It was a case of third time lucky for Rainey Old Boys when they welcomed Co..Kildare visitors N.U.I.M.Barnhall to Hatrick Park.The Celbridge outfit had won the previous two meetings between the sides,so Rainey were keen to come out on top this time and continue to put some pressure on the promotion challengers. After looking like coasting to an easy victory,they had to regroup to take the points on a 19-17 scoreline with full-back Mark O’Connor responsible for all their points.Four AIL wins in February have seen Rainey accumulate seventeen points,which is in stark contrast to October when,with most of their top players on the injured list,they picked up only one point from four outings.
CLICK HERE FOR PICTURE OF RAINEY OLD BOYS V CONNEMARA RUGBY 19th Feb: Pics Courtesy Of Charles Henderson.
Rainey welcomed back Simon Hawe to the back-row,but were without key forwards Shiels and Mc Crea.They have been notoriously slow starters of late,but on Saturday they played some excellent rugby in the first half hour,by which stage they could have had the points already in the bag.
And when Barnhall had a prop yellow carded for a trip,the contest looked as good as over.But Rainey went off the boil and handed the initiative to the opposition,leaving O’Connor to save their bacon in the last quarter.
Late replacement Stewart took the first lineout of the game against the throw for Rainey to throw the ball about and win a penalty which was missed.With Dawson and Heaney also in fine form they dominated possession out of touch until Barnhall began to gain a foothold in the game towards half-time.Thriving on some tidy quick ball,the Rainey backs had Barnhall defending desperately and after nine minutes they cracked.Dawson again stole lineout ball on the 22′ for the backs to put width to it .Suiter used his strength to take it on and set it up and when play moved back acrossfield,O’Connor had the fairly simple task of opening the scoring and then adding the points.Barnhall twice showed that they were not to be underestimated when they broke through the middle,but Rainey generally controlled affairs.Heaney,Suiter and quick support enabled Martin to find a good touch and when Hawe claimed the lineout throw,the pack drove into the 22′ only to concede a penalty.Another good piece of play,started by Sciascia,created a half chance for wing Devlin,but when the forwards launched another series of drives,an O’Connor penalty made it 10-0 after 30 minutes.
The yellow card incident proved to be a turning point.Instead of twisting the knife,Rainey found themselves in or around their 22′ for the rest of the half.Barnhall fully tested the home defence before reducing the deficit with the last kick of the half.
Barnhall looked lively on the restart and Rainey on several occasions experienced difficulty in getting the ball away from the back of the scrum.O’Connor restored Rainey’s lead when a Barnhall tackler failed to roll away before Barnhall started to dictate.Rainey defended well until they conceded a penalty.Barnhall opted for a scrum which resulted in a converted try and Rainey optimism was suddenly dissipating .A minute later,the outlook was looking decidedly bleak when they handed Barnhall a gift try.Rainey had the numbers to exploit the space on the right when Devlin came across to join the line,but his pass was intercepted in the Barnhall half with Rainey committed to attack.
As the game entered the final quarter,Rainey were awarded a penalty on the 22′,five yards in from touch.Rather than go to the corner,they opted to go for goal and O’Connor’s superb strike left one point behind.With ten minutes remaining,Mac Mahon,Heaney and Sciascia helped Rainey to set Barnhall on the back foot and O’Connor cooly converted a 32 yard kick to regain the lead.Suiter and O’Kane initiated a surge which should have produced a good drop goal opportunity,but when out-half Martin was fed the ball,he had to rush his attempt.They managed to keep Barnhall in their own half in the dying minutes with the forwards holding on to possession well.
TEAM : M.O’Connor,P.Suiter,J.Mac Mahon,R.Paul,R.Devlin,G.Martin,P.Sciascia,N.Amos,S.Sufferin,N.O’Kane,P.Boyle,P.Stewart,D.Dawson P.Heahey,S.Hawe.
REPLACEMENTS : A.Campbell ( Devlin 60 ) R.Hall ( Amos 66 ) A.Harbinson ( Stewart 66 ) C.Donaghy ( Sufferin 66 )
Other results in Division 3 : Ards 34 – 32 Connemara Highfield 28 – 30 Greystones Instonians 39 – 8 Banbridge Naas 31 – 17 Navan Nenagh Ormond 16 – 23 City of Derry Seapoint 29 – 13 Suttonians Wanderers 26 – 32 Sunday’s Well
THIRDS INTO SEMIS
Declan Mc Kenna’s 3rd XV progressed to the last four of the Forster Cup with a 29-12 victory over Section 5 strugglers Letterkenny 11 at The Dave Gallaher Memorial Park.Rookie wing Walker picked up 14 points with a try and conversion as well as three penalties.They had second half tries through centre Mc Namee,flanker Murray and centre Sanderson who damaged a hamstring in the process.
A very weak 2nd XV travelled to Strabane where they were beaten 32-14 in Conference 3 A.The Fours did not travel to Inishowen due to a shortage of fit bodies.
FIXTURES for Sat.5 March.
1st XV v Ards Ulster League home 2.30p.m.
2nd XV v Ards 11 home 1.00 p.m.
3rd XV v Coleraine 1V away