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Five-try win makes it a Rainey day for league leaders

By Ronnie Ingram

Rainey III's 38-5 defeat of Belfast Harlequins III was their third victory over the Belfast team and they remain top of Junior 3.

Apart from the first week of the season they have either been leaders or joint top mainly due to the fact that they have played more games than either joint title favourites Omagh III or Queen's III. Rainey have 17 points from 12 outings whereas the Tyrone side have 14 from eight and Queen's 11 from 7.

The Magherafelt side had earlier accounted for Quins in the League by one point before convincingly eliminating them from the Crawford Cup so this was a game they were expected to win.

They did make things difficult for themselves with a player binned in each half but were also unfortunate to lose the services of former captain Declan McKenna early on.

Rainey had the edge in the scrums but conceded too many soft penalties that allowed the visitors to clear their line. Quins came close with a penalty but it was the home team that took the lead.

"Our try came when a searing break by Mark Eastwood took play to the Quins' '22' where he linked with Paul Dillon," stated captain Colin Patterson.

"He then threw a perfect pass to the fast moving Jamie Cassidy who scored for Dillon to convert who then kicked a penalty to give us a 10-0 interval lead.

"Quins came out strongly when they stretched our defence and prop Austen Martin barged over in the corner but we hit back immediately with the try of the match."

"Good off-loading by Paul Heaney and Ian Patterson gave the backs their opportunity and Paddy Kidd charged up the middle to link with Mark Eastwood. Castledawson man Connor O'Kane was involved before scrum-half Neil Lennox whipped the ball out to the charging Mark Donnelly who went in close to touch."

Rainey had the upper hand for the remainder of the game. A break by 19 year-old prop Michael Nevin led to Paudie O'Neill side-stepping a couple of defenders to score and then hooker Gavin McGucken claimed his sixth try of the season.

Then it was the turn of Patterson to stretch over for the fifth. Dillon's contribution was 13 points with that penalty and all five conversions.

The captain concluded: "We gave the Man of the Match award to Ian Patterson who carried well in his 45th league game in three seasons.

"After two disappointing defeats over the Christmas period we have responded positively but realise there is a lot more work to be done if we are to win the title.

"We have already won at Omagh 40-15 and drawn with Queen's so we are perfectly capable of doing so if we play to our capabilities."

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