AIL 2B 23rd March 2024
Scorers: M.O'Neill(1*Try), Hutchinson(1*Try), McLean(2*Conv)


With just 3 rounds to go in AIL 2B, Rainey headed to Shaw’s Bridge for a difficult encounter with runaway league leaders, Instonians. The Belfast club’s rejuvenation over the past few years has been nothing short of wonderous and they are certain to be playing in AIL 2A next season. In the event, the match turned out to be a one-sided affair, Inst eventually running out 48-14 winners, but with other results going their way, Rainey held on to their 5th spot in the table.

The match started disastrously for the visitors as they conceded a converted try in the opening minute. Rainey then made a brief foray into the home half, but playing into gale, every mistake saw them pushed back, and the inability to kick tactically severely limited their attacking options and it was no surprise when Inst added another unconverted try.

A quickly tapped penalty in the Rainey 22’ then saw Inst quickly spread the ball wide and gain their third score, the wind sending the conversion attempt wide once more.

On the attack again, Rainey hearts sank when the Inst out-half was able to kick from 10m from his own tryline all the way to the Rainey in-goal area, forcing a goal line drop-out. With the kick making little headway into the gale, Inst powered forward once again, and with a penalty coming added their fourth try and secured the bonus point. The conversion was good.

A rare lineout opportunity around halfway finally gave Rainey the chance to get their hands on the ball and string some phases together, but despite some good work, they ultimately made little ground, and Inst were soon back on the attack, sending their right-wing in at the corner. The kick was missed, but they got another opportunity as the speedy Inst backs carved through the Rainey defence to score under the posts.

Looking to end the half with no further scores against them, a lineout on the Inst 10m line set up a perfect attacking opportunity, and they sent the ball left, a well-timed pass by centre Brown creating a 2-on-1 overlap. Sadly, Devlin was unable to hold on to the pass, the chance went begging and as conditions deteriorated further with driving rain arriving, Inst were soon adding another converted try to end the half.

With the conditions now in their favour, Rainey started strongly, pinning the home side in their 22’, but were unable to convert the pressure into points. Inst showed them how it should be done, following a penalty when replacement winger Quinn saw yellow for a deliberate knock-on. They kicked to the Rainey 22’ and their forwards made no mistake rumbling over for the unconverted score.

Back came Rainey to camp in the home 22’, but again the home defence had the measure of them, before a mistake cost them the first Rainey score. Winning a scrum penalty 10m out, their scrum-half went for a quick tap and darted right. As their backs tried to spin it wide, centre M.O’Neill read the play and snaffled an interception to score unopposed, finally giving the travelling Rainey contingent something to cheer about. Out-half McLean added the extras.

Inst attacked ferociously from the restart, but Rainey had the measure of them, and soon it was fullback Regan’s turn to kick the length of the field for a goal line drop-out. Fielding the restart Rainey went through a few phases, before McLean sent an inside pass for lock Hutchinson to burst through and score from 30m out. McLean’s conversion was good and brought the match to a close.

Next week, Rainey have their final home match against 3rd placed Wanders, before a trip west to Sligo on 6th April for the final game.

TEAM: T.O’Hagan, D.O’Neill(c), A.McSwiggan, R.McCusker, T.Hutchinson, D.Devlin, M.McCusker, L.Montgomery, J.Lloyd-Evans, S.McLean, C.Devlin, A.Brown, M.O’Neill, A.Donaghy, L.Regan.
SUBS: A.Nevin, M.Nevin, L.Quinn, A.Montgomery, J.Bell


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