03/04/10 Promotion Joy For Shire With Hard Fought Win
Helensburgh 14-23 Aberdeenshire 1st XV
Another long bus trip down near the banks of Loch Lomond, the Shire men were welcomed by sunshine. The pitch was boggy in places but for the most part was firm underfoot, ideal for some running rugby. Shires back three were boosted with the return of “the born again virgin” Jaime Stephen as he slipped back into the 15 jersey accompanied by his huge right boot in a very accomplished comeback.
Helensburgh claimed the first points with an easy penalty in front of the posts due to Shires ill-discipline at the breakdown. Some good work from the Shire pack and territorial kicking led to an easy penalty for Stefan Cole. With the scores tied up at 3 a piece, the first try of the game was claimed by Doug Jones. A kick was charged down by the wrecking ball number 2 and using his gazelle like speed he crashed down over the white wash. Although Shire seemed to have control of the game Helensburgh fought back and claimed a try of their own with a crash ball twelve, who powered his way through the first up tackles to score beneath the posts after a driven lineout that just came up short. The final points of the half came from the boot of Helensburgh number ten who hit a penalty from a long way out, ending the first half 11-10 to the home side.
The game remained a close contest as very little separated the two sides at half time. Again the first points of the second period came from the boot of Helensburgh number ten as he slotted a well struck drop goal. Fortunately these were the last points of the home side as a determined and committed Shire team exerted their dominance at the set pieces and the break down. Stefan Cole regained the Shire lead as he struck another penalty between the posts. The third try of the match was claimed by “man of the match” Doug Jones with the help of the rest of the pack. Line out ball was claimed close to the home sides try line and a well formed, powerful maul pushed the Shire forwards across the line. This score was even more impressive with the Shire pack being 1 down with Andrew Cook spending 10 minutes on the naughty boys chair for persistent offsides, replacement scrum-half Leith did add his slightly less bulky frame to the drive for that extra shove! As the pressure mounted the final and crucial score of the game was created by Martyn Snell playing at number seven, rather than his usual role in the centre, he broke away drawing in two defenders to create space for impact sub Gary Leith to score a vital try in the context of the match and the whole season. Stefan Cole converted to leave the score at 23-14. Shire did push for the bonus point try but it just didn’t come. Helensburgh to their credit tried to attack whenever possible but the tough organised Shire defence returned just in time to deal with all second half assaults.
With the bonus point just missed the Shire players, coaches and supporters had to wait for the other results to mathematically confirm promotion. The away changing room rang out with Sung by the Shire when Colin Bell announced defeats for both GHK and Marr! Even with the bus driver taking the scenic route home all onboard were happy passengers!
A season of great highs and lows finishes with the initial goal complete - promotion to National 2! Back to back promotion really is a fantastic achievement for all involved with this grand old club be it players, coaches, committee members and loyal supporters.
The 1st XV still have 2 games remaining with the final away game against Marr this weekend being the sixth long bus journey in a row for the travel weary Shire team. All at the club will sorely welcome the final league match at home against Hillfoots the following Saturday where the celebrations can really begin! Hopefully now that the job is done the team can throw off its shackles and play with the flare and pace that ultimately won us promotion!
Squad: 15. J.Stephen 14. M.Maclugash 13. R.Anderson 12. G.Cunningham 11. K.Penman 10. S.Cole 9. D.Roberts
1. A.Sutherland 2. D.Jones 3. S.Mountain 4. J.Mason 5. R.Strachan 6. C.Livingston (c) 7. M.Snell 8. A.Cook
16. M.Roulston 17. S.Cook 18. G.Leith
Tries: Jones 2, Leith
Pens: Cole 2
Report: Kenny Penman / Gary Leith
27/03/10 Forrester Blow Shire Away For The League Double
Forrester 16-6 Aberdeenshire 1st XV
On a fine day in Aberdeen to play a game of rugby Shire got on the bus and made the journey down to Edinburgh to face Forrester. On arrival two things were apparent (1) The club house was not beside the pitch and (2) the high winds on the day – thankfully not from second row Mason for a change – would have an impact on the game as the team to best use the conditions would have the edge.
Shire went into the game on the back of two defeats but still in the knowledge that two victories from their final four games would see the team promoted to National 2. Shire also had a few changes to the team from the previous weeks as injuries took their toll on the squad. The team welcomed back the old war-horse Russell Hempsey to the front row, the seasoned pro Ryan Mountain to the back row, the reliable Dave Roberts to scrum half, the experienced pairing of Martyn Snell and Robbie ‘Sparrow’ Anderson to the centre berths and the ‘other old git’ Mike Roulston came on to the bench. Mike was joined on the bench by Kris Gilmartin returning from injury and the wee man….. his son Logan.
Forrester kicked of the game into the strong wind which was now blowing straight down the park from behind the Shire lads. From the off the Shire pack took the game to their opponents and looked to have the better of the early exchanges up front as the team worked into nice areas in the opposition half. Unfortunately for Shire it was again this final third on the pitch that proved to be difficult to crack as Forrester defended with great commitment. The shire team too often coughed up possession or conceded penalties that allowed their opposition to clear their lines. Shire set out to score tries and so penalties were used to create platforms from which a chance could be created. It was from such a line out that the most likely try-scoring moment of the half occurred as centre Snell ignored the run of Cole from fullback to ghost around the outside centre to find open space only to just be collared by an opponent. If only the Orcadian had been fully fit he may well have burst through to the try line – or at least this reporter thinks so anyway! Like the wind Shire huffed and puffed with the forwards rumbling down the park but alas a try could not be mustered. All Shire had for their endeavour was two penalties from Parker and a slender half time lead. Half Time 6-3.
At half time the Shire team knew they had wasted some good opportunities to extend their lead and that with the high wind in their faces it would be a difficult second half.
No sooner had the second half started than front rower Hempsey had to depart the field with a back problem leaving Shire one short in the front row and the game without any more contested scrums. This did not weaken the pack however as the big ball carriers Mason and Chalmers from the boiler house as well as the two Mountains charged upfield following the example set by captain Cavey and the ninth forward Roberts. But as was the problem in the first half the final third appeared to be a bridge to far and with the wind on their backs Forrester were able to handsomely clear their lines and put the ball back into the Shire 22. The clearance kicks also proved testing for the Shire back 3 to deal with although when caught successfully an effective counter was usually launched. Unfortunately it was from such a clearance kick that the turning point in the game occurred as the ball was fumbled into touch the quicker reactions of the Forrester players got the ball back into play and surging for the line only excellent cover notably from Sparrow held up what otherwise would have been a certain try. From the resultant scrum however Shire leaked the vital try.
