Header2014 IRFC

1st XV win 61-28 at Rainey OB 1st XV


On Saturday 21 October 2023 Instonians travelled to Magherafelt to take on a Rainey side that had only lost their last home match 33-31 to a strong Sligo team and had a kick to win the game.

As ever the hospitality and craic from Rainey OB President Dylan Davies was fantastic at the pre match lunch which was simply superb.

With Rainey’s strength in their forward pack Instonians had gone for a 4/1 split on the bench with the talented Ruari O’Farrell as the only back.

Storm Babet had run its course through the week and it was now a perfect day for running rugby being dry overhead and just a slight breeze as the sizeable crowd eagerly anticipated a local Ulster derby.

14:30 Rainey OB 0 – Instonians 0

In bright sunshine and playing with the slight breeze Rainey OB kicked off deep and Mark Mairs leapt into the air to take a fine catch and then was first up on the chase from a fine box kick from scrum-half Rhys O’Donnell but in his eagerness, he was penalised for contact on the receiver.

Rainey OB immediately went to their pack from the resulting line out on the Instonian 22 metre line. They used their driving maul to advance but once it stopped moving forward Liam Kaprigiannis was quick to pounce and pinch the ball.

14:39 Rainey OB 0 – Instonians 0

Instonians then laid down a marker as to how they intended to approach this game and it was to use the favourable conditions to keep the ball in hand and test the Rainey OB defence. They played at a quick tempo too as the ball was swiftly moved across the backline from left to right and back again. The good handling was not restricted to the backs however with all 15 players adept with ball in hand and good support runners and lines.

After numerous passages of play Instonians turned down a kick at goal over 30 metres out in centrefield and kicked for a line out just inside the Rainey OB 22 metre line. They went through the phases showing great patience and control with right wing Zak Davidson eventually held up over the line in the far-right hand corner giving Rainey OB the relieving drop out.

Instonians came straight back again, and it looked like they would open the scoring when Rhys O’Donnell sniped from a ruck and gave a lovely inside pass to the supporting Bevan Prinsloo who broke clear but unfortunately did not see both Rhys and Bradley McNamarra on his inside in time and when the pass came it was forward and the chance had gone.

14:45 Rainey OB 7 – Instonians 0

It did seem just a matter of time until the 1st score came and so it proved. The surprise however, was that it was the home side who got it. Instonians had gone through multiple phases again and then moved the ball along the backline deep in the Rainey 22 metre line when the Rainey OB no 13 intercepted what would have been a try scoring pass to run the full length of the pitch and score under the posts.

Rainey OB had spent the first 15 minutes of the match defending, made a lot of good tackles and now found themselves ahead.

14:50 Rainey OB 7 – Instonians 5

Undeterred Instonians dusting themselves down and stuck to the gameplan. With no 8 Gary Dillon and blindside wing forward David Whitten to the fore in an impressive period of continuity and ball retention, Instonians both found space and created it finishing it off with a slick transfer from right to left by the backline with Bradley McNamarra diving over in the far-left corner. Richie McMaster hit the post with the conversion attempt from the touchline.

14:57 Rainey OB 7 – Instonians 12

The pattern of the game continued with Instonians keeping the ball alive and putting pressure on the home defence which in fairness was holding up well. Then from a line out Gary Dillon made a great break up the middle of the pitch and found willing support runners. Captain Robert Whitten then took the ball on deep into the Rainey OB 22 where Paul Pritchard was on hand to take the final pass and force his way over under the posts giving Richie McMaster an easy conversion.

15:06 Rainey OB 7 – Instonians 19

The lack of scrums in the game so far was largely down to the quality of handling in the game but when the opportunity presented itself to Instonians with a put in just outside their 22 they won a scrum penalty and Richie McMaster then found touch on the halfway line.

From the line out Instonians produced another excellent spell of continuity between forwards and backs with everyone seeming to want to get their hands on the ball but more importantly to keep moving the ball to players in better positions. The support runners and lines of running were also first class. To their credit Rainey OB defended very well but they were having to make so many tackles and in almost a carbon copy of Bradley McNamara’s try earlier this time it was left wing Matthew Keane who did very well to stay in touch to go over in the corner from inside centre Davy Scott’s final pass. Richie McMaster added the extras with a great conversion from the touchline on the wrong side of the pitch for a left footed kicker.

15:10 Rainey OB 7 – Instonians 19

Having conceded a scrum penalty at the last scrum Rainey OB will probably not have liked to see Instonians now bring on 2 new props especially as they were Alan Whitten and Schalke Van Der Merwe.

Right on half time however, an excellent 50-22 from the Rainey OB full back gave the home side the perfect opportunity to make it a 1 score game at the break. They won the line out and used their driving maul to advance but Mark Mairs then came up with a great jackal to win the penalty which Richie McMaster tapped and then kicked into touch to end the half.

HALF TIME –Rainey OB 7 – Instonians 19

Instonians will have been very happy with their 1st half performance but probably feeling that they should have had more points on the scoreboard. Rainey OB will have been pleased to stay in touch having spent most of the first half defending and to their credit defending well. You felt that the next score was crucial, and Rainey OB simply had to get it.

15:19 Rainey OB 7 – Instonians 19

Instonians kicked off with the slight breeze in their favour with the crowd aware how important the next score was.

