AIL 2B 9th December 2023
Scorers: Regan(1*Try), McLean(1*Conv)

A (mostly) young Rainey team travelled south to County Galway for the latest AIL fixture against Galway Corinthians last weekend. With a gale blowing, and suffering four yellow cards throughout the match, they did well to only go down to a 35-7 loss, and will look forward to facing the Galwaymen when they travel North in the New Year.

Playing with the strong wind, Rainey were early entrants to the Corinthians 22’, but the home side broke out and a penalty gave them good field position in the Rainey 22’. The catch and drive were initially repelled, but when Corinthians went wide, their winger had no trouble crossing the Rainey line. The conversion was good.

Pressing forward again, a clever Rainey lineout move saw O’Hagan make good ground, and as Rainey went through the phases from left to right, it was ultimately full-back Regan who crossed in the corner. A superb kick from out-half McLean tied the game.

Sadly, the good work was undone as a Corinthians turnover and a series of penalties forced Rainey back into their 22’. A tap penalty saw the home side sorely test Rainey’s defences and they eventually lost veteran lock Barker to the bin, but when they held an attack up over the line, they took their chance to kick down field and relieve the pressure.

Back came Corinthians, and another lineout had Rainey scrambling to defend the maul. They held firm, but a slick move across the backs saw the home fullback cross and score close to the posts, simplifying the conversion.

On the attack for only the third time in the half, a precision penalty by McLean took Rainey to the 5m line. They worked their way infield and another tap penalty saw them go through twelve phases, coming agonisingly close, before out-half Faiva sent a deft chip wide to Regan. He danced through the defence, but was hauled down. Gradually, Corinthians pushed Rainey back and it was a relief to the visitors as they were finally awarded a knock-on on the 22’. A dominant scrum gave them 10m and a penalty, but another handling error gave Corinthians the chance to finally lift the siege.

Turning into the wind with a 7-point deficit Rainey knew they would be up against it in the second-half, and so it proved, an early McLean clearance into the wind making almost no headway.

Another Corinthians lineout on the 22’ allowed Rainey’s frailties out-wide to be exploited once again, as slick passing sent their winger in for converted try number three, and they continued to use the wind to good effect, pushing Rainey back at every opportunity.

A rare sortie into the Corinthians half ended abruptly when hooker O’Neill was shown yellow for a late hit and they were immediately pinned back in their 22’ again. Corinthians looked to have added their fourth try out wide, but were pulled back for a forward pass as Rainey were reduced to 13 men, replacement scrum-half Donaghy the third player to see yellow.

Rainey continued to defend manfully, repeatedly denying Corinthians the bonus try, but with all the cards and Rainey losing McLean to the bin as well, there was no stopping the home side and their winger was soon touching down in the corner once again, the conversion making it 28 – 7.

They added a fifth converted try before Rainey were restored to 14 players, and it was the Magherafelt men who finished the stronger, taking play deep into Corinthians territory for the remainder of the game, but without troubling the whitewash.

Next week Rainey return to Hatrick Park on the 16th for the local derby against Dungannon, before the Christmas break.

TEAM: T.O’Hagan, D.O’Neill(c), M.Nevin, B.Brown, T.Barker, L.Montgomery, M.McCusker, S.Hastings, J.Lloyd-Evans, M.Faiva, S.McLean, A.Donaghy, C.Fitzsimmons, E.Canavan, L.Regan.
SUBS: C.McGlone, T.Hutchinson A.Nevin, B.Hall, C.Devlin


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