Credit to the Shire team for not giving up and giving the Forrester team a hard game right until the final whistle. No-one more felt the battle than the Forrester inside centre who, like half the female population of Aberdeen, wanted to give our Stef a ‘Glasgow kiss’. Unfortunately for our lady friends the centre came worst off and Stef lives to roam another day as both players were able to play out the game. In the latter stages of the game mistakes crept into the Shire game and the home fullback was more than happy to use the wind and keep his team in the ascendency closing out the game with long range penalties.
Full Time Forrester 16 – 6 Aberdeenshire
At the full time whistle Shire knew that the lack of chances taken in the first half had cost them dear although the overall team performance had improved greatly on previous weeks. The only thing that lightened the mood for the journey north was finding out that both Marr and GHK had also lost meaning that a single victory in their final three games for Shire should be enough to secure promotion after their first season in National 3.
Squad: 15. S.Cole 14. G.Cunningham 13. R.Anderson 12. M.Snell 11. K.Penman 10. S.Parker 9. D.Roberts
1. R.Hempsey 2. D.Jones 3. S.Mountain 4. J.Mason 5. R.Chalmers 6. C.Livingston (c) 7. A.Cook 8. R.Mountain
16. M.Roulston 17. K.Gilmartin 18. G.Leith
Pens: Parker 2
Report: Martyn Snell
27/02/10 Shire Do Double Over Local Rivals
Aberdeenshire 1st XV 31-12 Gordonians
Saturday saw the visit of local rivals Gordonians. For Aberdeenshire this match represented a chance to enhance their promotion chances, particularly with promotion contenders Marr loosing at home to Hellensburgh. Neither side had played for several weeks due to adverse weather conditions despite this both were desperate for the points and bragging rights in the local derby.
Despite what was at stake shire began slowly and allowed Gordonians to dictate the pace of the game. However they were unable to capitalise on their dominance and only landed a couple of penalties following ill discipline at the breakdown from shire. This left the door open for a shire comeback that didn’t fully materialise until the second half. In fact Gordonians continued to play the more expansive rugby but still couldn’t quite manage to cross the Shire line.
Shire rallied late in the second half thanks to the dominance of their rolling maul and general forward strength. The maul was the source of the games only first half try a huge drive from the forwards culminated in a well deserved score for man of the match Steven Cook. Steven Parker added a couple of penalties and Gordonians winger Donald Prentice kicked another penalty before the break leaving the score 11-9 after a tight first half.
A strongly worded team talk seemed to have the desired effect on the home side that started the second half with a new found sense of urgency. Stefan Cole got the ball rolling with a well finished, breakaway try under the posts; this was converted by fly half Steven Parker leaving Aberdeenshire with a more comfortable lead. The home side continued to push forward and scored another try through Steven Cook from some more fine forward play.
Shire kicked another penalty as did Gordonians before Andrew Cook crossed in the move of the match. Some slick passing from Shire put Cook Jnr in space, he stepped past a couple of defenders, chipped over the full back and raced through to dive on the ball first to score the bonus point try. Robbie “sparrow” Anderson came off injured and was replaced by the Steve “the Tobinator” Tobin who filled in at inside centre for the rest of the game. Gordonians spent the remainder of the game pushing for a try but it eluded them and the derby finished Shire 31 Gordonians 12.
A satisfying second half performance leaves Aberdeenshire top of the league with a fragile 2 point lead over Allan Glen’s setting up a tight race for the championship. Gordonians sit in fourth place and it looks as though they’ll miss out on promotion.
Squad: 15. G.Cunningham 14. J.Oyesiku 13. S.Cole 12. M.Snell 11. M.Maclugash 10. S.Parker 9. M.White
1. S.Cook 2. S.Mountain 3. A.Sutherland 4. J.Mason 5. K.Gilmartin 6. C.Livingston (c) 7. S.Tobin 8. A.Cook
16. D.Jones 17. K.Penman 18. R.Anderson
Tries: S.Cook 2, A.Cook, Cole
Pens: Parker 3
Report: Joe Oyesiku
06/02/10 Shire Take The Scalp Of National 1 East Kilbride In Shield First Round
East Kilbride 18-18 Aberdeenshire 1st XV
(Shire go through on try count back 3-2 aet)
On Saturday saw Aberdeenshire travel southwards to face East Kilbride in their first round of the National Shield. It was going to be a daunting task ahead of the Woodside men, as the Lanarkshire side were two leagues above them in National 1.
As the Shire lads ran through their pre-game warm up, the side got together for a short team run to familiarize themselves with the new members that cracked the squad that week, such changes as young Paul Harrow making his way back into his spot on the wing, along with fellow wing-man Joe Oyesiku on the bench. With both centres Snell and Malign missing this saw a new look back line consisting of Ben Morris in for the retiring Gary Leith, Gavin Cunningham at inside and James Baxendale at outside centre, along with an inform Kenny Penman on one wing and the Kiwi Stefan Cole to take control of things at fullback. Along with the missing backs, there were also a lot of forwards unable to travel with the side this week. due to old age, work commitments or just being soft!
With the game underway and the Shire side receiving the first touch of the ball, this saw the game plan come to surface with territory the main aim. So as the ball was kicked back 'n forth like a ping pong ball, n the Woodside team getting the first upper hand with a penalty and a nicely placed kick for touch from stand off Steven Parker, found the lads with a rather handy line out 5 meters from the white line. This saw the very successful switcher 4 line out move called, proving too tricky for the opposition to figure out, this saw the big/plump prop Shaun 'Pumba' Mountain waddle over the line to dot down for Shires first score. Conversion unsuccessful: 5-0.
Not long after the restart EK placed a cleverly weighted kick to the boggy corner which saw Shire turn to scoop up the loose ball and a missed pass from Cole saw EK with their turn to strike, as the ball was re-gathered the quick line out option was taken to catch the Woodside team napping and the try was scored with the conversion good: 5-7. As the second half was coming to a close, both sides were pressing for the much needed score before the half time break. Both teams we're testing each other under the high ball to force the mistake, but it was at the break down that the mistake came from the EK side. With their open-side binned for 10mins for continuously killing the ball. The first half was seen out with Parker slotting a 3 pointer to give his side an upper-edge. 8-7
The ref signalling the start of the second half and a lot to play for both sides. With the game continuing as the first half did territory high on the cards. Now Shire playing down towards the boggier end of the pitch and the corners the targets, used to force EK to make the mistakes. With neither side getting any real momentum or go forward ball, it was time to see Kenny Penman spark into action with hard straight running, and managing to brake a few tackles to slip away from the opposition to dot down for his first try in a loooong time! 13-7
Not long after the Shire celebrations had died down, the home side felt it was time to give their supporters something to cheer about with a try of their own. A nice string phases leading up to the try to bring them within 1 point at 13-12. As both sides were beginning to tier, the Shire side were being stretched out wide but their scrambling defence stood strong. A few injuries struck the Woodside pack, with Stephan Cook going down with an injured knee which brought on Jamie Pope, and not long after saw Shaun 'Pumba' Mountain going off with an injured shoulder. Thus bringing the scrums to uncontested scrums. But it was at the break down the ref didn't like what he saw from Shire, and penalized them for slowing the ball down, which saw the EK stand off slot two easy 3 pointers in as many minutes to give them a slight edge on the visitors 13-18.
