1st XV - Report
Shire progress in the Caledonia Shield at the expense of Orkney.
Aberdeenshire 1st XV scored 10 tries on their way to beating Orkney in an early kick off to give them an 18 point lead at the top of Caledonia 1 and to progress to the semi finals of the Caledonia Shield.
A change of playing style would also come to fruition throughout the afternoon, as despite the ongoing success of the forward pack who had been instrumental throughout the 50 point demolition of Caithness the previous weekend, Shire were determined to make the most of the dry overhead conditions and play a more expansive game.
Orkney kicked off to Shire, who were playing towards the clubhouse and a period of open running and kicking ensued, as both sides sized one another up and searched for any defensive frailty. It was Orkney who took the early initiative when the outside centre made a solid break through midfield to put himself one on one with fullback and debutant Gavin Thomas. Thomas, a man who doesn’t shy away from ‘back alley encounters’, made the cover tackle before springing to his feet, releasing the tackled player for just enough time for the sun to blind the oncoming support players as it reflected off his bulbous biceps and expertly relieved the fallen player of the ball.
This early scare was followed up by some strong running from the Orkney number 8 who’s quick picks from the base of the scrum were the only reason Shire did not have more success with turnover ball at the scrum. Each scrum was being unceremoniously driven back at pace as the Shire pack proved they possessed the power to match their rugged good looks.
Shire broke the deadlock with some quick hands across the backline ending with the ball in the hands of Gavin Thomas who powered over for the first score of the game.
Iain Redmond followed up Gavin’s try with a solo effort deftly threading the ball through the Orkney defence by boot, running a looping line around his opposite number before collecting ball in hand in time to slide over the whitewash and more than likely miss the ensuing conversion.
The following score was set up in similar fashion to the first, with the ball being floated across the backline and ending in the hands of Ross Bennie Coulson. Ross shaped up to perform his customary rhinoceros charge, the Orkney backs closed their eyes and braced themselves for impact, however, as if possessed by the wobbling jowls of Coco he caught the ball and whipped out a textbook torpedo miss-pass which nestled itself into the arms of a bemused Mike MacLugash who, with legs flailing in a moment reminiscent of Forrest Gump shaking off his callipers, accelerated from standing to beat the defence and touch down over the line.
Gavin Thomas and Mike MacLugash continued to have success down the left hand touchline through the first half helped by slick handling and blistering pace. Both players added a further try to their tallies prior to half time for Shire to go into the halfway break leading 27-0.
The second half continued in a similar fashion as the ball was shipped through the back line reaching the imposing figure of Rory Chalmers. Chalmers shaped up to pass but planted a foot and stepped inside, the defensive line were stifled as much by the change in direction as by the shadow being cast over them by his impressive shoulders. He charged up the pitch and over the line from a distance leaving the defenders for dead and with the sound of the air whistling over his aerodynamic calves in their ears.
Shire continued to press throughout the second half, the handling continued to impress and the introduction of some well timed offloads started to further break down the Orkney defence.
The next score saw Scott Simpson feed Stuart Douglas on the 5 yard line, Douglas fended a number of Orcadian defenders with his spade like palms to crash over from short. The favour was soon reciprocated as Douglas popped off to Simpson in a similar field position for Scott to convert with a little more finesse dancing around the last defender and touching down under the posts.
Mike MacLugash scored the penultimate try of the game, rounding off his hat-trick in style. Redmond held the ball up in midfield whilst MacLugash came off his wing to take the ball on a direct route though the 10 / 12 channel. He sliced through the centre of the defence like a hot knife through butter to score centre field.
The final score of the game was both started and finished by Stuart Douglas, a sniping line saw him overpower the immediate defender, on approaching further contact he offloaded into the line of support runner Andrew Cook. Cook drew the following defender and popped to Kenny Penman who surprisingly caught the ball and repeated the offload from contact back to Cook, each offload was met by increasing applause from the supporters until the last sent Stuart Douglas seagulling in under the posts for his second try leaving coach Strachan punching the air in ecstasy and smugly reminding the sidelines of his training drills from Thursday.
The game ended with Shire scoring 10 tries to win 56 – 0. An impressive display of fast, back orientated rugby.
Congratulations to Gav on scoring 2 tries on only his 2nd game for the first XV and MacLugash on scoring a hat trick. Commiserations to Little Cook who based on his picking off the back of the scrum has developed feet for hands, and to Redmond who based on his kicking performance (you can do the maths) has quite the opposite problem and thanks to Eck for providing all the scorers.