Other Options

Ulster Bank AIL 8th December 2018
Scorers: Magrath(1*Pen, 4*Conv), Fritz(1*Try), Clarke(1*Try), Pritchard(1*Try), M.McCusker(1*Try), Donaghy(2*Try)


With five of the players who started against Belfast Harlequins unavailable for selection for various reasons, coach John Andrews had to make some positional switches and pin his hopes on youth for the long trip to Cork to play Sunday's Well.  He will have a somewhat different selection dilemma when he sits down to decide on a squad to play Dungannon on Saturday.  His very young lineup excelled in Cork, scoring six tries and picking up a bonus point in a magnificent 41-6 victory at Irish Independent Park.  After blowing hot and cold all season, it made for a pleasant change to see a Rainey side be more clinical and play for the full eighty minutes.

Over the last couple of seasons, Well have tried to keep the ball in hand if at all possible and it has made them a hard team to beat, but the wet conditions did them no favours.  Nevertheless, they opened the scoring with a penalty.  But, with their very young front-row of McIntosh, McSwiggan and Quinn giving a good account of themselves and gaining in confidence as the minutes passed, Rainey gradually established a foothold in the game.  The availability of Ronan McCusker to replace brother John was a big bonus, but it is likely that he will be returning to Boston after the holiday period.  They drew level before half-time when out-half Magrath converted a penalty.

The Old Boys have produced some memorable moments at this famous old ground in the past, but their second half display on Saturday was exceptional.  It was feared that, with a depleted side, their unbeaten run would come to an end, but they copper-fastened their top four place with a super effort and, in fact, now lie third due to the postponement of the Barnhall - Wanderers match because of a bereavement.

Hooker George Fritz, operating at No8, revelled in the open spaces with his breakaway colleagues, captain Paul Pritchard and Ulster U19 star Charlie Clarke and each of them was rewarded with a try for their efforts.  All too often this season, Rainey have failed to retain their focus after putting themselves in a strong position, but here they kept the foot on the pedal and did not hand the initiative back to the opposition with lapses in concentration and discipline.  Michael McCusker, moved into the second-row here, scored once again, making it an impressive seven tries so far this season and wing, Andrew Donaghy helped himself to a brace as Rainey pulled clear.

TEAM: M.O'Neill, A.Donaghy, C.Fitzsimons, A.Browne, S.McLean, A.Magrath, J.Bloomfield, J.McIntosh, A.Mc Swiggan, F.Quinn, R.McCusker, C.Clarke, P.Pritchard, G.Fritz
REPLACEMENTS: S.Rutledge, M.Mulholland, A.Hall, M.Nevin, M.Caithness.