It was with 5 minutes remaining in the game, that saw the Shire side dig deep and mount their attack. With wave after wave of runners edging the pack down the field, an uncontested scrum given to the away side. This was the perfect time to seal a famous victory. The ball was scooped up at the back by Andrew 'Wee' Cook drawing in to defenders, a quick snap and change of direction with quick slick hands saw an overlap out wide and Ryan 'Man-Mountain' almost piercing the defence, but a short off load to Penman who cut back through the defenders to cross in the corner for his second of the day, to level the scoring. With a rather difficult conversion to kick Parker narrowly missed by hitting the upright leaving the score at 18-18 taking the game into extra time.
Even with 10 minutes each way of extra time being played neither team could capitalize and edge out in front. This saw Shire go through to the next round of the National Shield out scoring East Kilbride 3 tries to 2.
Squad: 15. S.Cole 14. P.Harrow 13. J.Baxendale 12. M.Maclugash 11. K.Penman 10. S.Parker 9. B.Morris
1. S.Cook 2. D.Jones 3. S.Mountain 4. J.Mason (c) 5. R.Mountain 6. K.Gilmartin 7. S.Tobin 8. A.Cook
16. D.Coull 17. G.Cunningham 18. J.Pope 19. J.Oyesiku
Tries: Penman 2, S.Mountain
Report: Stefan Cole
23/01/10 Shire Gain Sweet Revenge On A Day To Remember 'The Voice Of Rugby'
Aberdeenshire 1st XV 22-3 GHK
Rugby returned to Woodside after an enforced long lay-off caused by the arctic winter and subsequent frozen pitches, GHK made the long trip North for the second meeting of the season having scraped a 16-15 home victory way back in October.
Both teams observed a minute silence for the late Bill McLaren ,’’the voice of rugby’’ with Aberdeenshire also wearing white armbands as an additional mark of respect for the former Shireman.
The snow might have melted but the conditions were still gong to have a bearing on the style of play with soft ground, swirling winds and relentless rain. Shire started knowing that a student side would be fast and want to exploit their traits as a force out wide but a slippy ball was proving a barrier to any flowing play from both teams.
Shire responded with endeavour and mounted wave upon wave of pressure on the GHK defence it finally being thwarted by a clever cross kick from fly half Parker where Mike MacLugash "He’s like a demented ferret up a wee drainpipe" dived over in the corner to score proving that 3 legs are better that 2!!
With the conversion missed "That one was a bit inebriated – just like one of my golf shots" shire retained the ball from the restart and began the barrage once more. The scrums and line-outs were working well with a few minor timing problems but the ever growing dominance was there to see and this platform was set for Simon McGillewie to take advantage of some slack defending "He’s as quick as a trout up a burn" slithering through to score a 2nd try for Shire.
The half ended with the gub of Gary Leith and his cold wee hands being scrutinised by the ref who seen enough squint put in’s and backchat that he was eventually yellow carded. This led to the first and only points for GHK with the ever present Shire pack being controversially penalised leaving it up to the reliable boot of the GHK number 15, It’s high enough, it’s long enough AND IT’S STRAIGHT ENOUGH."
Half time 10-3
With only a converted score separating the teams the second half performance would need to be better and have a more professional approach. Down to 14 and a half men shire needed to keep it tight with the line outs and scrum starting to tick along with the discipline and straight running of the back line it was evident that shire were now in the hunt for the bonus point.
Restricting GHK to playing in their own 22 meant that composure and quick thinking would be the key to unlocking the stubborn defence. The introduction of wee Cook and the reintroduction of the ‘’Gub’’ Gary Leith was the turning point in the match with wee Cook showing experience beyond his years to take a quick line out and popped to Leith who sauntered in to score shire’s 3rd somewhat redeeming his earlier misdemeanor.
Tails were up and with star performers Kris Gilmartin and captain Caveman leading the line shire could smell blood and pushed for the bonus point. Camped in the GHK 22 the shire scrum piled on the pressure "Those props are as cunning as a bag o’ weasels" forcing the issue giving GHK no option but to kick to touch. It was from the line-out shire where to create a moment of magic that was to typify the second half performance John Mason called the line, Shaun Mountain found his man, switch from 4 to 2, Andrew Sutherland and Steven Cook drove on Chris Gillmartin, ball to the back…. "He’s like a raging bull with a bad head" Shaun Mountain emerges with the ball and pounces over the line to an almighty applause, bonus point done!
With 10 to go all it was a case of keeping the momentum and the conversion was successful "He kicked that ball like it were three pounds o’ haggis" a 22-3 score line in appalling conditions equals a scintillating performance.
Full time score 22-3.
More scores should have came in a match dominated by the home side but lack of match sharpness can be excused for this after such a long lay off. More importantly the Shire teams desire and confidence was on show in spades which led to a very good team performance that the squad can build on.
It is only fitting that the last word goes to the great gentleman of rugby Bill McLaren. A voice, a man that will never be forgotten nor surpassed in the World of rugby.
Squad: 15. S.McGillewie 14. G.Cunningham 13. S.Cole 12. M.Snell 11. M.Maclugash 10. S.Parker 9. G.Leith
1. S.Cook 2. S.Mountain 3. A.Sutherland 4. J.Mason 5. D.Jones 6. C.Livingston (c) 7. S.Tobin 8. K.Gilmartin
16. A.Cook 17. K.Penman 18. R.Anderson
Tries: Maclugash, McGillewie, Leith, Mountain
Report: Andy Sutherland
13/12/09 Character And Desire Shown In Hard Fought Win In The Borders
Hawick Linden 12-19 Aberdeenshire 1st XV
A cold and early start for the Shire for another important league game against Hawick Linden (still the worst spelling name for any town ever) couldn’t dampen the boys’ eagerness to improve on their performance against Allan Glens the previous week. With a number of key players missing, including ‘captain fantastic’ Craig Livingston (due to his new born 10 pound baby girl), The old man ‘Captain Jack’ Sparrow who was off sailing down the River Thames, the big man Andy Sutherland and Matt ‘f@cked for life’ Barker who traveled on this long trek to support his teammates. This made room for new faces in the team and special mention must be made for Paul Harrow as he made his debut for the first team.
The game started well for the Shire, receiving the kick off and applying some early pressure on the home team. Having given away a couple of penalties, the pressure was put right back on the away team when they finally conceding a penalty right in front of the post Hawick took the lead from a neat shot at goal from the number 10.
Shire tried to put the pressure back on but seemed to give away penalties every time a ruck had formed. Stand-in skipper John Mason must have been his charming self speaking to the referee before the game because he seemed to ping him over and over again for hands in the ruck, the home team gratefully accepting the opportunity to kick a further 3 points.
