Rainey are pitch perfect in impressive Junior 2 rugby victory
Gone are the days of rolling around in the mud at Magherafelt as Rainey III played their first game on the new 3G surface at the Meadowbank Sports Arena and recorded a 23-8 win over third-placed Ballynahinch IV in Junior 2. It turned out to be a different type of game with both teams having to adapt to the quicker pace and it was the home side who gained the early initiative.
Colin Patterson was winning more than his share of line out ball and with Neil Lennox providing quick service, the three-quarters were soon in action. The front row of Tommy O'Hagan, Kieran Donaghy and Ryan Convery had the edge in the scrums and it was O'Hagan who was first on the scoresheet when he crashed over after receiving quick ball.
At this stage Rainey were playing some great off-loading rugby with Ciaran McIvor and Simon Derby making a couple of breaks that caused problems.
An infringement at a ruck allowed Callan Moran to kick his first penalty of the afternoon and within a few minutes the home side were 13 points in front.
The ball was won and No 8 Richard Hall drove forward. The pack re-cycled until a gap opened up and Moran gave the oncoming John Beattie a pop pass and he crossed to the left of the posts.
Hinch had been absorbing the pressure but they came back at the right time with a well-taken Niall Thompson penalty and a try.
It came after a quick penalty and with the home defence in disarray, winger Aaron Bingham crossed in the corner to make the score 13-8 at the interval.
Rainey upped their game and Jared Monaghan, Connor Magee and Paudie O'Neill took play to the Hinch '22' where a penalty into the corner put them in an attacking situation. Hinch managed to repel the onslaught for five minutes and Rainey's only reward was another Moran penalty.
With five minutes remaining, McIvor broke through and dashed into the Hinch '22' where a last-ditch tackle prevented a try.
Ryan McGuckin and Andrew Davis were soon there to regain control and a kick through by Moran bounced off a defender and Monaghan hacked through to touch down for the final try, which was goaled. Rainey coach Declan McKenna was pleased with the way the team adapted to the new surface.
He said: "It was a much better performance after two narrow defeats. Our man of the match was Colin Patterson who dominated the line outs and made yards."
This was Hinch's third defeat so they have 12 points from nine games while Bangor II head the table with 15 points from nine with Malone III still undefeated on 13 points from seven.