Ulster Rugby Premiership Division 1 11 September 2021
Scorers: MacGinty(1*Try), O'Neill(1*Try), McLean(1*Pen,1*Conv)

After a challenging match against Queen’s last week,  Rainey Old Boy’s hosted Banbridge in their first home game of the season. In a tightly contested match, in near perfect conditions the visitors came out on top of the young Rainey side with a 21-15 victory over the hosts.

The opening exchanges were dominated by Rainey with the hosts regularly making inroads to Banbridge’s ’22.

Rainey’s backs moved the ball fluently targeting the outside corridors with both wingers making strong runs. Quick hands from Andrew Brown and Martin Connolly fed winger Ian Bratton who was tackled short of the line. After 32 minutes of sustained pressure, Rainey broke the deadlock after Neal Hastings fed scrum half Rory MacGinty who walked over the line for the opening score. The conversion was narrowly missed by Scott McLean.

However, Rainey’s hard work was quickly undone as Banbridge responded by moving the ball out wide back wide to narrow the score line to 5-7 which it remained until half time.

Half Time brought the return of Conor Fitzsimmons from New Zealand, instantly making his mark by breaking through the Banbridge’s defence outrunning his support. Rainey continued to make inroads into Banbridge’s half with strong runs from Conor Smyth, Deaglan McErlean and captain Adam Bratton. However, a turnover at the ruck resulted in a Banbridge penalty forcing Rainey back into their 22m. Banbridge took advantage of a quick lineout and marched forward to Rainey’s line through a maul. Quick ball from the back of the maul resulted in the away side scoring out wide to make the score 5-14.

Rainey bounced back with mobile prop Fintan Quinn breaking the line to run 30metres deep into Banbridge’s territory. Damien McMurray threw and exceptional pass out to the wing. No.8 Sebastian Hastings secured the ruck to ensure quick ball for Rainey’s backs with Daniel O’Neill scoring between the posts. Scott McLean converted to close the gap to 12-14.

Banbridge threatened again, however, the Rainey forwards committed defence repeatedly stopped the visitors maul eventually forcing a knock on to gain back possession 5 metres from the line.

A high tackle gifted Rainey a penalty with Scott McLean converting the ball high between the posts to gain the lead 15-14.

For the last ten minutes of high-pressure rugby, the tension was telling for both players and spectators of both sides. The tightly contested game was finally decided by a Banbridge line break four minutes before the end of play. A much-relieved Banbridge side finished the game victors 15-21.

Rainey again put in another wholehearted performance narrowly missing out on a positive result against strong 1B opposition. Rainey’s 1st XV has a rest week on Saturday 18th September; however both 2nd XV and 3rd XV sides host Queen’s at Hatrick Park.

The first U23 match of the season will take place against a talented Limavady team at 7:30pm at Hatrick Park. This will be an opportunity to see some of the young developing players emerging from our youth teams and school leavers.