- Result: Galwegians Firsts 15 - Rainey OB 26
- Venue: Hattrick Park on Sat Nov 5th 2022
- Competition: AIL Division 2B
Galwegians suffered a very disappointing defeat away to Rainey Old Boys in Co. Derry on Saturday in this Energia League Division 2B encounter.
This was Wegians’ first ever visit to Rainey. The home side, who were relegated from Division 2A last season, came into this game as strong favourites having won their previous two games.
In a game played in glorious mild autumnal sunshine, the Blues made much the better start. They dominated the opening quarter, using width at every opportunity to test the home defence. The hosts were being regularly pinned by the referee, and Wegians took the lead after 10 minutes when the in-form full-back Darragh Kennedy fired over a close-range penalty. It got better for the Blues when they scored the game’s opening try on 17 minutes. Having been awarded another close-in penalty, a tap and go sucked in the cover before flanker Ben McGuinness dived over to ground the ball near the right corner. Kennedy landed an excellent conversion and the visitors were good value for their 10-0 lead.
The second quarter was to prove their undoing. Almost straight from the restart, Wegians’ hard work was undone when the ball squirted loose, and Rainey’s out-half Moli Faiva showed both speed of thought and foot to scoop up the loose ball and sprint home to dive under the posts. He converted himself to reduce the arrears to 10-7.
This settled the visitors and their huge pack started to dominate proceedings. Two scrum penalties then gave Faiva a chance to kick deep from inside his own half after the half-hour mark. Wegians debutant winger Shane Mallon showed incredible skill and athleticism to jump high and tap the ball back into play inside his 22. However he was very harshly flagged by the touch-judge, as he clearly landed in play with both feet. It proved a pivotal call, as the big Rainey pack took full advantage to get their textbook lineout maul going. This resulted in their second try for no. 8 Connor Smyth, which Faiva converted again for a 14-10 lead. Wegians had their chances before the break, but were left to rue missed opportunities when tapping a penalty under the posts, when three points could have been the better option.
Rainey came out of the blocks in the second half and their pack were again setting the agenda. A well-taken 50-22 by Faiva set up another attacking lineout, and once again their rolling maul proved unstoppable, with flanker Michael McCusker, one of three brothers in the pack, claiming the touchdown. Faiva again converted and the hosts stretched their lead to 11 points.
However Wegians then reclaimed a spell of dominance. Penalties were again going their way, and when centre Mark Earle launched an excellent touch-finder deep inside the 22, sub hooker Dylan Keane found McGuinness at the tail. Quick hands spun it wide and Kennedy ignored an overlap outside him to make a dart for the line and touch down near the right corner. Although wide with his conversion attempt, the gap was now back to six points and it was game on.
The hosts then went in search of their bonus try , and just when Wegians looked like they had weathered the storm, they were punished for some high-risk play when Kennedy tried to run the ball out from the in-goal area. His pass to winger Karl Waterman went astray, and despite a suspicious looking knock-on, Rainey full-back Mickey O’Neill dived on the ball near the dead-ball line and referee Colm Roche awarded the try.
It was a killer blow for the Blues, and they still had chances to steal a late bonus with a third try, but the ball was turned over by the buoyed up home defence who cleared their lines to seal the victory.
So another harsh lesson for the Blues, who have to start winning games soon. Their next game us a vital home tie against Wegians coaches Brendan Guilfoyle and Shane O’Brien’s former team Malahide (Sat. 12th November, 2.30 ko).