This put the home team 6-0 up and the away team a bit anxious as to how the rest of the game was going to go but with some positive talks behind the posts the mighty Shire bounced back and finally started to get some momentum. Soon enough they found they had a chance to claw back 3 points.
Up stepped Mr Parks (thankfully not his namesake, Dan). Still recovering from receiving a ball in the eye on the journey up, he didn’t seem phased at all and took the kick with ease. We started to believe we could win now and some good play from the back line put the Shire in the right areas of the park. With the forwards becoming more and more dominant the referee awarded Shire with two more kickable penalties which Mr Parks took with ease. Mr Parks seemed to get a lot of confidence from this and started taking control of the game, putting the ball in good positions for his now hungry forward pack and taking a lot of pressure of the rest of his back line. Half time finished 12-6 to the Shire.
With some positive and wise words during the break from coach Eric Strachan put his team in good spirits to see out the rest of the game. Second half was under way and the home team started well with the hostile crowd well and truly behind them. This led to yet another penalty and another 3 points. The game now was now run by the referee giving penalty after penalty for both sides, which made it difficult for either side to get any sort of attack going but the Shire did get one real opportunity to score and they took it with aplomb.
The forwards attacked up the middle of the park with great purpose and pace which lead to cracks in the Hawick defence. The ball getting agonizingly close to the line, the quick wide ball was on with a 3 on 2 situation just ten meters from the line. Out in the backs were Steffen Cole, 1 on 1 legend Kenny Penman and the front rower Shaun Mountain. Some say he was lazy and just hanging around in the back line, but this experienced reporter would suggest it was great vision. Quick ball from the back of the ruck from the mature scrum half Gary Leith gave the ball to Cole who ran and drew one defender. Kenny running a wider angle drew the other defender and left Shaun to run/waddle through the middle of the two and crash over the line to score a well made try. Mr Parker knocked over the conversion to give him an impressive 100% kicking record for the day.
The home team were fighting hard to get back into the game with the crowd right behind them and they applied some pressure when kicking another penalty... 19-12 with 15 minutes to go. Shire came under huger amount of pressure from the home team, the crowd and the referee, who made some amazing decisions throughout the game. But the Shire rear guard stood firm and with some truly immense defending, throwing in huge hits all over the park, saw the game closed out with another win for the Shire to stay on top of the league and ready to face anyone who challenges them.
The correct attitude, commitment and hunger were certainly on display in this game and the team must match if not raise this for this weekends big local derby, with just a little more composure the tries will surely flow once again for the mighty Shire.
Squad: 15. S.McGillewie 14. M.Maclugash 13. G.Cunningham 12. S.Cole 11. K.Penman 10. S.Parker 9. G.Leith
1. S.Cook 2. D.Jones 3. S.Mountain 4. J.Mason (c) 5. B.Thomson 6. K.Gilmartin 7. S.Tobin 8. A.Cook
16. M.White 17. R.Murray 18. P.Harrow
Pens: Parker 4
Report: Shaun Mountain
05/12/09 Controversial Penalty Try Decides Top Of The Table Cash
Aberdeenshire 1st XV 3-7 Allan Glens
Shire took on Alan Glens for the second time this season on Saturday. This was always going to be a grudge match for two reasons. Firstly they were second in the league behind Shire and second Shire handed them a hammering blow at the start of the season with a fine defeat.
Shire started the game playing away from the club house receiving the ball. The side saw a return of Matt Barker to fullback after a lengthy time out with a knee injury. Craig (Cavey) Livingston was absent from the side due to “Contractual” reasons – his wife went into labour on the previous Friday night.
Shire started the game reasonably well, with good runs by Rory Charmers and Andrew Cook breaking the line of the Alan Glens forwards. The Shire players were too anxious to pass the ball out of contact which saw a run of scrums in quick succession. Glens travelled with a larger pack that in the first encounter, which the Shire front row had taken for granted. Quickly Shire were pinned down in their 22 and going back towards their line.
A scrum only 10 yards out from the Shire line required a massive effort from the Shire pack that was never to appear, they were bullied back towards their own line resulting in the back of the scrum falling to the ground for Glens to be awarded a dubious penalty try which was then converted. 0 - 7.
After the re-start there was some aerial ping pong with the ball which wouldn’t look out of place at Twickenham. This saw a clever kick for the line from Simon McGillewie, this saw Shire attacking the away-side 22 and deep there in for a period of 15 minutes. A high tackle of Cole saw him take advantage of the opportunity to add 3 points by slotting a fine kick in front of the posts - 3-7.
Disaster struck soon after, in quick succession Matt Barker pirouetted to chase a kick over his head only for his knee to buckle and be taken off to Aberdeen Royal Hospital. This saw a re-jig of the back line, and on came Doug Jones a wing forward with Steve Tobin moving to Centre and Anderson moving to fullback. Then soon after replacement winger Nick Kendall dislocated his finger which rendered another Shire player out of the game.
Second half saw a change at hooker, on came South African legend Shaun Mountain. The South African was like a coiled spring as he entered the arena and this soon showed as he helped turn the tide in the scrums. The extra weight soon showed Glens what the Shire pack were made of, pushing them back for the first time in the game.
This gave the team a life, soon playing the game mostly in the Glens half. There was a lack of decision making though, which saw runs from Cole, McGillewie, Gilmartain and Tobin blundered. The players had practiced for two weeks on decision making which just did not come to fruition.
Chalmers was trampled on a the bottom a ruck which saw him take a 5 minute blood substitution with the return of Murray to the field while he was patched up. Glens played the game well, stuck to a structure that they had all game. The star of the side had to be there stand off – he kicked for touch well and had a jinky side step that even Cole was impressed with. The score remained at 3-7 with a jubilant Alan Glens side knowing that they had gained valuable points on the Shire men.
A disappointing result to a game Shire could have won. A lack luster first half was the teams undoing, even with a much better 2nd period Shire did not show enough patience and control with their phase game plan and tried to force the ball wide at critical times in the match. Never the less Shire still sit at the top of National League Division 3 and the club will now focus on the job ahead. All players are eager to right the wrongs of the weekend and there is still plenty self believe in the team which will have to be on display in the Borders this weekend.
Congratulations from all at the club to the Livingston’s for the birth of their bouncing baby girl on Tuesday.
Squad: 15. G.Cunningham 14. M.Barker 13. R.Anderson 12. S.McGillewie 11. K.Penman 10. S.Cole 9. G.Leith
1. S.Cook (c) 2. R.Murray 3. A.Sutherland 4. J.Mason 5. R.Chalmers 6. K.Gilmartin 7. S.Tobin 8. A.Cook
16. S.Mountain 17. D.Jones 18. N.Kendall
Report: Ross Murray
Super Twas Pile On The Points Yet Again
Aberdeenshire 2nd XV 87-0 Strathmore
I’d like to start with a little verse of honest northern poetry to keep the jock contingent happy:
“The weather it was dark, mean and affa foggie,
I had tae borrow a lavvie brush to kid rid of the pre-match Broon Baboon,
Ben had left in the Boggie.”
