With a light fixture list on the club scene at the weekend we took the opportunity to drop into Provincial D1 where we covered two matches.
Our first report featured Queen’s University II’s recording a big win against Dungannon II’s and this one was equally emphatic with runaway league leaders Rainey Old Boys defended their unbeaten run this season with a comfortable win against 5th placed Ballyclare.
The play was not aided by the effects of Storm Ciara starting to kick in and it’s the first game I’ve had to set off after my (quite heavy) camera bag which was whisked away a couple of times.
Despite playing into the teeth of the wind, Ballyclare set off on the front foot keeping Rainey pinned in their own half for the bulk of the first quarter. However, the hosts were unable to break down the visitors defence and when a player from each side was red carded after a tit for tat scuffle the game began to switch Rainey’s way.
It was nearly 25 minutes before Rainey troubled the scoreboard with Mark Friel going over for the opening try, expertly converted by Harry Evans and two more followed in quick succession as Friel broke through the middle for his second before prop Andrew Nevin finished off a series of offloads in the best move of the game. Evans made light of the conditions with two more conversions giving Rainey a 0 – 21 lead.
However Ballyclare gave themselves a glimmer of a chance when Gary Clotworthy broke through for an individual effort, on the stroke of half time, to take the score to 7 – 21 with the wind advantage to come.
Unfortunately, for the home side, Rainey upped their game to play into the wind and two quick tries pushed the match firmly their way. The visitors went on to score four more, without reply, to give a grand total of nine for the game. Mark Friel added two more to his first half brace and Gareth Hall, Andrew Donaghy, Jonah Hastings and Neal Hastings (2) all crossed in the second half.
Shout out for Harry Evans who converted all nine tries in what can only be described as difficult conditions.