Danske Bank Subsidiary Shield S/F: Down High 39 -10 Rainey Endowed
Down High and Rainey played out a physical and entertaining encounter in Magherafelt on Saturday in their Danske Bank Subsidiary Shield semi final. Despite Rainey starting strongest it was the Co. Down side whose mature performance allowed them to emerge as victors whilst securing a place in the final.
In the opening minutes, Rainey applied a lot of pressure in the Down High half and were helped by some defensive errors by the visiting side. This pressure generated a penalty on the 5 minute mark and Rainey opted for the kick at posts but the ball drifted wide. However Rainey did get reward for their hard work when they crashed over the line 10 minutes in. The conversion attempt drifted wide.
The restart following Rainey's try allowed Down to regain vital territory and within 5 minutes the boys in green had got their own scoring account opened. Captain William Martin crashed over the whitewash, taking a pass from Claytan Milligan following some patient phase play in the Rainey 22. Charlie Power's conversion attempt fell short. However Power soon added to the Down tally when he slotted 3 points after Rainey were deemed to be offside at a breakdown.
For the remainder of the first half Down managed territory effectively and coupled with good discipline in defence, they kept Rainey well pinned in their quarters. With 5 minutes to go before the break Matthew Porter extended the Down lead when he spotted a gap in the Rainey defence and took a neat pass off Lewis Finlay to dive over. Power added the extras giving Down a 15-5 lead going into the interval.
The second half got off to a pleasing start for the Downpatrick lads when Charlie Power landed a penalty with only 3 minutes played.
Despite conceding these early points Rainey kept fighting and forced Down to spend a considerable period of time defending however the visitors system stayed in tact.
With 15 minutes gone in the half, wing Harry Hitchens chased an excellent Jack Carlisle grubber kick and got the touchdown. Power had no problem converting.
Power then put the result beyond doubt when he intercepted the ball on a Rainey attack and had the straightforward job of running in for a try under the posts. He duly added the extras.
Down High emptied their bench with 12 minutes to go and despite some excellent performances from the replacements, Rainey did manage an unconverted consolation try.
The visitors had the final say of the day when Marcus Graham showed some excellent evasion skills to finish off a counter attack that had been started by second row Tom Martin who had an impressive showing throughout the match. Power added the 2 points leaving Down with a 39 points to 10 points victory at the final whistle.
Down will now play either Wallace or Coleraine, who drew on Saturday in their semi final. The final will be played at the Kingspan Stadium on Monday 14th March. Kick off will be at 2.30pm.
Ticketing information will be available via @downhighrugby twitter page in the coming days.