An early scrum to Instonians near the halfway line saw Gary Dillon make a great break off the base and fed right wing Zak Davidson who was tackled deep in the opposition 22. From the ruck that followed Rainey OB received a yellow card for impeding the 9 and Instonians chose the scrum option. A great Instonian scrum marched Rainey OB back to their try line where Gary Dillon appeared to score the try his performance richly deserved but there must have been a Jordy Barrett bit of defending in there from Rainey OB as they were awarded a drop out.

15:26 Rainey OB 7 – Instonians 26

Instonians immediately ran back the drop out and some great hands in the backline down the left hand touchline on the clubhouse side looked as if it would result in a try but Rainey OB intercepted the final pass near the line. No length of the pitch intercept run this time however as there was too much traffic.

Instead Rainey OB found touch just inside their own 22 metre line. From the line out however, Instonians produced a great driving maul which powered its way over the try line for hooker Neil Saulters to dive over to secure the bonus point with a 4th try. Richie McMaster added the extras 10 metres in from the touchline.

That was to be the last action for both players as Ollie Clarke came on at hooker and Ruari O’Farrell at 10.

15:30 Rainey OB 7 – Instonians 33

When Instonians next got their hands on the ball they produced another outstanding period of continuity with great hands in the backline and then excellent willing support runners from the pack with Schalk Van Der Merwe finishing the move off by crashing over the try line. Matthew Keane added the conversion 10 metres in for the righthand touchline.

Eoghan Murphy then came on to replace Paul Pritchard with Mark Mairs moving to the back row meaning all the bench were now on for Instonians.

15:33 Rainey OB 7 – Instonians 40

There was no let up from Instonians and the rugby they were playing was great to watch though maybe it was not so easy a watch for the home support. You did not have to wait long for the next score and what a try it was.

Rhys O’Donnell broke free from a ruck just inside his own half and sidestepped his way through the first line of defence. He then found Mark Mairs on his inside with a back of the hand off load. Mark looked as if he might make the try line himself but instead gave an over the head pass to beat the last man and give the supporting attacker Ruari O’Farrell the try.

15:35 Rainey OB 7 – Instonians 47

It was a case of anything you can do I can do better as following the kick off from Rainey OB Instonians decided to run the ball from deep and when young fullback Bradley McNamarra got his hands on the ball he showed his vast array of skills by beating several players up the righthand touchline and the showed his afterburners by running in from the halfway line to dive over for a great individual try. Matthew Keane added the extras and with 25 minutes still to go you feared for the home side.

15:39 Rainey OB 7 – Instonians 54

The Rainey restart did not go 10 metres giving Instonians a scrum on the halfway line. A magnificent scrum saw Rainey marched back 15 metres and Rhys O’Donnell shaped to kick for a line out on the righthand touchline but instead tapped and fed Ruari O’Farrell on his left. Ruari released his backline who again showed great hands and Ruari himself was there to take the final pass and score under the posts. Matthew Keane added the extras.

15:41 Rainey OB 14– Instonians 54

Credit to Rainey OB as it would have been easy to through the towel in but they responded well and a great break from their no 8 set up a ruck in the Instonian 22 and the 10 gave a nice long pass missing out 2 players for the outside man to run round under the posts giving an easy conversion. The result of the game was long gone but Rainey now had over 15 minutes to try to get 2 more tries and a bonus point.

Instonians swopped their props back over with Anton Lupari and Liam Karayanis coming back on and helping to produce a huge scrum in the Rainey 22 marching 15 metres to the line where again Gary Dillon thought he had scored. Same result as before however, as a goal line drop out was given.

15:47 Rainey OB 14 – Instonians 61

From the drop out Instonians showed great intensity and control to go through the phases with very strong runners off the 9 before Anton Lupari eventually crashed over to the right of the posts with Matthew Keane adding the extras.

15:55 Rainey OB 21 – Instonians 61

Rainey OB now had less than 10 minutes to get the 2 scores they needed and to their credit they put everything into their next attack as they encamped in the Instonian 22 and after a series of penalties centre Davy Scott was sent to the bin. Rainey OB eventually got over the line under the posts and it was now a case of was there enough time left for the crucial 4th try ?

15:58 Rainey OB 28 – Instonians 61

From a line out just inside the Instonian half the Rainey OB 10 put in a lovely chip over the rushing Instonian defence and the ball bounced up perfectly for their 13 to again show his pace and outstrip the defence to get the crucial 4th bonus point try just to the left of the posts. The conversion was good and the final whistle was blown.

FULL TIME – Rainey OB 28 – Instonians 61

A great finish to the match for Rainey OB as despite a heavy defeat they came away with a bonus point as they go into the break next week.

For Instonians this was a very good performance as this side continues to gel. They will be disappointed with their last 5 minutes or so but very pleased with what went before. They go into the break with 3 wins and all with bonus points but as per last season the only focus will be on Saturday 4 November at 2.30 p.m.and the visit of a strong Sligo side to Shaws Bridge.

It was such a good team performance today that it was difficult to single out a MOM today so we will go for a joint award of 1 forward and 1 back. The forward is no 8 Gary Dillon who gave an explosive performance off the base of the scrum and in his support play and carries. The back is young fullback Bradley McNamarra who is thriving in a backline that hardly dropped a ball today despite playing at quite a tempo.