It was a cold and wet afternoon at Woodside, the grey clouds kept rolling in and the rain fell steadily all afternoon. It was wetter than an Otters Pocket lying on a Stonehaven doorstep. The referee never turned up, and Strathmore arrived just minutes before kick off. The match got underway on time under the watchful eye of Dave Roberts who offered to referee the 1st half. The Super Twas knew that Strathmore would be refereeing the 2nd half so Shire wanted to start strongly and put the game beyond the opposition before half time………….and they did just that.
Playing down the slope the opening exchanges were fairly even with some strong tackling from both sides. Eventually Shire took control and some good work from Ryan Mountain and Ben Morris released Paul Harrow to score his 1st try of the half. From then on the floodgates opened.
Paul Harrow scored 4 first half tries, showing just how slinky his footwork can be, beating men each time and cutting inside to ensure he finished close to the posts. James Baxindale joined Harrow on the try-scoring sheet, as did Mike MacLugash.
Steven Parker from 10 was commanding the game with excellent cross field kicks and good handling in conditions that were far from ideal,. Combine this with the pack dominating at the breakdown and the back-row being strong in the tackle Shire turned the screw. The star of the half Paul Harrow had to be replaced just before half time after taking an elbow into the throat but he had already done enough to secure the Man of the Match. This really shows just how shite everyone else was having double the time to shine!! Coach Charlie Flett was making substitutions all afternoon keeping his players as fresh as possible, and this was quite obvious as half time drew close with Shire dominating in all departments of the game.
After half-time the changes kept on coming with John Dickinson coming on to replace John Howie in the back row, and Dave Roberts replacing Ben Morris at scrum half. With his 1st touch of the ball Dickinson showed a clean pair of heels for a fat boy-backrow and stormed in following good work at the line out from Craig Robson. From here on in it was once again one-way traffic with Parker getting himself a try, MacLugash scoring more tries and ending up being the 2nd Shire player to grab a hatrick, the skipper Foggy got himself onto the score sheet, James Baxindale scored his 2nd, and then Joe the winger scored the final try of the match. There were 2 other Shire tries scored in this high scoring one sided game but these players will remain nameless.
All in all a good performance from the Super Twas, but as always there are still areas for improvement. Competition for places is hotting up!
Finally I’d like to add how shocking it was that Ben Thompson avoided wearing the DOTD dress. His attemped clearance kick from inside the Shire 22 was something to behold. The ball was so severely sliced that it turned into a cross field kick which Paul Harrow gathered and managed to save the blushes of our front rower. James Baxindale, however, fitted into the size 10 nicely after knocking on with the line begging for what would have been Shire’s 3rd hat rick.
Squad: 15. M.White 14. P.Harrow 13. J.Baxendale 12. M.Maclugash 11. M.Christie 10. S.Parker 9. B.Morris
1. B.Thomson 2. C.Farman 3. C.Catto 4. D.Chaplin 5. M.Fotheringham (c) 6.C.Robson 7. J.Howie 8. R.Mountain
16. R.Hempsey 17. I.Irvine 18. J.Dickinson 19. A.Stewart 20. D.Roberts 21. D.Coull 22. D.Paddy 23. J.Wing
Tries: Harrow 4, MacLugash 3, Baxendale 2, Parker, Fotheringham, Dickinson, Wing
Cons: Parker 6
Report: John Dickinson
14/11/09 Shire Can't Turn First Half Dominance Into Points
Aberdeenshire 1st XV 20-3 Trinity Accies
Shires second home game in a row saw them up against a very different Trinity Accies team than they had previously faced. With the line up changed, and with Trinity fighting to keep themselves off the bottom of the league table, this would prove to be a very challenging game for both teams.
Shire were up for the game right from the kick off, and found themselves spending the first ten minutes of the game inside their oppositions 22. All the early pressure, and some quick passing and hard running found Kris Gilmartin crashing over the line (and a few Trinity players) for the first points of the afternoon. Cole missed the kick ..... to make the score line 5-0.
Shire were dominant again from the restart with the forwards working hard to retain the ball and drive the team down the pitch, and the backs testing out the oppositions defence in the wider channels. Again finding themselves in Trinitys 22, Shire piled on the pressure, but a few handling mistakes from the front row forwards and poor decisions from the backs meant Shire couldn't take advantage of their position. A fortunate penalty, gladly taken by Cole gave the home team an 8-0 lead.
Shire let their foot off the gas after the next restart, and spent the next period of the game up until half time defending their try line, with some big tackles being made, keeping the visitors from scoring with sheer determination. Trinity found themselves with a penalty to be taken right in front of the posts, and converted it making the score at half time a very tight 8-3.
From the start of the second half, Shire looked like a different team, with no one taking the game to the visitors. Despite this, some hard work from the team meant Shire were edging ever closer to the opposition line. After one of many scrums, scrum half G.Leith passed back inside to No.8 Andrew Cook who barrelled towards the try line, being stopped just short. Instead of going to ground however, Cook performed a wee ballet manoeuvre with a twist and managed to fall over the line. Dancing classes finally paid off! The try was not scored under the posts, meaning Cole was always going to struggle with the kick. 13-3 to the home team.
Even though this try meant a bonus point was now within reach, Shire still did not seem motivated, and struggled for possession and territory for the next period of the game. Some penalties and good lineout play again found Shire at their opponents 5 metre line. A clever lineout call saw Shire drive towards the try line with most of the opposition confused as to where the ball was. The maul was stopped 1 metre out, until second row John Mason came crashing in and added his obvious weight to it and bowled Trinity over the line. Prop Andy Sutherland scored it, and came out of the pile of bodies with the ball after wrestling it back from Mason, who had gotten overexcited and tried to claim the score for his own! Cole slotted the conversion home making the score 20-3.
With one try to go for the bonus point, Shire again found themselves in Trinitys 22. However, some fantastic defence from the visitors, and some bad decision making from Shire meant the score remained the same for the last ten minutes of play. The final score 20-3 to Aberdeenshire, unfortunately no bonus point, but a win is a win after all! Shire remain top of the league table, with a good start to the second half of the season
Squad: 15. M.Snell 14. G.Cunningham 13. R.Anderson 12. S.McGillewie 11. M.Maclugash 10. S.Cole 9. G.Leith
1. S.Cook 2. D.Jones 3. S.Mountain 4. J.Mason 5. K.Gilmartin 6. C.Livingston (c) 7. S.Tobin 8. A.Cook
16. A.Sutherland 17. K.Penman 18. M.White
Tries: Kilmartin, A.Cook, Sutherland
Report: Steven Cook
07/11/09 Shire Finally Out Pace Plucky Lenzie
Aberdeenshire 1st XV 24-13 Lenzie
It was top versus bottom on Saturday as Aberdeenshire entertained a stuffy Lenzie on a bitter November day at Woodside. At the midway stage of the season, the north-east club found themselves four points clear at top of the league following a recent return to form. Martin Snell was recalled to openside flanker with Irish number seven Steve Tobin bed-ridden, struck down with a debilitating bout of man flu. Gary Leith was back in the number nine shirt, while Stefan Cole made way for young stand-off Steven Parker, with the Kiwi slotting in at outside centre.
