Header2014 IRFC

1st XV win 48-14 at home to Rainey RFC 1st XV - promotion nearly there!!


On Saturday 23 March 2024 Instonians welcomed the very affable Rainey President Dylan Davies and his party to a packed pre match lunch at Shaws Bridge where the theme was Instonians Easter U20 tournaments which Des O’Donnell started it in 1981 with Geoff Goldsborough providing the Goldsborough trophy which is still played for today and Geoff who was a guest along with Sean and Jenny Truesdale from Surface Corrosion Consulting Ltd who are the generous sponsor of this year’s event. Also in attendance was Jonathan Finlay and Susan Wilson from Finlay Wealth, Instonians main sponsor.

With just 3 league games left the equation was simple for Instonians, they needed 7 points to win promotion for the 3rd year in succession. Rainey had just missed out on the play offs due to Sligo’s great recent form pipping them for 4th position in the table. The weather forecast was poor with strong winds and heavy rain with brief interludes of better brighter weather.

14:30 Instonians 0 – Rainey 0

Instonians kicked off towards the far car pack with a wind behind them which looked worth between 15-20 points. Richie McMaster used it immediately to kick deep into the Rainey 22 in the far-right hand corner.

14:33 Instonians 7 – Rainey 0

Rainey did well to reach their own 22 where Instonians won their line out and immediately moved the ball infield. From the next ruck scrum-half Ruari O’Farrell found David Whitten who ran a superb line to break free and sidestep the last defender to score a great individual try near to the posts giving Richie McMaster an easy conversion.

14:40 Instonians 12 – Rainey 0

Instonians continued to use the strong wind with both Richie McMaster and Bradley McNamarra to the fore and then came the 1st scrum of the match with an Instonian put in on the halfway line on Instonians right. Gary Dillon took off from the base of the scrum on a great break, bursting through the Rainey defence before passing to his captain Mark Keane on the right wing on the 22 to race up the touchline and score in the corner. Simple but clinical. Richie McMaster just missed a difficult touchline conversion in the swirling wind.

14:44 Instonians 17 – Rainey 0

Instonians had their tails up and when they got a penalty at the breakdown Ruari O’Farrell took a quick tap and a slick transfer across the backline saw Bradley McNamara go over in the corner. Richie McMaster missed the touchline conversion but less than 15 minutes into the match Instonians had already achieved the points you would have expected with this strong wind at your backs. They now had over 25 minutes to add to it.

14:47 Instonians 24 – Rainey 0

There was no let up from the home side and after great hands across the backline it was that man David Whitten again who took a nice inside pass from his captain Mark Keane on the right wing to crash over for the bonus point try in the corner on the right. This time Richie McMaster nailed a superb touchline conversion.

14:59 Instonians 29 – Rainey 0

To their credit Rainey responded and used their big pack to gain some ground into the strong wind. They won a scrum penalty on their own 10 metre line and a good low kick into the wind found touch on the Instonian 10 metre line. Instonians stole the line out and another great break by David Whitten saw him put in a great grubber kick to the far righthand corner which Ruari O’Farrell almost was able to gather just 5 metres out.

Again Rainey were able to exit well from the line out to their own 22. Ian Whitten ran a good line from the line out and when the ball was recycled his young brother David saw that the gap was on the left and he drew his man superbly to give young left wing Stefan Hillebrand a try on his AIL debut. What a proud moment for this young man and his family watching from the touchline. Richie McMaster went very close with the touchline conversion but this match was all but over now with less than half an hour gone.

15:01 Instonians 36 – Rainey 0

Instonians were in the mood for more though and superb hands from the backs from deep saw centre Bevan Prinsloo give an exquisite pass at pace and drawing his man to find Stefan Hillebrand on the left wing and he scorched up the touchline into space before passing inside to the supporting Ruari O’Farrell near the line to score near the posts with Richie McMaster adding the extras.

