2nd XV League
Scorers: Crozier(1*Try), Bell(1*Try), McGlone(1*Try), Hastings(1*Try), Lloyd-Evans(2*Conv)

With Rainey 1st XV on AIL hiatus for a week, all attention turned to the 2nd XV as they welcomed Armagh II to Hatrick Park for the latest round of the Seconds League.  Rainey Vs Armagh fixtures have often been hotly-contested affairs down the years, and this encounter proved to be no exception, with the visitors eventually emerging 24-32 victors.

Armagh were first on the scoresheet, a defensive lapse by Rainey giving their centre the opportunity to break the line and feed his supporting scrum-half who just made it to the touchdown.  The conversion was successful.

A poor restart from Rainey handed the ball back to the visitors for the first scrummage of the day, and their heavier pack was soon driving Rainey backwards.  Although the home side survived on this occasion, the signs were ominous.

With Rainey living on scraps, Armagh were soon working their way closer to the home touchline, and it came as no surprise when their big No8 dived over from short range at the base of a ruck.  The Armagh kicker was on target with the conversion once more.

A crunching tackle from lock Millar at the restart confirmed Rainey’s refusal to capitulate and with Millar and No8 Montgomery to the fore, they marauded downfield, winning a penalty 10m out when out-half Kearns was subjected to a high tackle.  Kicking to the corner, they won scrappy lineout ball and opted to go wide.  Rollicking charges from first lock Currie and then hooker McGlone took play to 5m out. Quickly spinning it right, centre Evans found fullback Regan coming into the line and he used his height to offload in the tackle to winger Crozier.  Driving for the corner, he forced his way over despite the attention of three defenders.  The difficult conversion was missed.

Their tails up, Rainey were soon right back.  Snagging an overthrown Armagh lineout, prop O’Connor made ground, with Montgomery adding a few more metres.  Spreading it right, Evans took play into the 22’, before the Armagh defence were caught offside.  Kicking for the corner once more, the forwards set the maul, but it was halted as Rainey were awarded a penalty.  Quick-thinking by flanker Bell saw him tap immediately and drive over for Rainey’s second.  The conversion by scrum-half Lloyd-Evans was good.

An offside penalty saw Armagh take their chance to go for the corner, but once more O’Conner was on hand to steal the overthrow and Rainey cleared their lines.  Coming forward again, a clever kick through from the Armagh centre sowed confusion in the Rainey defence, and when the cover was slow to arrive, Armagh won a 5m penalty.  Opting for the scrum, they were thwarted from a pushover try, but recovering, they sent the ball right for the blindside winger to dot down in the corner.  The conversion was missed.

Another cracking restart from Rainey saw centre McCullough leap to palm the ball back to Millar, who took play to 10m out, but poor control saw them concede a penalty at the ruck and the chance went begging. 

Keeping Armagh pinned in their own half, O'Connor was quick over the ball at a ruck to win a penalty and Kearns kicked immediately for the corner.  Flanker, Hastings rose for the catch and Rainey began to maul steadily to towards the line. As the defence crumbled, McGlone emerged through them to dive over for Rainey’s third try.  Lloyd-Evans’ conversion tied the game and brought the half to a close.

Catching the restart cleanly, Rainey were soon back on the Armagh 22’.  Spotting a gap in the Armagh defence, prop Hughes galloped through to take play to 10m out.  They went through the phases and were only prevented from scoring in the corner when Armagh conceded a penalty.  However, the opportunity slipped through their fingers when they lost the subsequent lineout.

Although the half to that point had been all Rainey, on a rare sortie out of their half, Armagh regained the lead from a straightforward penalty.  The response from the home side was a try of pure class.  Turning over loose ball just inside the Armagh half Rainey quickly went left, a long miss pass from McGlone giving them space.  Kearns sent Evans on a mesmerising run through the defence, and quick ball saw Montgomery brutally force his way to 10m out.  Swinging right, Rainey went wide to the waiting Hastings who rounded three defenders to cross in the corner.  The conversion was missed.

Armagh looked certain to score on their next attack as the forwards pounded the Rainey line, but when they sent the ball wide, somehow they managed to butcher a 3-man overlap.  Back they came, and it was Rainey’s turn to soak up pressure.  They eventually broke downfield, but in doing so lost their scrum-half Lloyd-Evan to a leg injury from a clumsy tackle.  Armagh kept the pressure on, adding another penalty to edge in front again.

With Rainey unable to break from their half or gain significant possession, they lost their defensive structure, and a seemingly innocuous missed tackle on halfway suddenly saw an Armagh player break through and go all the way to score a fine try.  The conversion gave the visitors breathing space.

A great one-handed catch by Reagan saw Rainey regain possession at the restart, and finally they were on the attack once more, eventually winning a penalty which Kearns sent into the 22’.  Pressing hard, they won further consecutive penalties in the Armagh 22’, but there was to be no fairy-tale ending and  the visitors ran out the winners.

Team: T.Hughes, C. McGlone, D.O’Connor, M.Millar, A.Currie (c), J.Bell, S.Hastings, L.Montgomery, J.Lloyd-Evans, R.Kearns, T.Crozier, M.Mulholland, H.Evans, A.MacDonald, L.Regan
SUBS: D.McPeake, G.Pollock, Alan Goodwin


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