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Rainey won't let defeats derail title challenge

Rainey IIIs are still well in contention for the Junior 3 title despite a disastrous two weeks.

After losing 52-12 to Enniskillen IIs in the Crawford Cup they were then defeated 13-3 by lowly Instonians IIIs on Saturday.

Bangor IIs head the table with 22 points after 15 games while Ballynahinch Vs have 20 from 15 and Rainey 18 from 13.

Rainey had the better of the early exchanges with Richard Hall and Ryan Deehan hammering the Inst defence, but mistakes prevented them from crossing their opponents line.

Nineteen-year-old debutants Matthew Henry and Jack McCalmont were impressive in the scrums and winning the ball against the head to set up a platform to launch attacks, but they all came to no avail.

The home side eventually took the lead with a Richard Maguire penalty before the visitors levelled through Caolan Moran a few minutes later.

The second quarter was dominated by Inst and they received their due reward when the ball was passed wide for Deric Henderson to go in at the corner for an unconverted try to give them an 8-3 interval lead.

After the restart Rainey upped their game and with the formidable partnership of Paul Brown and Mark Donnelly they began to break through the gain line.

Both teams tackled hard as the next score was going to be crucial and it was Rainey who came closer.

A great pass from Connor Magee allowed Declan McCann to rumble into the home 22 for Richard Hall to pick up and crash over with three defenders in tow.

Unfortunately for them the referee judged that the ball had been held up.

Inst's three-quarters always looked dangerous and they scored again after the ball was swung wide from a ruck and Matthew Wright raced in at the corner.

Rainey tried gallantly to reduce the arrears, but the Inst defence held for a deserved victory, their sixth win in 13 games.

Rainey captain Colin Patterson said: "A big improvement is needed quickly and we will have to learn to take our chances.

"I thought Richard Hall, who was at No 8 for the first time, had several strong carries and put in a couple of massive tackles while Paul Brown, who had been out through injury, distributed well.

"Young Matthew Henry and Jack McCalmont were equal to their more experienced opposite numbers."

Two defeats in successive weeks is not good for morale and Rainey have to pick themselves up quickly as they face their most important game of the season when they travel to leaders Bangor on Saturday.

Hinch, the only other team in contention, kept up their challenge with a 31-25 win at Portadown IIIs.

Belfast Telegraph