AIL 2B 13th January 2024
Scorers: Canavan(1*Try), McLean(1*Pen)

As the AIL enters its second half, Rainey travelled to Stevenson Park, Dungannon for the first of the return fixtures. Unfortunately, their form in the pre-Christmas game was not to be repeated, with the home side running out easy winners, on a 21-8 scoreline and knocking Rainey down into sixth position.

The early phases were mostly even, before a scrum penalty to Rainey and then a clever punt through by fullback Regan took Rainey to the home 5m line, but the ‘Gannon were allowed to exit when the visitors conceded a penalty in the ensuing maul, and a further two scrum penalties gave them a chance at goal.

Thankfully, the shot sailed wide, but a Rainey fumble gave Dungannon a second chance with a 5m scrum. Despite withstanding the initial heave, Rainey were then forced into goal-line defence before as Dungannon forward eventually powered his way over between the sticks. The conversion was straightforward.

Once again, Rainey worked their way downfield, with good work by the backs taking play up to the home 5m once more. However, a moment of madness at the lineout saw hooker O’Neill sent to the bin for taking a player out in the air, and ‘Gannon were quick to exploit the extra man.

A great break by their out-half in midfield took play deep into Rainey territory, before he unleashed a lovely crossfield kick for his left winger, who was only denied a certain try by a cruel bounce of the ball. Rainey managed to clear their lines, but with Dungannon continuing to press hard, they conceded another penalty for a high tackle. Again, the attempt was squandered, but with Rainey struggling in the lineout, another chance was soon forthcoming and this time Dungannon kicked for the corner. Rainey secured a crucial turnover, but were unable to find touch, and Dungannon attacked again, some ineffectual tackling from Rainey eventually allowing them to cross close to the posts. Once more, the conversion was a formality.

With O’Neill restored, Rainey seemed to have found their mojo, as backs and forwards linked well to stretch Dungannon and take play into the home 22’, where a scrum penalty allowed out-half McLean to finally open their account.
Another Dungannon attack saw them win a penalty on 5m, but the visitors’ goal-line defence held, and the half ended with no further score.

The second half started with Dungannon pressing strongly, but it was Rainey who had the first chance to score, when McLean was just wide with a long-range penalty attempt.

While neither side was able to dominate teritorially, Dungannon’s third try put the final seal on the outcome. A seemingly innocuous attack in midfield suddenly created a gap in the Rainey defence and the Dungannon out-half carved his way through from 30m to score at the posts. The conversion was good.

With the possibility of denying Dungannon a try bonus point, Rainey pushed forward once more, camping in the home 22’. A series of scrum penalties gave them the chance to go for the corner, but repeated mistakes prevented them from pressing home the advantage, until finally, with the clock ticking towards no-side, good work by centre Fitzsimons sent winger Canavan in at the corner for a last-minute consolation try.

Rainey’s next match will be at home to Galway Corinthians at Hatrick Park on 20th January.

TEAM: A.Nevin, D.O’Neill(c), A.McSwiggan, T.Hutchinson, R.McCusker, M.Lee, M.McCusker, A.Montgomery, L.Quinn, S.McLean, C.Devlin, A.Brown, C.Fitzsimons, E.Canavan, L.Regan.
SUBS: K.Donaghy, M.Nevin, B.Hall, L.Montgomery, A.Donaghy


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