REPORT Nutty Krust Tournament Semi-Final Rainey OB U18’s v Omagh U18’s 13th April 2016. By Barney McGonigle

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The eleventh of this season’s games in the Nutty Krust U18 Tournament took place under the floodlights at a cool but mildly moist Chamber’s Park when Omagh U18’s and Rainey U18’s played on Wednesday evening. This was the second of the semi-final games and the result ensures the Rainey U18 team, who recorded a 15-7 victory by the end of a game in which all the points were scored in the second half, will take their place in the final of the competition against Dromore U18’s on Wednesday 27th April. A sizeable crowd had gathered to watch another entertaining Nutty Krust game which featured quite a few talented players on both teams. Among the group watching was Jonny Gillespie, the Ulster Rugby Talent ID Manager.
The Rainey team started the game brightly with their pack, and especially Jack Macintosh, impressing with their work in the set pieces and their well-organised dynamic mauling skills. Their back division, with Radgeen Chada and Lorcan Quinn to the fore, created a number of potential try scoring opportunities only for unforced errors to let them down. Omagh then came into the game with their back row trio of James Rutledge, Cameron Clements and Matthew Clyde getting through a lot of work. The Omagh half backs took advantage of this and created the opportunity, on a number of occasions, for Jimmy Cai to ask questions of the Rainey defence. The Rainey defence held firm and took play deep into Omagh territory. From a lineout quality possession was secured and Marc Friel made a great break for the Magherafelt team. His support player was obstructed but the ensuing penalty kick fell just short of the Omagh posts. The next twenty minutes saw both teams get through a lot of work but handling errors and non-contentious penalties led to the game becoming somewhat disjointed. The final few minutes of the first half saw the Omagh team dominate proceedings with Jimmy Cai beating a number of defenders only to be hauled down just short of the line on a couple of occasions. The Rainey team dis launch one attack out of defence and Andrew Hall saved the day for the Omagh team with an excellent cover defence tackle on Marc Friel when it looked as if the first points of the evening were about to be scored. These defensive efforts from both teams ensured the teams turned round at the interval with the score board reading 0-0.
The Rainey team started the second half strongly and they dominated both territory and possession in the opening exchanges. From a penalty in the Omagh 22m area the ball was quickly tapped and the end result was an unconverted try from the impressive Neal Hastings which gave the Rainey team a 5-0 lead five minutes into the second half. The Omagh team recovered with Matthew Clyde and James Rutledge leading the charge. They combined with Philip Ewing and Cameron Clements to put Cameron in for a try. Luke Murnahan added the extras to see the Omagh team into a 7-5 lead eight minutes after the restart. Ten minutes later it took an outstanding tackle from James Rutledge to prevent Padraig Totten scoring what seemed to be a certain try. The Rainey team was now in the ascendancy with Lorcan Quinn bringing Gareth Hall and Mark Friel more and more into the game. Jimmy Cai was now working hard in defence and he managed to keep thwarting the Rainey midfield attacks. That was until Rainey started an attack through Lorcan Quinn which was continued on by James Macintosh and Neal Hastings. Play moved up the touchline and ended with James McElhone being stopped just short of the line with a foot in touch. An Omagh error at the lineout was pounced upon by Neal Hastings who touched down for a deserved try. Lorcan Quinn saw his conversion kick rattle back off the cross bar but, despite this, the Rainey team now had a 10-7 lead with just minutes of the game remaining. Rainey then secured their place in the final of the 2016 Nutty Krust Tournament close to the final whistle when Padraig Totten finished off an attacking move with a fine try. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Rainey team had emerged from this entertaining game as 15-7 winners.
As usual with the Nutty Krust Tournament the players all received a post-match meal which was sponsored by Jim Hewitt Meats, prepared by the staff in “Scrummies” kitchen and organised by the ever present Sid Rowe. All players, as well as their coaches, received a Nutty Krust loaf on departure.
The President of the Ulster Branch, IRFU, Bobby Stewart, took more time out of his busy schedule to attend the match. Bobby, a member of the organising committee for the Nutty Krust Tournament, presented the Nutty Krust “Man of the Match” Award to the impressive Omagh outside centre, Jimmy Cai, at the post-match reception.
The final of the 2016 Nutty Krust Tournament will feature Dromore U18’s v Rainey U18’s at 8-00 pm on Wednesday 27th April. This is a re-run of the 2015 final with the Dromore team, having already defeated the Rainey team in their group stage game, displaying their strong intention to retain the Nutty Krust Trophy in the course of their route to the final. The Rainey team will be equally determined to put an end to the impressive run of wins the Dromore team has experienced. It is a game that should highlight all the positive aspects of the club age grade system in Ulster. All supporters will be made to feel very welcome.

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