15:13 Instonians 43 – Rainey 0

The rain was now belting down making it very difficult for all the players but Bevan Prinsloo managed to use his great power and strength to burst through under the posts from the Rainey 22 giving Richie McMaster the easiest of conversions. The half time whistle blew on a superb 1st half performance from Instonians. The wind advantage was worth between 15-20 points but the scoreline was now well over double that.

HALF TIME –Instonians 43 – Rainey 0

The half-time team talk for Instonians would have been simple enough. Great 1st half but we are now playing into the very strong wind so lets see how our defence holds up. Similarly Rainey will have been reeling from that clinical Instonians 1st half display but would have been looking for plenty of points themselves with the elements now in their favour.

15:19 Instonians 43 – Rainey 0

Rainey kicked off and Richie McMaster responded with a great kick into the wind to almost reach halfway.

At this stage Bradley McNamarra had to go off injured and a backline reshuffle saw Richie McMaster replacing him at 15, Ruari O’Farrell moving to outhalf and Rhys O’Donnell coming on at 9 fresh from his international win for the Ireland Club XV out in Lisbon against Portugal A.

15:28 Instonians 43 – Rainey 0

Oli Clarke had now replaced Neil Saulters at hooker as Instonians won a scrum penalty near halfway and the 1st bit of carelessness from the home side was not bringing Richie McMaster up from fullback to kick to touch. Captain Mark Keane did not find touch and Rainey immediately used the wind to put the ball the length of the pitch to have Instonians regather near their own try line.

The weather was now so bad that there was nobody left on the balcony as they had all moved back into the clubhouse.

It was so hard for the players to play rugby in these conditions and unfortunately the only significant event was what looked like a really bad ankle injury to Stefan Hillebrand and we wish him well with his recovery. With a 4 to 1 split on the bench there were no backs left there but Jack Parkinson showed his great flexibility to come on there despite being effectively the 3rd hooker in the squad while also covering the backrow.

15:48 Instonians 48 – Rainey 0

Instonians had swopped their entire front row by now with Anton Lupari, Neil Saulters and Alan Whitten all off and Schalk Van Der Merwe, Oli Clarke and Liam Kaprigiannis on. The scrum remained as solid as ever and Rhys O’Donnell ran a nice loop with David Whitten on the blindside before passing to Mark Keane on the right wing. The Rainey defender however was sent to the bin for deliberately knocking the ball on.

It got worse for Rainey as this time Richie McMaster was brought up from fullback to find touch in the Rainey 22 and a superb maul saw Oli Clarke touch down at the back of it to score into the wind in the far-right corner. No surprise that Richie McMaster missed the conversion into the wind and rain.

15:56 Instonians 48 – Rainey 7

Rainey continued to use the wind well and encamped themselves in the Instonian 22 and stayed there. Instonians defended well and a great tackle from Shalk Van Der Merwe saw Instonians get hold of the ball. When they tried to run the ball from their own line they were intercepted by the Rainey 13 to score under the posts giving an easy conversion.

Rainey had certainly deserved this score for the pressure they had been putting on.

16:01 Instonians 48 – Rainey 14

There was still time for Rainey to add to their score with a great run from their no 4 to run in from the Instonian 10 metre line. The conversion was duly added to be followed by the final whistle.

FULL TIME – Instonians 48– Rainey 14

This was a great performance by Instonians in very difficult conditions and following Wanderers defeat at home to Sligo it is only 1 point that is needed now to win the league and promotion for the 3rd season running. In fact, with the huge points difference it is all but done. The focus is on the trip to 2nd place Galway Corinthians next week who will be really up for it as they look to secure home advantage in the play offs. Our job is to go for another win and celebrate in Galway with a 2 nighter but the opposition will be tough as we know.

Rainey never gave up and deserved their 2 tries in the 2nd half and remain in 5th place in the table with just 2 games to go.

MOM today was the easiest all season and not for the 1st time is was David Whitten who was simply superb all match. There were so many good performances as well but a shout out to Ali Burke who has been looking for his chance to get into the squad again as the competition is fierce but he took it with both hands today and was prominent in the loose as well as doing his job in the tight.

There is a growing band of Instonian support now deciding to spend the Easter weekend in Galway. No better place, see you all there.