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Ulster Bank AIL Play-Off Semi-Final 21st April 2018

Scorers: Bloomfield(1*Try), McLean(1*Try), Quinn(1*Try), Magrath(1*Conv, 2*Pen, 1*Drop Goal)

Photos

 

The spring sunshine attracted a big crowd to Hatrick Park for the play-off semi-final between Rainey Old Boys and Kildare side Barnhall. There was nothing between the teams until a gem of a try gave Rainey a little breathing space midway through the second half and they improved their position with a drop goal five minutes from the end of normal time for a 26-14 victory.  Promotion is the prize for the winners of next week's final when Rainey meet Navan at Hatrick Park.  The Meath club defeated Greystones 22-16 at Dr. Hickey Park where the scores were tied at 16-16 when the 2A side had a player yellow carded in the closing minutes.

 

With all their backs available for selection,Rainey coach John Andrews had a couple of hard decisions to make for this game, but Tim Barker was declared fit to start after intensive treatment during the week.  Paul Pritchard trained, but was not included among the replacements.  He is to see his consultant again this week and just might make an appearance.

 

Rainey made a confident start with Barker breaking out of the home 22'after taking the kick-off, but the visitors served notice that their backs would take some watching when they launched a crossfield counter attack that had Rainey at panic stations.  The Old Boys struck after eight minutes when Ulster A prop Tommy O'Hagan thundered forward into the Barnhall 22' and managed to make further ground when he was not held.  Good support and quick ball allowed them to use the narrow side for McLean to send scrum-half Bloomfield in for a fine try.  McLean then had to get back quickly when Rainey gave up possession on halfway for Barnhall to hack downfield.  The Celbridge outfit lost a prop to a yellow card, but kicked a penalty when Rainey held on too long under pressure.  Rainey played a lot of good rugby, but lost the ball in contact on numerous occasions to lose momentum.  Some of their passes were almost intercepted by a very lively Barnhall threequarter line whose centre Hudson played for Ireland U20s and Leinster not long ago.  Barnhall had Rainey stretched on several occasions, with the final pass letting them down.

 

As Rainey began to rotate their front-fow men, Neil O'Kane came on for a spell, but quick hands helped Barnhall to a well-taken try after a spell of pressure.  They added a penalty two minutes from the break when a series of pick and goes took them into the Rainey 22',  but, in time added, McLean fed Quinn and the left-wing went over in the corner for a vital score.  Out-half Andy Magrath converted with a great kick to leave them 12-11 ahead at half-time.

 

O'Hagan, having his best game of the season, was again to the fore as Rainey were awarded a penalty which Magrath kicked, but straight from the restart, they conceded the silliest of penalties to hand the opposition three points.  Barnhall continued to threaten as Rainey failed to make the most of the breeze, but Magrath was inch perfect from 45 yards just at the right time.  On 63 minutes, McLean lit up the show with a superb piece of skill.  Joining an attack thirty yards out, a little show and go took him between two defenders into the 22' where he weaved infield and then switched back to the outside for a memorable try.  But Rainey still could not relax, with McSwiggan shown a yellow card for a no arms challenge.  Their discipline has not been good this season and simply has to be better against Navan.

 

O'Kane surged forward to set up a ruck for Magrath to drop a very important goal five minutes from time.  Barnhall earned several penalties as Rainey persisted in running the ball in their own half despite having the breeze in their favour.  The referee somehow found eight minutes of time to add on, just long enough for Harbinson to join the yellow card list.

 

TEAM : S.McLean, N.Stirling, D.McMurray, J.McMurray, O.Quinn, A.Magrath, J.Bloomfield, K.Donaghy, D.O'Neill, T.O'Hagan, R.McCusker, J.McCusker, M.McCusker, T.Barker, J.McIlroy

REPLACEMENTS : N.O'Kane, A.Harbinson, A.McSwiggan, D.Corrigan.