Rainey Old Boys RFC 13 – Sligo RFC 17
Sligo’s Ulster Bank League winning streak continued with an excellently crafted win over a strong Rainey outfit at Hatrick Park in Magherafelt on Saturday. With both sides on equal points in joint second place prior to the match a win was vital to the title aspirations of each club.
Despite the heavy rainfall which caused the postponement of all but two of Saturdays games in division 2C, the pitch in the excellent Hatrick Park facility was in excellent condition as Sligo’s Conor Kerins kicked the match off.
Sligo started the game at a terrific pace, shifting the ball wide at every opportunity and putting tremendous pressure on the home defence. A promising early foray into the Rainey 22, with Shane O’Hehir, Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill and Kuba Wojtkowicz all carrying well, almost yielded the opening score but unfortunately for Sligo the move broke down at the final stage. Sligo continued to press with their high tempo game and were finally rewarded with a Jack Keegan penalty from the 22 after 15 minutes. Sligo continued to dominate particularly at scrum time where Conor Mitchell, O’Hehir and Wojtkowicz were giving their opposite numbers a torrid time.
Sligo moved further ahead on 20 minutes with an excellently taken try. Scrum possession in midfield was cleverly switch from right to left by outhalf Michael Wells allowing Keegan the space to break into the Rainey 22. The full back was hauled down 10 metres short. Scrum Half Ryan Feehily moved the ball to the powerful Jamie Bowes who edged closer to the line. O’Dowd Hill continued the charge before Feehily fed Wells whose fast hands released Kerins and the winger touched down in the corner.
With 25 minutes gone Sligo further increased their lead. A scrum on the 10 metre line was marched to the Rainey 22 before the inevitable penalty was granted. Keegan bisected the uprights and Sligo were in an 11-0 lead. Rainey responded and in a rare foray into Sligo territory earned a penalty which was converted by Scott Mc Clean. Sligo regained the 11 point lead just before the break with another well struck Keegan penalty to put the half time score at 3-14.
The second half kicked off with Rainey determined to get back into the contest. The play ebbed and flowed with both sides looking to make a breakthrough and it was the home team that struck next. A poorly orchestrated exit strategy from the Sligo 22 gave McClean the chance to run back at the Sligo defence and the young full back linked up with outhalf Martin who jinked his way in under the posts for a well taken score. McClean added the extras to narrow the gap to 4 points.
Another McClean penalty with 15 minutes remaining put the narrowest of margins between the teams and a nervy finish was in store for both sets of supporters.
Sligo held their nerve however and Keegan tacked on another 3 points on 78 minutes with another well struck penalty ensuring that a try was needed for Rainey to catch Sligo. The kick off was secured and Sligo retained possession until Wells put the ball into touch for the final play of a momentous Sligo win.
This was another excellently worked team performance from a hard working Sligo unit. Based on a super strong scrum and a well functioning lineout in which O’Dowd Hill and Shane Boyle were prominent. Centre’s Daire Byrne and Mark Rooney caused a lot of trouble for the leagues tightest defence and speedster Callum Goddard looked dangerous when afforded space.
Sligo host Bruff next Saturday and will be looking to continue their winning run against a team whose recent from has seen them climb to fifth place in the table. The match kicks off at 2.30 at Hamilton Park.
Sligo: Jack Keegan, Callum Goddard, Mark Rooney, Daire Byrne, Conor Kerins, Mike Wells, Ryan Feehily, Kuba Wojtkowicz, Shane O’Hehir, Conor Mitchell, Ciaran Cassidy, Jamie Bowes, Simon Coulter, Diarmuid O’Dowd Hill, Shane Boyle (Capt), reps Matt Davey, Tom Gormley, Enda Gavin, Michael McMorrow, James O’Hehir.
** A gallery of photos courtesy of Rainey OB RFC can be found here.