Header2014 IRFC

1st XV lose 12-21 to Rainey OB 1st XV


Photos thanks to Charles Beaumont



On Saturday 3 September 2022 Instonians welcomed Rainey OB to Shaws Bridge looking to build on their impressive win at Bangor the week before. Instonians were under no illusion as to the size of the task as they came up against a Rainey side who played their rugby in AIL Division 2A last season before dropping down after a play off. The glorious sunshine of the previous week was replaced by steady and consistent rain all day. In the warm up Josh Hartley suffered what looked like a serious ankle injury and left the ground on crutches to be taken for an x ray. We wish Josh well but it did not look good. It was great to see Mark Mairs given the captain’s armband today as he has been one of the team’s most consistent performers all of last year’s promotion season.


14:30 -   Rainey kicked off in front of a decent crowd considering the poor weather and immediately went on the offensive using their huge pack of forwards running hard at the Instonians defence. Instonians worked very hard in defence but were conceding metres and eventually succumbed to an early yellow card when Shalke van der Werwe put in a high tackle. The penalty was kicked to touch on Instonians 10 metre line and a great driving maul was followed by another penalty and kick to touch deep in the Instonian 22. This time the driving maul resulted in a try which was converted.

14:39 – Instonians 0 – Rainey OB 7

Instonians then enjoyed a short spell of decent possession themselves but good defence from Rainey stemmed the threat. Rainey then attacked again and a quick tap penalty put Instonians under pressure and Rainey’s powerful ball carriers made good ground and from front foot ball they moved the ball intelligently right and back left deep into Instonians 22. It took good Instonians cover defence to tackle the very tall Rainey winger into touch near the corner flag.

14:44 – Instonians then lost their own line out just inside their 22 and a strong run from the Rainey No. 8 resulted in a penalty in front of the posts. With their pack on top and Instonians still a man down it was no surprise that the scrum option was taken under the posts. A big Rainey scrum resulted in a penalty try and at this stage the writing looked to be on the wall for the home side.

14:48 – Instonians 0 – Rainey OB 14

Rainey continued to attack and build pressure on Instonians who defended well but it was getting stretched. Then following another line out and great driving maul from Rainey they released the ball at just the right time and a lovely pass from the Rainey out half put the very tall left winger in on the left and he ran round to make the conversion easier. The home support were now worried that this might be a very damaging defeat on the cards.

14:57 – Instonians 0 – Rainey OB 21

This Instonian squad does not lack character however and they went straight on the offensive. From a penalty and kick to touch 15 metres out from the Rainey line the platform was set. A clean catch was moved to the back but a knock on followed and the chance was gone. Instonians had noticeably upped a gear however and a good driving maul from a line out saw Rainey collapse it and a penalty and kick to the corner set up an attacking line out 10 metres out. A clean catch from Harry Gallagher and driving maul was stopped short of the line by Rainey but Instonians did not panic and they controlled possession with carries from left to right across in front of the Rainey posts. They then moved the ball right for Davy Scott to dive over near the right hand touchline. Jonathan Milliken fresh from 9 out of 9 the week before could not convert in more difficult conditions today. Instonians were now on the score board however and were putting Rainey under pressure.

15:11 – Instonians 5 – Rainey OB 21

Instonians went on the offensive again and their own driving maul (such a weapon last season in their promotion year) had Rainey under pressure with their no 8 being given a yellow card for a high tackle when their defence was getting stretched.

Instonians kept the pressure on as they searched the score to put them right back in the contest. A massive drive off a line out and another penalty against Rainey resulted in a kick to the corner 10 metres out. A Mark Mairs catch and set provided the perfect platform. The ball was controlled as the pack patiently moved it under the posts but just when the try looked inevitable Instonians lost possession just short of the line. An injury to a Rainey player was followed by the half time whistle.

HALF TIME - Instonians 5 – Rainey OB 21


15:18 – Instonians kicked offlooking to build on their strong finish to the half and to move the big Rainey pack around the pitch. Instonians immediately went on the attack but Rainey defended well. Neil Saulters replaced Conor Gallagher at hooker for his first outing of the season.

