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Regional South 28th October 2017

Scorers: Lloyd-Evans(1*Try), Mulholland(1*Try), Hall(1*Try), Hastings(1*Try), McLean(1*Try, 5*Conv)


As Rainey III took the pitch against Banbridge V, a quick glance at the physicality of the opposition raised concerns as to how a team comprised of mainly U20s players would cope with their bigger and older opponents. In the event, although they lost 40-35, they were more than up to the challenge.


Kicking off with the wind at their backs, Rainey held Bann in their own half, with backrow Lawrence putting in numerous tackles, until a turnover was forced. From the scrum, out-half Hall released his backs to devastating effect. The ball reached winger Crooks, who interlinked beautifully with fullback McLean as they tore the Banbridge backs to shreds, before feeding inside to scrum-half Lloyd-Evans who had an easy canter over the line. In the first of five of excellent kicks, Mclean added the extras.


The second came following good work by the forwards as they won a turnover and again the ball was flashed wide. Once again, McLean, Crooks and Lloyd-Evans shredded the home side backs, before feeding supporting No8 Mulholland who forced his way over at the posts.


At this point, realising what they were up against, the experienced heads on the Banbridge side made the tactical decision to keep it tight. Slowly and methodically they forced their way downfield to score an unconverted try, despite Rainey’s dogged defence.


Despite conceding a substantial weight difference, the Rainey pack’s better technique gave them superiority in the scrum, and several times they shunted their opponents back, before winning one against the head. Once more, the backs made mincemeat of the Banbridge defence and Hall was on hand to take an offload and power down the right wing to score.


With the Rainey backs on fire, and good driving up the middle by the forwards, the match threatened to turn into an unexpected rout. Mclean added another out wide on the left and then converted from the touchline to leave Rainey 28-5 ahead after 30 mins. However, in a sign of what was to come, the Banbridge forwards repeated their pick and go tactics to score another unconverted try just before half-time.


Resuming with the wind, they were soon camped on the Rainey line before forcing their way over and adding the points. Now the momentum was with the home side as they battered the visitors at every opportunity. Each time Rainey tried to break out, including a storming run by Andrews, Banbridge managed to curtail them and kicked back into the corner. Another two tries, and one conversion gave them a 29-28 lead and they added a further two penalties to take them well clear.


Rainey were down, but not out. Forcing a lineout on their opponents 22’ their hopes were dashed when Banbridge won it and cleared their lines. However, the kick failed to make touch and once more the Rainey backs rekindled their magic from the first half for McLean to slip the ball to flanker Hastings who touched down under the posts. Mclean’s conversion brought them level, but another powerhouse performance by Banbridge gave them a sixth try and a five-point lead.


With the last kick of the game, and having been erroneously informed by the referee that they were only two points in arrears, McLean attempted a winning penalty, but it went wide. This was a great performance by a young team, who played some great rugby, but simply didn’t have the power to withstand the physicality of their opponents.