Securing a ninth win and another precious bonus point was crucial for the league leaders if they were to remain in pole position for the second round of league matches. However, Aberdeenshire were caught cold when the opposition number 10 went short at the kickoff allowing a teammate to take control of possession and begin an early attack.
With barely minutes gone and without Shire laying a finger on the ball, the Lenzie stand-off hit an unorthodox cross-field kick out to the wing that took Shire, and most of his own team, by surprise.
The Shire backline were committed infield as the ball shot over their heads out to the wing, which the Lenzie 14 greatly accepted, running in the try to give the visitors a 5-0 lead. Lenzie missed the conversion and Shire had the chance to get back into the game after their early wobble.
The Aberdeenshire pack rumbled up the park and after a few quick rucks the ball was shipped out through the backs .Captain Craig Livingston fed the ball to number 8 Andrew Cook out wide, who battled over the line for a try. Cole missed the extra two points and soon after the Lenzie stand-off had put his team back into the lead with a well-struck penalty.
Shire consolidated and were able to move back into Lenzie territory after the visitor's sloppy rucking saw them penalised by the referee. The Woodside club were given a further bonus shortly after when Lenzie's stand-off was sidelined with shoulder injury, passing the kicking duties to their blindside flanker who struggled with the boot. Number 8 Cook was back in the thick of it, picking up at the base of the scrum and bulldozing his way through for another try, beating four men on his way over the whitewash.
Cole missed his second conversion of the afternoon before the referee called half-time on the game, with Shire leading 10-8. Aberdeenshire started the stronger of the two sides after the break and began to find their rhythm after a disjointed opening 40 minutes. Shire spent much of the second period inside Lenzie's half, but the game soon became dogged with scrummaging as Lenzie's front row frustrated the home pack with repeated infringements at the engagement.
Shire pushed for a third try and it soon came after a rare Steven Cook pass found his front row colleague Shaun Mountain in space on the blindside, allowing the South African to crash over for a score. Stefan Cole then slotted a tricky kick from the left hand side to add another two points to the black and reds' tally.
Shire were in control of the game, helped by a dominate display in the lineout from locks Mason and Gilmartin who were able to give the tight five a steady platform to maul their way past the Lenzie forwards. However, the champagne was soon put on ice after an uncharacteristic mistake from wing Kenny Penman gave his opposite man a space to attack up the blindside.
The Lenzie winger turned on the gas beating another two men, blistering his way for the Dunbartonshire side's second try of the match. But the score only sparked Aberdeenshire back into action and before long they were knocking on Lenzie's door looking for the bonus point. After some patient build-up, the ball was put wide giving Penman the opportunity to more than make amends for his earlier slip up. The winger took his chance and burst through the visitor's backline, touching down for a conclusive score and a valuable bonus point. Cole slotting the touchline conversion in spectacular fashion to wipe out his earlier penalty misses with the boot.
Andrew Cook was awarded man of the match but was ran close by McGillewie and Livingston who also had stand out performances.
Aberdeenshire now face a return visit from Trinity Accies after taking a scalp from them away from home in the first match of the season. The team now looks to build on the good finish to this game and turn up the pace on the Edinburgh side for the whole 80 minutes!
Squad: 15. R.Anderson 14. G.Cunningham 13. S.Cole 12. S.McGillewie 11. K.Penman 10. S.Parker 9. G.Leith
1. S.Cook 2. D.Jones 3. S.Mountain 4. J.Mason 5. K.Gilmartin 6. C.Livingston (c) 7. M.Snell 8. A.Cook
16. C.Catto 17. N.Kendall 18. M.White
Tries: A.Cook 2, Mountain, Penman
Cons: Cole 2
Report: Kris Gilmartin
The Super Twas Gain Revenge Over Local Rivals
Aberdeenshire 2nd XV 18-7 Gordonians
Shire Super Twas took the 5 league points on offer with Dunfermline cancelling and looked for a friendly fixture to keep the momentum going after two excellent away results in recent weeks. After FPs 3s couldn't get a team out, Shire welcomed local rivals, Gordonians 2s, to Woodside for the 2nd out of our 3 planned meetings for this season. Following a narrow loss last time out at Countesswells, Twas were fired up to put a result in and continue to build on good work in training during the week.
Shire started the game positively and probably played some of their best rugby in the first 20 minutes. Despite being against the slope, the backline gained some valuable ground and enabled a period of pressure on Gordonians line. However, a recurring combination of over enthusiasm close to the line and key errors & indiscipline allowed the opponents off the hook, bringing in the game largely into the middle third with a fairly turgid display of error strewn rugby. Shire lacked cohesion at the breakdown, getting isolated and failing to build momentum in the forwards. The exceptions to this were probably Spudos with some effective driving close to and Mike Maclugash, whose clear desire and strong running set a great example for the rest of the team and built on another strong performance from last week. The scrums were poor at times with real difficulty securing our own ball, although lineout's were greatly improved following a focused session on Thursday evening. All Shire had to show for a great deal of effort was a missed pot at goal, although some comfort was gained by the fact that Gordonians had failed to threaten the line.
Following some clear direction from coach Allan at half time, the lads started with much more focus and quickly turned possession into field position and then points. Strong driving from the forwards was recycled on the Gordonians line and Chunks quickly saw the opportunity to spread wide to Doug Maclugash to score. Shire now found their feet with some astute kicking from Chunks and committed chasing from Chad and Paul on the wings continuing to gain field position and points followed quickly with 2 converted penalties from Chunky. Shire continued to turn the screw with the vastly improved lineout putting pressure on the Gordonian throw leading to scrambled ball and a charged down kick which was deftly collected by Ian Irvine, who crashed over to score. Chunks converting the straightforward chance from straight in front. Ian Irvine continued in this effective vein, making the most of his time with some crunching tackles and direct running. As is perhaps inevitable, Gordonians put in some stronger performances in the final period of the game with only some excellent covering work from Chad and Chris Farmin saving a certain try. In the end, the Gordonians centre crashed over for a consolation score, leaving the final score 18-7 to Shire.
In the final analysis, a good result with a great deal of effort from the lads. Scrum time and breakdown cohesion were clear areas to be improved on if Super Twas are to continue to compete for League honours this term. Best wishes to James Baxendale for a speedy recovery from a nastly ankle injury.
