Saturday 13th March. Report by James Barr.
AIL Division 2 side Malone booked their place in the semi-finals of the First Trust Senior Cup when they beat a depleted Rainey Old Boys 10 -49 at Hatrick Park. Joining them in the last four are Dungannon, Instonians and Queen’s, who came from 25-0 down to beat Belfast Harlequins 33-28 at the Dub.
While Rainey competed well for much of the game and played some good rugby at times, it was the Gibson Park side who had the pace and finishing power behind the scrum that made all the difference. All seven of their tries, all converted by out-half Josh Pentland, came from their backs, with full-back Stuart Wilson marking his return from injury with a four try haul. Rainey did well to get back into the game after a poor start, but Malone were able to move up a gear and two late tries from Simon Cahill, who replaced former Rainey pivot Michael Wilson, gave them a slightly flattering victory margin.
Rainey were short of several regulars while Malone were without Mark McCrea and Cillian Willis, who both scored for the Ulster Ravens the previous evening. The Old Boys beat Malone 15-9 in the league in September at Hatrick Park, but there was little chance of an upset on this occasion as the Belfast men forced the early pace. Rainey did a good containing job for the first ten minutes, but three tries in quick succession left them facing a real drubbing. Right-wing Rowan scored the opener and Wilson came forward to grab a brace. Rainey managed to reduce the number of individual errors and some very good rucking helped them to dominate territorially for a spell, but they came away with no points.
Rainey started the second half well and worked their way up to the corner only to concede a penalty on the Malone line. Malone had a forward yellow carded for killing the ball as Rainey took the game to them. After 51 minutes Rainey broke down the touchline for McBride to place Devlin for a try. Second-row Stewart then made good ground, but his pass infield was blocked, but shortly afterwards the Rainey forwards produced a series of drives which ended with loose-head Amos getting a touchdown.
Wilson completed his hat-trick, but Rainey stuck at it to make it an entertaining game.Malone were able to finish off their approach play to re-open a big gap and canter home. Replacement scrum-half Neil Lennox became the 47th player to be used by Rainey this season when he came on for the last fifteen minutes.
TEAM : R Devlin, A Campbell, J McBride, K Irvine, D Dawson, G Martin, N Amos, C Donaghy, R Hill, C Lavery, P Stewart, C Brennan, R McCrea, G Eastwood.
REPLACEMENTS : S Hawe ( Eastwood 47 ), S Sufferin ( Donaghy 47 ), N Lennox ( Paul 65 ), R Botha ( Mc Bride 65 )
Other quarter-final results : Dungannon 41-22 Banbridge Instonians 47-13 Ards