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Ulster Bank AIL 3rd February 2018
Scorers: Donaghy(2*Try), Lamberton(1*Try), O'Neill(1*Try), Magrath(2*Pen, 1*Drop Goal, 1*Conv)


In a game that had just about everything, Rainey Old Boys, with a squad which was almost down to the bare bones, pulled off a remarkable 31-22 victory over Wanderers on the back pitch at the Aviva Stadium to keep their promotion hopes alive.  The Dublin 4 side must be wondering how they took away nothing from a game which they dominated territorially.  With more options in the lineout, their pack provided a good backline with a steady stream of good ball, but Rainey worked their socks off to contain them, set them back with some crashing tackles and run in four exceptional tries for a dramatic, if unexpected,win.


After an unacceptable showing at Skerries, Rainey, with several of their top players absent, appeared to be on a hiding to nothing and Wanderers looked lively in the opening exchanges as wing Lamberton and McIlroy, operating on the flank in a crisis, were called on to bring off important tackles.  But Rainey struck in devastating style after nine minutes.  Lamberton moved infield to make good ground before finding right-wing Donaghy on his outside.  He headed for the corner, checked inside the cover and went in for a spectacular score which was to give the backs great confidence.  Magrath's conversion attempy hit the post.


From the restart, Lamberton wriggled out of a double tackle to take his side up to halfway with a strong burst, but when Michael McCusker was spotted pulling down a maul, Wanderers laid seige to the Rainey line for several minutes before their scrum-half nipped over close to a ruck for a converted try.  They added a penalty as all the decisions appeared to go the way of the home side, but Rainey swooped again on 23 minutes with an even more spectacular try than their first.  Moving the ball acrossfield in their own half, full-back O'Neill raced up the wing to send Donaghy round behind the posts, leaving Magrath with a simple kick.


Rainey were hit by another disputed decision late in the half.  A pass on the Rainey 22', which clearly went forward, was not spotted, allowing Wanderers to take a 17-12 lead.  Centre Quinn was then yellow carded for a deliberated knock on.  But the half was to end with another sparkling try.  A turnover allowed Rainey to move it wide to O'Neill, who outpaced all covering players in an eighty yard dash and leave matters level at the break.


Three minutes into the second-half, Wanderers scored an unconverted try in the corner and had the look of winners for a spell.  Rainey elected to give a few of their forwards a little break until a great tackle from Quinn brought them a penalty which turned the game Rainey's way.  Magrath was successful from 30 yards, but hooked wide from a more difficult position.  Minutes later, Rainey were ahead.  Quinn did well to claim a loose ball and set it up for No8 McMurray to break through to the posts where he was halted, but the ball was moved wide for Lamberton, captain of Limavady last season, to cross in the corner.


As the temperature plummeted, things were to get even better for the travelling Rainey support.  From a scrum just inside the Wanderers' 22', McMurray and Wilson combined to win a penalty which meant that Wanderers needed a try with four minutes remaining.  After seven minutes of time added, Rainey forced a five metre scrum and, with the referee signalling a penalty, Magrath popped over a drop goal with the last kick of a memorable contest.


TEAM :  M.O'Neill, A.Donaghy, O.Quinn, D.McMurray, R.Lamberton, A.Magrath, M.Wilson, M.Nevin, K.Donaghy, A.McSwiggan, R.McCusker, J.McCusker, M.McCusker, A.Harbinson, J.McMurray

REPLACEMENTS  :  F.Quinn, D.Corrigan, S.McLean, C.Smyth