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The recently formed and vastly under-prepared Rainey Old Boys U20 squad had their first run-out last Wednesday night at the first blitz of the season.   Incredibly, they almost came away victorious, losing by just 5-3 in the final to City of Derry thanks to a last-minute intercept try.  The abundance of natural rugby talent in the Magherafelt men was emphasised by how close they came to winning, with only an hour's squad preparation the previous night.


Opening against Coleraine, the lack of preparation and early season rustiness was apparent. Although enjoying a clear majority of the possession, there was a lack of cohesion in the team, leading to a multitude of mistakes and misunderstandings.  Playing into the strong breeze, Rainey exerted all the pressure, but couldn't string enough phases of play together to seriously threaten the Coleraine line, the game ending in a 0-0 draw.
 

Having blown away the cobwebs, they next took on Ballymena, and suddenly things started to click.  Strong running, impressive clearing out and great off-loading became the order of the day, as Rainey scored an impressive 26-0 win to top their group, with tries from captain McSwiggan, Lawrence, Andrews and Sanderson and three conversions by Lloyd Evans.
 

Facing City of Derry in the final, Rainey were soon under intense pressure as Derry threw everything at them, culminating in a missed attempt at goal.  They withstood the assault however and fought their way back up the pitch to finish the first half deep in enemy territory.  The second period was all Rainey, but this time it was Derry's turn to exhibit stout defence to keep the Magherafelt men at bay.  Several players came close as they almost breached the Derry line, but finally it was an exquisite, if totally unexpected, drop goal from out-half Quinn which broke the deadlock and nudged Rainey in front with 7 mins to go.
 

Again they attacked continuously, stretching the Derry team from side to side across the pitch, and punching up through the middle as the clock ticked down.  Cruelly, just as the victory was in their grasp, a loose pass thrown on the Derry 10m line was intercepted.  Despite a valiant effort to chase the player down, he made it to the corner to snatch victory for the men from Judges Road.
 

The squad can take great pride in their first outing, as with more preparation, they will undoubtedly play some great, entertaining rugby this season.

Squad: G.Hall, S.Bergeron, A.Walker, R.Murray, A.Brown, M.Friel, L.Quinn, R.Sanderson, J.Lloyd-Evans, C.McCann, M.Mulholland, C.Lawrence, R.Doherty, A.McSwiggan, C.Brennan, T.Andrews, N.Hastings, M.Gordon