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Ulster Bank AIL 3rd November 2018

Scorers: A.Donaghy(1*Try), Magowan(1*Try), Bloomfield(*Try), McLean(1*Try),Rutledge(1*Try), Magrath(3*Conv, 2*Pen)

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Rainey Old Boys moved off bottom spot in Division 2B when, with a Jekyll and Hyde performance, they beat Skerries 37-30 at Hatrick Park. Their opponents between now and the mid-season break can all be beaten, but, unless they can play for eighty minutes, they may not win a game.  When they led 18-3 against a stiff wind after 32 minutes against Skerries, they looked sure to go on to a landslide victory, but, in the end, they were relieved to hear the final whistle.

 

The Old Boys played some very good rugby for much of this game, but then switched off completely.  This has been the pattern in recent games.  Unforced errors are proving costly, decision making at times is baffling, discipline is very poor and the tactic of using rolling substitutes in the second half is not working.  Their inability to put teams to the sword when they are there for the taking will haunt them against better opposition.

 

In windy conditions on a wet surface, Skerries took an early lead with a penalty goal,but a turnover just outside the visitors' 22' led to a penalty which Magrath kicked to level matters.  After some early lineout problems, the Rainey pack settled to produce some great ball and with flanker Harbinson driving into the opposition and receiving good support, Rainey scored a super try on 16 minutes.  Pritchard, Harbinson and Michael McCusker powered their way into the Skerries 22' where a series of phases  ended with wing Donaghy going over.  Magrath pushed them further ahead when a Skerries forward was yellow carded for not retreating ten yards forty yards out.  Now going well in the lineout and very solid in the scrum, Rainey were well in command and on 32 minutes front row colleagues McSwiggan and Fritz stormed through the middle for scrum-half Bloomfield to come through in support for another lovely try beneath the posts.

 

At 18-3, an emphatic home win was very much on the cards.  But Rainey started to push the self- destruct button and concede penalties galore.  A fluffed penalty to touch allowed Skerries to swoop to the Rainey end where they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts.  With Rainey sleeping, a tap penalty brought Skerries a soft try to close the gap to 18-10.

 

An intelligent little kick from Bloomfield into the corner allowed the Rainey pack to disrupt the lineout and earn a scrum from which No8 Magowan scored a pushover try which Magrath converted.  With a bonus point now a strong possibility, the wind dropped and Rainey were again caught napping when Skerries took a tap penalty to reduce the deficit.  Rainey responded with some good tackling keeping Skerries in their own 22' and when they exploited the short side from a scrum, wing McLean went in at the corner from an O'Neill pass to secure the bonus.

 

With lock John McCusker in the bin for a rucking offence, Rainey persisted in setting up rucks in their own 22' instead of simply putting the ball downfield behind the opposition and paid the penalty.  They conceded yet another penalty to gift Skerries a soft try to keep them interested, but a spell of forward pressure brought prop Rutledge a try to make it 37-20.

 

The final quarter was a nightmare for Rainey whose followers  could scarcely believe what they were witnessing.  Back-row men Clarke and Pritchard were yellow carded in quick succession for breakdown offences, leaving them with thirteen men.  Sensing that all was not yet lost, Skerries grew in stature to run in a bonus point try.  Rainey managed to get to the other end, but had a try ruled out for a foot in touch.  Skerries kept going and four minutes into time added, Rainey were penalized on their own put-in on their 22'.  Skerries opted to take the points on offer to secure a second bonus point.  Had the game lasted another few minutes, God knows what might have happened!

 

TEAM:  M.O'Neill, A.Donaghy, O.Quinn, D.McMurray, S.McLean, A.Magrath, J.Bloomfield, A.McSwiggan, G.Fritz, K.Donaghy, J.McCusker, M.McCusker, A,Harbinson, P.Pritchard, P.Magowan.

REPLACEMENTS:  M.Caithness, F.Quinn, C.Clarke, S.Rutledge.