AIL 2B 10th February 2024
Scorers: Quinn(1*Try), McCusker(1*Try), M.Nevin(1*Try), Bell(1*Try), McLean(1*Pen, 2*Conv)


As they head towards the business end of the league, Rainey knew they had come away from Saturday’s home match against Belfast Harlequins with as many points as possible, given the difficult run-in. Despite a shaky start, once they got going, they never looked back, earning a last-gasp bonus point in a 27-13 victory.

Receiving the KO in perfect conditions, Rainey immediately gifted Quins a straightforward 3-pointer, and when they slotted over another after 5 mins, the home side looked to be letting the visitors set the pace.

However, despite have the majority of territory and possession, Quins never looked capable of breaking the Rainey defensive line and they finally started to turn the tide when a penalty gave out-half McLean the chance to take them into the Quins’ 22’ for the first time. Quins prevented Rainey getting their maul going, but as they resorted to going through the phases, strong carries by prop O’Hagan and evergreen lock Barker took play to 5m out. With the attack stretching the full width of the pitch, scrum-half Quinn spotted a gap and darted through for Rainey’s opening try. McLean’s conversion was straightforward.

With both teams playing open rugby, the spectators were treated to some enterprising play from both sides, neither gaining the upper hand, until a Quins player was given a yellow card for offside and dissent. McLean’s kick took play into the 22’ but despite mauling their way to 5m, the defence held and Quins cleared their lines for some short-lived respite. They were soon back defending thanks to great work in the scrum by prop McSwiggan and another sin-binning for an offence at the maul saw a Quins prop leave the field.

Having the Quins scrum at their mercy, Rainey really turned the screw, earning a series of scrum penalties and eventually forcing the sin-binning of another Quins front row. With scrums now unopposed and Quins defending with four backs, the result was inevitable as centre McMurray powered over for a try and McLean added the extras.

Kicking off the second half, Rainey continued to use their advantage to stretch the visitors’ defence, and camped deep in their 22’, but were unable to breach the stubborn defence and eventually the numbers were equalised once more. It was short-lived as yet another Quins forward was binned for handling in a ruck and McLean took his chance to slot over the penalty.

They were soon back, working a great team try to send backrow man McCusker over the line, only for the try to be overruled due to a forward pass in the buildup. But with their tails up, the score had to come.

A quick tap penalty by replacement scrum-half A.Donaghy saw him make 20m down the left wing, taking play into the 22’. Going through the phases, Rainey worked the ball across to the right wing, before bringing it infield once more. Pounding forward, first McSwiggan and then Barker came close, before hooker M.Nevin eventually forced his way over. The conversion was off-target.

As Rainey emptied their bench, Quins finally came good, winning a series of 5m lineouts before eventually driving over in the corner. An excellent touchline conversion gave them hope, but with three minutes on the clock, Rainey were now chasing a fourth, bonus-point try.

A penalty allowed McLean to kick for the corner, but the lineout misfired, preventing the maul. With the ball rescued by O’Hagan, the forwards drove infield, then sent the ball left to Barker. Tackled just short, he gave a lovely underhand offload to flanker Bell to send him into the corner. McLean was just wide with the conversion to end the match and leave Rainey holding on to fifth place in AIL 2B.

Rainey head south to Cork City next weekend to play Dolphin, before returning to Hatrick Park on 2nd March to face Malahide.

TEAM: T.O’Hagan, M.Nevin, A.McSwiggan, T.Barker, T.Hutchinson, M.McCusker, M.Lee, L.Montgomery, L.Quinn, S.McLean, C.Devlin, A.Brown, D.McMurray, M.O’Neill (c), L.Regan.
SUBS: A.Nevin, K.Donaghy, B.Hall, J.Bell, A.Donaghy


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