Malone was finished off by back row Ben McDonnell and converted by Pentland to give Malone a 40 – 11 lead. Rainey did score an unconverted try only for the Malone team to add a penalty through Pentland to increase their lead to 43 – 11. If anyone thought the Malone players would sit back; it was evident the players were enjoying the 3G surface too much to relax. Further tries from Neil Burns, Ross Todd and Andy Bryan’s with Pentland converting two left the final score at 62 – 16 to the East Belfast side. They will join Ballynahinch, City of Derry and either Ballymena or Banbridge in the semi final draw. The match at Eaton Park last night between Ballymena and Banbridge had to be postponed due to the sudden death of long standing Bann club member George Chambers. Malone coach Jacque Benade rested several 1st xv players for last nights match as he decides on his playing squad for the AIL match at home to UL Bohemians next Sat with several players putting their hands up for inclusion. Outstanding in the forwards were Ross Kane, Captain Daryl Maxwell, Richard Millar, Ben McDonnell and Ross Todd. Out half Josh Pentland turned in his best performance for Malone this season with a personal tally of 22 points. Other backs to impress were Michael Barker, Michael Cartmill, Kieran Joyce, Andy Bryan’s and Neil Burns. The action continues at Gibson Park this morning when Malone seconds entertain Belfast Harlequins seconds with a 11 AM kick off. Rainey coach Richard Boyd maybe disappointed with his teams performance but will be looking to his players to bounce back when they welcome AIL Div 2A leaders Old Wesley to their Mid Ulster venue next Sat. Players in the AIL know there are few opportunities to contest for silverware during the season and the First Trust Senior Cup is a trophy the clubs want to win. We will look forward to the semi final draw next week. Well done to the clubs, coaches and players for providing spectators with so much quality rugby during these three quarter finals this week.

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