Rainey Old Boys 20
Sligo suffered the heartbreak of another late defeat when the concession of an injury time try saw a three point lead switch to a two point deficit in their latest Ulster Bank League match on Saturday.
Prior to the kick off at Strandhill, Sligo’s visitors, Rainey Old boys, held second position in the division 2A table and had won all but one of their previous seven league matches this season. Despite this daunting statistic Sligo entered the game in confident form having won their previous two matches on the road.
In bitterly cold conditions and with the aid of a strong breeze blowing from the mountain end, it was the visitors who made the better start. With only a minute gone on the clock Rainey stunned the home side. A penalty outside the Sligo 22 was quickly moved to flanker Paul Heaney who took advantage of some weak Sligo tackling and raced through the defence to open his teams account. Gary Martin added the extras.
Sligo settled into the game and their strong driving play, with Jamie Bowes particularly prominent, began to yield reward. With twenty minutes gone on the clock Full back Daniel Hawkins opened Sligo’s account with a well struck penalty from the Rainey 22 metre line following an infringement at the scrum.
Rainey struck again on the half hour. Following a scrum on the half way line the ball was moved right. Full back Rodney Paul joined the line and created the overlap, which allowed Andrew Cambell the space to beat the cover and touch down wide on the right. Martins conversion fell short to leave the half time score at 12-3 in favour of the visitors.
Sligo kicked off the second half in determined fashion and soon put pressure on their hosts. Good use of the breeze allowed Sligo set up field position inside the Rainey 22. Quick use of possession from a scrum allowed Mark Butler the chance to attack the Rainey defence and the out half stepped inside the cover and touched down to the right of the posts. Hawkins converted to move his team to within two points. unfortunately for the home team Butler injured his shoulder in the act of scoring and had to retire immediately.
Ten minutes into the half Sligo took the lead for the first time with another Hawkins penalty following an infringement at the ruck. This lead was short lived however as Rainey hit back with a Martin Penalty following the sinbinning of Gavin Foley for playing the ball on the floor. Despite being reduced to 14 Sligo continued to battle and jumped back into the lead again with an excellently taken score.
A scrum ball on the 10 metre line was carried by Aidan Mc Nulty, Bowes carried on the drive before a ruck was setup on the 22. The play was switched left and Paddy Pearson drew the cover before releasing the fleet footed Hugo Lafite and the winger raced to the corner to push the score to 18-15 in favour of Sligo.
Sligo were in front but their success was coming at a cost, Butler, prop forwards David Rowe, Shane Mc Guinness and Adrian Mc Hale and scrum half Pearson all had to retire with injuries. Because of the injuries to the front row players the referee had to call for uncontested scrums and Sligo’s previous dominance in this area was negated.
With the game in injury time the visitors were awarded a penalty on the Sligo 22. Most observers thought a draw was on the cards but Rainey had other plans and opted for the scrum. From the scrum the ball was shifted wide and Paul Wilson was given the space to crash over in the corner and put his team back in front.
Sligo gamely competed at the kick off but Rainey kept possession and their clearance kick was the final act of the match.
Sligo Daniel Hawkins, David Gerrity, Gavin Foley, Mataele Fifita, Hugo Lafitte, Mark Butler, Paddy Pearson, David Rowe, Ross Mannion, Shane Mc Guinness, Jamie Bowes, James Wilson, Paddy Conlon, Rory Kerins, Aidan Mc Nulty Reps Adrian Mc Hale, Gary Conneely, Peter Mullan, David Heath, Gary O’Hehir