Squad: 15. A.Falconer 14. P.Harrow 13. J.Baxendale 12. M.Maclugash 11. C.Frenchman 10. M.Christie 9. D.Roberts
1. J.Pope 2. C.Farman 3. M.Littlejohn 4. D.Chaplin 5. M.Fotheringham (c) 6.J.Dickinson 7. J.Green 8. T.Condon
16. I.Irvine 17. D.Maclugash 18. A.Moore 19. C.Flett 20. C.Robson 21. D.Donaldson 22. B.Davies
Tries: D.Maclugash, Irvine
Pens: Moore 2
Report: Dave Roberts
31/10/09 Shire Nearly Forget To Turn Up In Tillicoultry
Hillfoots 9-10 Aberdeenshire 1st XV
Both Shire teams travelled to Tillicoultry this week for a very tough encounter against Hillfoots. Coach Eric Strachan decided to change up the 1st XV starting line up in an attempt to keep all players hungry for the Shire jersey. Mally 'Breezer' White and Kris Gilmartin getting their first starts of the season at scrum-half and number 8 respectively, with man flu victim Gary Leith and Andy 'Junior' Cook dropping to the bench.
The Game was a bruising bad tempered encounter with neither side stamping their authority on it. First half Shire played up the steep hill and conditions were very heavy under foot . Shire had their fair share of the possession but failed to turn this into points with the home side defending very well and using the conditions and kicking well to keep Shire in their own half . Both sides exchanged penalties and missed others as Shire's out half spent 10 min in the bin after frustration boiled over at the Hillfoots crafty tactics at the breakdown. At the break it was 3 all .
The Second half was played at a faster pace and resulted in some good passages of play culminating in a very well worked try scored by Craig Livingston the captain who had another excellent performance leading the pack. The try was converted superbly from the touchline by Stefan Cole.
The game was very competitive at the break down causing both sides to concede penalties resulting in a couple of yellow cards and a red card right at the end for the Hillfoots hot headed winger. The Shire team could not raise their game beyond the oppositions and struggled to speed the game up in the contact areas suiting the enthusiastic home side. Shire were not able to capitalise on some of their good work and lacked consistency and intensity at crucial stages of the match. However some good defending and composure towards the end of the game did secure a hard fought victory.
A frustrating day at the office for Shire but most importantly the right result. Areas certainly have to be addressed by all players to make sure the team is completely prepared come first whistle on a Saturday. I'm sure all players will be keen to train hard this week and get the mental preparation just right for the visit of Lenzie this Saturday.
Squad: 15. R.Anderson 14. G.Cunningham 13. M.Snell 12. S.McGillewie 11. K.Penman 10. S.Cole 9. M.White
1. S.Cook 2. R.Murray 3. D.Jones 4. J.Mason 5. T.Condon 6. C.Livingston (c) 7. S.Tobin 8. K.Gilmartin
16. A.Cook 17. A.Sutherland 18. G.Leith
Report: Tim Condon
The Super Twas Put The Half Century on Hillfoots
Hillfoots 12-52 Aberdeenshire 2nd XV
For the second time this season, the Super Twa’s travelled to the same away ground as the Shire 1st team, but this time more eager to come away with the spoils to match the achievements of the 1st's at Countesswells the last time the double fixture arose.
With a later than expected departure from Harlaw, the heavily laden bus filled to capacity with both teams, coaches and supporters arrived in Tillycoultry to be hosted by Hillfoots a mere 45 minutes prior to kick off.
With the pre-match plan of a team photo with the newly decorated Super Twa’s shirts with the logo of the new sponsors, Quartz Elec shelved because of time constraint’s, the Super Twa’s took to the field, without injured captain Duncan Coull and instead, led on the day by Michael Fotheringham.
With the expansive game plan in the heads of all the players, the Super Twa’s quickly took control of the game. Two tries were scored early in the game by James Baxendale, playing at outside centre when the backs received quick ball from solid work upfront from the experienced old heads of Fotheringham, Mike Roulston and Ryan Mountain. The squad has been working on providing and looking for strong support runners. This was exemplified when player/coach Charlie Flett gathered from a Hillfoots restart, carried to contact and expertly offloaded to the charging Ryan Mountain, who burst through the advancing Hillfoots defence to stroll towards the whitewash without chase to add the third try of the game.
A lack of concentration and poor tacking allowed the young and energetic Hillfoots prop to score beneath the post to give a half time score of 19-5 to the Super Twa’s.
For the first time in his rugby career, Baxendale even charged down the Hillfoots conversion to add to his day’s achievements. The amount of possession did not match the Twa’s lead at this stage of the game. Strong words at half-time from Coach Allan MacCreadie to re-iterate the game plan seemed to work as Hillfoots faded in the second half. Even with some of the referee’s decisions against the Twa’s being stranger than the UK public’s liking of John & Edward, further text book wide tries were scored by Mike Maclugash, Chad Frenchman, replacement winger Doug MacLugash and another brace from Baxendale, the last of which was a length of the field sprint after receiving quick ball on his own line, earning man of the match in the process.
A soft try was conceded late in the match after bickering by Flett and Moore seemed to distract the entire Twa’s back line. Although not affecting the result of this game, this sort of slackness will be more punishing by better opposition, as was the case at Countesswells. Stand-off Stephen Parker added to his fine game by converting six of the eight tries to give a well deserved full time score of 12-52.
Squad: 15. A.Falconer 14. P.Harrow 13. J.Baxendale 12. M.Maclugash 11. C.Frenchman 10. S.Parker9. B.Morris
1. J.Pope 2. M.Littlejohn 3. C.Catto 4. D.Chaplin 5. M.Roulston 6. M.Fotheringham (c) 7. C.Simpson 8. R.Mountain
16. A.Stewart 17. R.Hempsey 18. A.Moore 19. C.Flett 20. D.Maclugash
Tries: Baxendale 4, M.Maclugash, Frenchman, Mountain, D.Maclugash
Report: Mike Fotheringham
24/10/09 Forward Power Helps Steady The Shire Ship At Wet Woodside
Aberdeenshire 1st XV 16-8 Marr
Aberdeenshire welcomed on form Marr to Woodside after 2 consecutive defeats. With only point’s difference separating the teams before kick off, Shire needed to find their early season form despite the awful weather conditions. With the return of one on one specialist Kenny Penman on the wing Shire were determined not to let the weather ruin their game plan. Coach Eric Strachan kept faith in his squad with only a few changes, with Steve Parker being drafted onto the bench after a number of standout performances for the Super Twas. With the torrential rain and strong wind at there backs Shire received the KO and made some front foot ball from the off. Captain Livingston caught the ball, barged over the first Marr tackler and was strongly supported by the rest of the pack when he was eventually stopped.
From then on Shire used the conditions to their advantage and played the game in the Marr half. However with only 10 minutes gone Shire were dealt a blow. Rory Chalmers was unable to gets his guns in position to protect his ribs from a big hit, which forced the second row work horse to retire from the game.
