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Ulster Bank AIL 2B Promotion Final 27th April 2019

Scorers: Quinn(1*Try), Roberts(1*Try), O'Neill(1*Try), McSwiggan(1*Try), Magrath(1*Try, 4*Conv), Barker(1*Conv)

Photos

 

It has been a difficult season for Rainey Old Boys, but it had a happy ending on Saturday at Stradbrook, south Dublin, where they beat Blackrock College 35-21 before a big crowd in the Play-off final.  Next season will be a huge challenge as they face several big clubs who have slipped down from a higher level.  The game turned out to be a real cliffhanger after a clinical Rainey side had led 28-7 ten minutes into the  second half.  Blackrock hit back with two converted tries making extra time a strong possibility, but Rainey pulled out all the stops to weather the storm, prop Aidan McSwiggan clinching it with a last minute try at the posts.

 

Having to do without several key players for much of the season, Rainey's top four place looked in jeopardy as their form dipped alarmingly in the New Year, but good results in Cork and in Galway rekindled their hopes and the return of some experienced players was a real boost as the business end of the season approached.  Rainey had blown hot and cold throughout the campaign and this inconsistency made life difficult for them in the Play-Offs, but, while they seldom looked like promotion candidates, they came good at just the right time.

 

Rainey fielded the same side that won at Greystones, Damien McMurray rushing down to Dublin by car, having sat an important exam in Belfast on the morning of the match.  At a bright, but breezy Stradbrook, Blackrock chose to play with the elements, but did not make good use of the wind, preferring to keep the ball in hand.  There was little between the teams up front with the wind forcing them to use their jumpers at the front of the lineout.  Rainey's defence was solid and their finishing clinical as they scored three great tries, all converted by out-half Magrath, to lead 21-0.  Wing Oisin Quinn set them on their way after twelve minutes with a fine try and hooker Brad Roberts made a lovely break to strike again.  The South African has been in great form since coming back from a long-term injury in the NewYear.  Quality ball paved the way for wing Michael O'Neill to go in unopposed for try number three.  On the stroke of half-time, A Blackrock try at the posts gave them some hope.

 

A turnover enabled Rainey to find a good field position early in the second half and they were in seventh heaven when Magrath crossed and converted following a telling break by Quinn.  Leading 28-7, they looked home and hosed, but Blackrock raised their game, aided by a succession of decisions which went their way.  Two converted tries changed the picture completely and the last fifteen minutes saw Rainey under heavy pressure in their own half.  Back-row men Magowan and Harbinson were yellow carded to add to their problems, but they put their bodies on the line to keep the opposition at bay.

 

With the tension unbearable, a timely penalty allowed Rainey to move into the Blackrock half for prop McSwiggan to go over at the posts in the last minute.  The replacement had made a significant impact when he came on.  The conversion was entrusted to former Ulster player Tim Barker who was retiring after the game.  A recurring back problem has limited his participation this season, but his experience proved invaluable.

 

TEAM :   M.O'Neill, O.Quinn, C.Fitzsimond, D.McMurray, A.Donaghy, A.Magrath, J.Bloomfield, J.McIntosh, B.Roberts, C.Donaghy, T.Barker, J.McCusker, A.Harbinson, P.Magowan, P.Pritchard.

REPLACEMENTS USED :  C.Clarke, F.Quinn, A.McSwiggan.