RAINEY U-16s 0 BANBRIDGE U-16s 19
Rainey hosted Bann U-16s on a pitch that was close to being a swamp. To their real credit Rainey allowed the game to go ahead, and both sides took the field in what was a bitterly cold and wet affair.
Rainey started brightly and took the game to Bann up front. However Rian Evans and Johnny Simpson showed with a big double hit that Bann were here to play with real intent. Rainey’s attacks were repeatedly driven back with superb tackling. The game, as expected, was played mostly between the packs, with Rainey only once showing the pace of their outside centre. Unfortunately for Rainey, his opposite number for Bann was Jamie Carville who stopped a promising attack with a great covering tackle.
Bann then got the ball and started to play some lovely attacking rugby given the conditions, with the tactical kicking of out-half Denis Kerr causing the home side a lot of bother.
Bann opened the scoring through winger Harry Agnew, who was able to sprint past the covering defence to touch down a brilliant cross field kick by Kerr. Both sides then played some good rugby considering the conditions but by the break there was just that one unconverted try separating them.
The second half saw the weather deteriorate further. Ben Mitchell, unfazed, showed his strength and carrying ability with some bruising runs while Simpson continued to be everywhere in attack and defence. Bann stifled themselves at times though by allowing Rainey to turn them over.
A second try then came after sustained pressure from the Bann pack, who battered the Rainey line until Simpson crashed over for a try which Kerr converted. Some massive defensive hits by Carville continued to stop the Rainey backs, with his centre partner Lucas Loughlin also impressive in his defensive work.
Bann’s final points came following great work from the pack in the midfield which opened up a gap that Noah Parks ran through, beating four Rainey defenders on a 60 metre sprint to the try line, with Kerr again adding the extras off the tee.
Coach Calum Russell was impressed with the way his players had adapted to the difficult playing conditions. “All the 22 players who made the trip got game time,” he said. “And they all played their part in helping to seal the result of this critical league fixture. It was a great display of intelligent rugby and showed the effort being put in during training.”