With the Shire pack dominating the scrum and the backs working through their various moves Shire kept the pressure on. The break through eventually came when the porn star Simon McGillewie picked a good line through the packed defence and fed the ball wide to Andrew Cook, who used his fancy footwork to run over the covering full back to score in the corner. The conversion was missed by Cole but Shire had drawn first blood and were 5-0 ahead. With the referee continually penalising Shire for various offences, they found themselves down to 14 players after Big Cook was sin binned for a high tackle. The resulting penalty gave Marr the chance to pull 3 points back with the last kick of the half. Fortunately from Shire’s point of view the kick was missed.
With the conditions against them in the 2nd half Shire knew they were going to have to dig in to defend and increase their 5 point lead. Despite Shire being down to 14 men it was they who had the early pressure. When the 7 man pack of Shire destroyed the Marr pack at the first scrum of the half, the men from Woodside felt it was going to be a good afternoon.
Shire then increased their lead to 8 points when Cole slotted a penalty. With the referee continuing to penalise Shire for some mysterious offences Marr got there first score of the day to make it 8-3 Shire. However Shire were quick to respond when a kick through was hacked on by McGillewie who reached the ball first and despite the wet conditions controlled the ball and scored Shire’s second try of the day. Shire continued to win the fight up front and with man of the match John Mason continually disrupting the Marr lineout things were looking good. However Marr did not lie down and with only 5 minutes to go Shire were defending their try line bravely. However Marr eventually spread the ball wide and scored in the corner. The conversion was missed but Marr were now in place to gain at least a vital losing point. From the restart Shire put Marr on the back foot and were awarded a penalty. With the referee signalling that this would be the last play of the game all eyes were on Kiwi Stefan Cole to see if he could hold his bottle (for a change). Despite the concern of some of his team mates (not his Captain) Cole slotted the penalty to give Shire a 16-8 victory and therefore taking the losing bonus point away from Marr.
After two weeks of disappointment for everyone involved with Aberdeenshire, the team found the desire and commitment that had been missing recently to record an important victory. There is still along way to go but it’s good to be back in the winning way.
Squad: 15. R.Anderson 14. G.Cunningham 13. N.Kendall 12. S.McGillewie 11. K.Penman 10. S.Cole 9. G.Leith
1. S.Cook 2. D.Jones 3. S.Mountain 4. J.Mason 5. R.Chalmers 6. C.Livingston (c) 7. S.Tobin 8. A.Cook
16. S.Parker 17. A.Sutherland 18. K.Gilmartin
Tries: Cook, McGillewie
Pens: Cole 2
Report: Craig Livingston
10/10/09 Simple Mistakes Lead To Painful First Defeat For Shire
Aberdeenshire 1st XV 17-19 Forrester
Shire arrived at the game knowing that after a windswept win at home the previous week, there would need to be another step up through the gears to win convincingly against Forresters FPs. Shire were without the services of a full frontrow of Shaun Mountain, Steve Cook and Andy Sutherland with back three flyer Kenny Penman also unavailable.
The game kicked off with Shire playing away from the clubhouse and the away team kicking off with a unusual kick along the ground to try and catch the Shire forwards off guard. With some quick phases through the forwards, Forresters were on the back foot but looked strong at the break down as they competed for every ball. Shire now realised this would be tougher challenge than expected. With a complete replacement of the front row, the Shire pack were on the back foot from the first scrum.
With around 20 minutes of play gone shire opened the scoring with 2 or 3 phases of forward play, which was followed by a pass out to Openside Flanker Steve Tobin, who neatly stepped inside one defender and nipped out of a tackle to dive over the tryline to open the scoring. The conversion was added by Cole to take the score to 7-0. Not long after, the game was evenly matched in the middle of the park until a kick through from the Forresters 10 lead to Matt Barker chasing back with Martyn Snell in support. Barker played the ball back into play but too far back for Fullback Snell to recover, leading to a Forresters player pouncing on the ball for the away teams opening score. The last 10 minutes of the half was played mainly in the middle of the park with many scrums, rucks and mauls. Forester taking it to the Shire team who were finding it difficult to answer to the physicality at the breakdown. The first half ended and stern words were spoken by coach Eric Strachan after a disappointing half.
The second half was played with more intensity by the Shire team although all too similar lines and moves allowed Forrester to settle in defence and the Shire attack did not look as potent as in previous weeks. The physicality of the match was underpinned when a scuffle broke out on the far touchline where blows were exchanged from both sides, the referee powerless to stop the battle royale as both teams piled players in to the aid of their teammates, stopped only by the arrival of the one known as ‘guns’ striking fear into the hearts of the riled Forrester players. The Shire scrum was still underperforming which put the hosts immediately on the back foot even on attacking ball and worked to extinguish a number of attacking opportunities, surprising given the scrum had been one of Shires most potent weapons in the last number of games. The lineout in the second half started functioning and under the pinpoint accuracy of Andrew Cooks throwing, the graceful and salmon like leaps of Rory Chalmers and John Masons moonwalking, imitating the great man himself, Shire found some form in set pieces but again the lack of clean ball at the breakdown seemed to take the bite out of most of the attacks. Shire thought they had done enough to seal the points when Captain Craig Livingston broke the line to dive over for the second score and with another penalty in hand Shire were leading 17-12 going into the final 15 mins however Forrester quickly replied with a try of their own. The fullback ran a good line through poor first phase defence and to score Forresters second of the match. The match was now hanging in the balance – Shire looking the more likely to score and all pressure seemed to be on the Forrester line however some loose kicking and bad decision making again led to Forrester clearing their lines. A yellow card for Shire made us one light in the backs and a ball that should have been cleared from our own 22 was run, the ball turned over and the gap in the back line told as Forrester ran through for their 3rd of the game putting them 19-17 in front. The last minutes saw Shire throw their all at the visitors but it was all too little too late when the ball was knocked on in contact for the visitors to clear to touch and celebrate like they had won the league title.
A very disappointing day for the team and as importantly the coaches and supporters. The pain of this unnecessary defeat will be of great source strength for tough matches ahead as no one around the club wants to experience this feeling again. Next weekends game in Glasgow against GHK can’t come quick enough and will let the boys re-group and hopefully this reality check will be enough to inspire the team to raise their game beyond the opposition as should be the case every weekend.
Squad: 15. M.Snell 14. M.MacLugash 13. R.Anderson 12. S.McGillewie 11. M.Barker 10. S.Cole 9. G.Leith
1. C.Catto 2. A.Cook 3. R.Smith 4. J.Mason 5. M.Fotheringham 6. C.Livingston (c) 7. S.Tobin 8. R.Chalmers
16. C.Simpson 17. G.Cunningham 18. J.Broadribb
Tries: Tobin, Livingston
Cons: Cole 2
Report: Andrew Cook / Rory Chalmers