Rainey then responded with their own period of good possession using their big strong runners again. A penalty and kick to the Instonian 22 and very good driving maul off the line out was well stopped by Instonians after the first surge. A good Instonians scrum was followed by a penalty and with Rainey spoken to by the ref for playing players without the ball.

15:27 – Both sides to their credit continued to try to move the ball in wet conditions as the rain persisted all game. Rainey applied pressure into the Instonian 22 and when they were given a penalty under the posts they declined the easy 3 points and opted for a scrum. A scrum penalty followed for collapsing against Instonians. When Rainey chose to scrum again another score looked likely but quick thinking by scrum-half Matthew Keane spoilt the pick up from the visiting no 8. Rainey went after the Instonians scrum however and earned a penalty. This tine their no 8 tapped and went but was held up over the line and Instonians were awarded the drop out.

15:39 – Rainey went on the attack but a great tackle from Davy Scott resulted in a penalty to Instonians and a huge kick from Matthew Keane set up an attacking line out on the Rainey 22. Instonians moved the ball left off the line out and only good defence from Rainey culminating in a good relieving jackal kept Instonians out.

15:47 – It was now Rainey’s turn to attack and using their driving maul off the line out their 9 saw the opportunity to accelerate through a gap in the Instonians defence but great cover by Paul Pritchard saw him recover the ball in his 22 and call for the mark.

15:51 With 10 minutes to go the fitness of this Instonian squad as evidenced at Bangor last week and throughout the promotion campaign last season was clear to see and they finished very strongly. They moved the ball sweetly through the hands deep in their own half to left wing Frazer Laughlin who made good ground and then the ball was moved back right to stretch the Rainey defence but a penalty for not releasing stopped the attack. Instonians were now ticking however and a great counter ruck in midfield was followed by a penalty which Matthew Keane kicked to the Rainey 22 for a line out. Harry Gallagher was taken out in the air and from that penalty the next line out was just 10 metres out from the Rainey line. Rainey were now under real pressure but showed great character to contest and win the line out.

15:54 – Instonians kept attacking though and were moving the big Rainey pack around the pitch. A high tackle from the Rainey no 8 resulted in a 2nd yellow and then a great break in midfield from Jonathan Milliken (slotting in at 10 today in the absence of Ruari O’Farrell) saw him jink left and then right with only scrambled Rainey defence preventing an Instonian score under the posts.

15:58 – The Rainey coaching team will be pleased with their defence as Instonians had them under huge pressure as the clock ran down. They held up Instonians next attack and when a maul was called they got the put in to the scrum. Instonians were not finished though and a great defensive scrum surged them forward. In retreat Rainey carried over their own posts to give Instonians a scrum under the posts. A solid scrum gave Instonians the platform to control possession and show good composure and patience to move the ball right and then back left and with Rainey’s defence stretched a smart pass from Matthew Keane saw Harry Gallagher dive over under the posts with not a hand on him.

16:01 – Instonians 12 – Rainey OB 21

Instonians did not want this game to end and were playing great open attacking rugby as the rain continued to fall. Great interlinking between forwards and backs saw them attack left and back right as they kept the ball alive and only a knock on in midfield stopped what looked a promising opportunity.

FULL TIME -   Instonians 12 – Rainey OB 21

As with most sports you learn more from a defeat than a win and that is certainly the case with this match. Pleasing as the result at Bangor last week was, this defeat to a Rainey side with a very big pack (who will no doubt perform well in AIL 2B this season as they try to get back up to 2A) showed Instonians the areas they need to work on to improve on. Bangor certainly responded well this week with an away win at Belfast Harlequins. Instonians next challenge is another testing one at another AIL 2B side Dungannon next Friday night with a 8 p.m. kick off. Great to be playing our good friends at Stevenson Park again and reigniting that old rivalry.

MOM this week goes to Paul Pritchard who combined his player coach role to help steady the ship early on and helped captain Mark Mairs to get the team back in the game and take the game to Rainey during the 2nd half.

Thanks to Rainey for the game and to the ref for helping to let the game flow in difficult decisions. We wish affable President Dylan Davies and the Rainey club every success for the season ahead. To all Instonians we hope to see many of you next Friday night in Dungannon for the next test for this close knit 1st XV squad.