AIL Division 2B 26th November 2022

Scorers: Faiva(1*Try, 1*Conv), O'Neill(1*Try), McLean(1*Conv)

Rainey Old Boys welcomed Dublin-based Wanderers to Hatrick Park last Saturday for round 7 of AIL 2B.  Missing some key players, Rainey were on the wrong end of a 14-21 scoreline in a match they really should have won easily.

Wanderers opted to play with the wind in the first half and were quick to use the boot to send Rainey backwards.  A knock-on by Wanderers in the tackle allowed out-half Faiva to release his backs from their ’22 and they made great ground up the right before a handling error caused play to breakdown at the opposition ’22.  Rainey continued to apply the pressure.  They worked winger Hastings into space before he was bundled into touch close to the 5m line and Wanderers cleared their lines from the subsequent lineout.

An interception by Wanderers caused consternation in the Rainey ranks, but although the attack was snuffed out, the referee deemed the tackle to be high, and the visitors kicked for the corner.  A series of drives by Wanderers off the back of the lineout were withstood, Rainey’s in close defence barely conceding a yard.  Opting to spin it wide brought a more successful outcome, their out-half crossing for an easy try in the corner.

With the wind stiffening, Wanderers continued to bombard the Rainey defence with high kicks but fullback O’Neil and Faiva sent them back, a great kick by the out-half going almost half the length of the pitch.  A lineout steal by flanker Hall put Rainey on the front-foot, but the attack was ruined by another simple handling error.  Playing the advantage Wanderers hoofed the ball downfield, and Rainey had to scramble back before they won a penalty for holding on.

Wanderers attacked again, but when they infringed on the Rainey ‘22, centre Fitzsimmons took a quick tap and set off downfield.  He made it to halfway, then fed Faiva, who left the defence for dead, diving over at the posts and then adding the conversion.

Another clever kick-through by Wanderers saw O’Neill isolated and penalised for holding on.  They went for the corner and then initiated a series of pick-and-goes but the home defence held once more and they forced a knock-on over the line.

Back came Wanderers with a 50-22 and the game settled into Rainey clearing their lines and Wanderers using long-range kicks to pin them back.  A sniping run by the visitor’s scrum-half brought play to the Rainey 5m but a pass into touch killed the move. Finally, with the clock inching towards half-time, Wanderers were awarded a scrum penalty which the out-half converted to give the visitors the lead at the break.

Turning around with the wind to their backs, the home crowd were confident that the 1-point deficit would soon be reined-in.  Wanderers had other ideas. Playing tightly-controlled rugby, they denied Rainey possession and when lock R.McCusker knocked-on going for an interception, they added another penalty and Rainey were reduced to 14 men.

A turnover by Hall saw replacement out-half McLean kick into the corner, but the chance went begging.  Wanderers drove upfield and just as they were looking dangerous, O’Neill staged a magnificent overhead interception to go from his own 10m line and score under the posts.  Mclean had no trouble with the conversion.

Sticking to their script, Wanderers again worked their way up the pitch, retaining possession and eventually won another scrum penalty which they converted to draw level.

With Rainey failing to hold on to the ball when they had the chance, and their discipline fraying, a silly penalty saw Wanderers gifted a chance to take play to the Rainey ’22, and another penalty for not rolling away saw them kick to the corner.  Rainey withstood the initial surge, but their defensive line was not a patch of its earlier quality and Wanderers surged over for their third try, which was duly converted.

When the restart by Rainey was kicked dead, it just summed up their inaccuracy on the day.  A late rare venture to the Wanderers’ ’22 brought hope of a last-minute draw, but it was not to be.

Next week Rainey travel south again to Enniscorthy in Co Wexford, where a good win is essential.