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SONI Ulster Premiership 22nd December 2018

Scorers: Clarke(1*Try), J.McCusker(1*Try), McMurray(1*Try), Magrath( 1*Try,4*Conv)

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A good crowd turned out at Hatrick Park for the Soni Ulster Premiership game between Rainey Old Boys and Belfast Harlequins, both sides having won their three games at the start of the season as a warm up to the AIL.  Having defeated Quins recently in an AIL game at the same venue, Rainey were confident of repeating that success and in winning 28-19, with a try scoring bonus point, they cannot be caught now with only next week's game at Dungannon to be played.  So, Rainey are winners of Division 2 and will compete against the big clubs in the top section next season.

Ulster Bank AIL 15th December 2018
Scorers: O.Quinn(1*Try), O'Neill(1*Try), Bloomfield(1*Try), Magrath(1*Try, 2*Conv), Fritz(1*Try)
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On a thoroughly miserable afternoon, Rainey Old Boys produced probably their best display of the season to beat Mid-Ulster neighbours Dungannon 29-0 at Hatrick Park.  The sides meet again on January 19 when the AIL resumes at Stevenson Park.  At the mid-season stage, Rainey will be happy with their comeback after a very slow start, while Dungannon have slipped down to bottom place.  This game passed a late inspection after hours of heavy rain and high winds and, while there were plenty of handling errors in the atrocious conditions, Rainey in particular, adapted well, with out-half Andy Magrath running the show throughout.  His kicking out of hand was most impressive.

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)
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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.

Ulster Bank AIL 1st December 2018
Scorers: Magrath(1*Conv, 1*Pen), Forwards(1*Pen Try)
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The lights were on before kick-off at Hatrick Park where Rainey Old Boys met Belfast Harlequins on matchday 7 of the AIL.  But while the rain that fell all morning relented shortly after kick-off, conditions underfoot were the real winners on the day.  With both sides struggling to control the wet ball, it was soon clear that this poor, stop-start affair would produce few tries.  Rainey again failed to push on after going 10-0 up and in the end were happy to hold on as they fell apart in the final quarter.  The Deramore side kept plugging away to pick up a losing bonus point with a try in the last play of the game.  This 10-7 victory takes Rainey up to fourth place in the table with Corinthians and Sunday's Well both losing.

Ulster Bank AIL 10th November 2018
Scorers: Bloomfield(1*Try), Quinn(1*Try), McLean(1*Try), Magrath(3*Conv, 2*Pen)
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After losing all three of their opening fixtures in a demanding start to the AIL programme, Rainey Old Boys were determined to bounce back by winning every game in the next block before the Autumn internationals.  They achieved their target, beating Sligo 27-17 at Strandhill to move up to sixth place.  Although they had only won one game before Saturday, Sligo have been competitive, picking up three bonus points.  They played well enough against Rainey to suggest that they can move clear of bottom spot.

 

With McMurray and Rutledge unavailable and Harbinson ruled out with a broken nose, Rainey's resources were severely stretched, but they battled well for the eighty minutes for a deserved victory.  There is still plenty of room for improvement, but after a two week break, they should be in rude health for the pre-Christmas challenges which they face.  Next up is Belfast Harlequins at home on December 1.