Ulster Provincial North 8th April 2023

Scorers: McGlone(1*Try), B.Brown(1*Try), AJ.Brown(1*Conv)


Rainey III hosted a strong Ransdalstown II in the final round of the Ulster Provincial North league. In excellent conditions, the visitors just edged home on a 17-19 margin, but with a side featuring a number of recent school-leavers, Rainey came close to causing an upset.

Showing intent right from the off, Rainey forced a knock-on from the KO, and spent almost the entire 1st quarter. Despite a series of penalties kicked to the corner, and good catch and drives by Lock Ewan and props O’Connor and Gordon, the Randalstown defence held firm.

Out-half Regan and debut scrum-half Bentley were also a constant thorn in the visitor’s side, but the inability of Rainey to get points on the board eventually told against them, an in their first foray into the Magherafelt half, Randalstown eventually worked their way to a good try, well against the run of play. The conversion was missed.

Straight from the restart the Rainey side attempted to pile on the pressure again, with carries from lock McCullough and No8 B.Brown, eventually forcing their way to the defensive 5m lime before conceding a penalty. Tapping quickly and chipping the Rainey line, the Randalstown fullback gathered his kick and scythed his way the full of the pitch to score a superb solo effort. With the conversion secured Randalstown enjoyed a 12-point lead.

With half-time looming, Rainey returned to their earlier strategy, this time with much better results. Regan placed a superb kick into the corner, Ewan secured and within two phases Hooker McGlone picked at the base of ruck and dived over for a score. Conversion missed. McGlone then added a second just before the break after good work by McCullough at the lineout, Fullback AJ Brown successfully converting to tie the game.

The second-half was a tight affair with both sides playing end-to-end rugby. Rainey Centres Nugent and O’Kane and Fullback AJ Brown looked threatening with possession, but they couldn’t find a way to unlock the Randalstown defence. In the event, the visitors retook the lead, working their way down the left for the speedy fullback to go over in the corner. The conversion gave them a 7-point lead.

With time running out, Rainey progressed strongly downfield with good carries from Flanker Currie, locks Bolton and McCullough. Getting close to the line, No8 B.Brown took the ball at pace from a ruck and crashed over the line for a well worked try. With the conversion unsuccessful, Randalstown were able to hold onto their 2-point lead and deny Rainey the draw they deserved.

1. Dominic O'Connor 2. Ciaran McGlone 3. Michael Gordon (C) 4. Ewan Bolton 5. Matt McCullough 6. Ryan Harkness 7. Harry Currie 8. Ben brown 9. Sean Bentley 10. Louis Regan 11. Conan Brown 12. Callum Nugent 13. Darren O'Kane 14. Aaron Flynn 15. AJ brown
16. Tom McGovern, 17. Cameron Smyth, 18. Michael Goddard