2nd XV - Report
|Aberdeenshire 2nd XV||39||vs||3||Lochaber|
Supa Twas give Lochaber No More!
Aberdeenshire 2nd XV blow off the festive shackles to do the task in hand, beating a stuffy Lochaber side with a bonus point win.
A slight reshuffle due to injuries and availability meant that there was some unfamiliarity in the team and positions of individuals. Most notable was Martyn Snell at number 8 and Paul Harrow at outside centre.
The game began with Shire receiving the kick off and from the outset it was evident that the team who shook off the rustiness of not playing for nigh on 7 weeks would emerge the victor. Passes were dropped, phases of play were disjointed, tackles were missed, the game stopped and started, the only constants were Lochaber’s dogged, stubborn defence and the Twas dominance at set piece, particularly the scrum where a much larger twas pack bullied a smaller visiting pack. An early injury to alan stuart through a large collision with an opposing forward when challenging for a loose ball on the ground, resulted in him having to leave the field with a split lip/chin and was replaced by now veteran Ben Morris.
As the twas retained possession and began a slow succession of phases up the park, Lochaber infringed and Willy Parker slotted over a penalty, 3-0 and first blood (as per the game plan of taking any points on offer) was to the twas. Another 3 followed soon after (6-0) but this was almost undone by some slack first up tackling, which allowed the Lochaber wing to scorch 70m up the park before a Twas infringement at the ruck meant that the score became 6-3.
More patient phase play with the offloading game came to the fore, meant yardage was easier to come by with the twas forwards thundering into their opponents and setting up ruck after ruck before the ball was moved wide, although sometimes too quickly, while other times not quickly enough. Then Martyn Snell received the ball in midfield and seized the opportunity to chip the onrushing defence. This he did, while also managing to collect and sidestepping what seemed like half the Lochaber team to touch down near the posts with Parker adding the extras. The twas breathed a sigh of relief and it seemed a weight lifted from their shoulders, this meant runners gathered passes more assuredly, and ran with that bit more purpose and bigger dents were made as the team grew in confidence as the clock ticked towards half time.
Supa Twas 13 - Lochaber 3.
The second half started as the first had finished. The Twas were growing in confidence and Lochaber started to wilt but remained dogged at their task. A deep foray into the Lochaber 22 yielded a line out on their 5m line. It was time to test Lochaber’s maul defence, Charlie Catto made the call, Iain Irvine leapt, claimed the ball, and shire began the march towards the line.....with Lewis Emslie claiming the score over the line. William Parker coolly slotted over the extras.
By now the Twas were in complete ascendancy with Lochaber managing only fleeing glimpses of the ball, either running it for marginal gains or hoofing it downfield for the shire back 3 to counter attack with.
In the midst of one surge upfield, running back a clearance from Lochaber’s verteran fullback, Duncan Coull went into contact and in the midst of the melee' , was the victim of a cowardly stamp to the face, thankfully Le Baz was on hand to get stuck into the perpetrator. A brief reshuffle whilst this was attended to and shire were on the surge again, with some great interplay between the front row, offloading and ever stretching the Lochaber defence. Another catch and drive lineout resulted in another try, this time claimed by Amos Marawa. 3 tries, only 1 more needed, a fragile belief crept through the team, how much time? Could we manage the 4th? A brief spell of Lochaber dominance and Shire indiscipline as an edge of panic crept in, but in the next foray again from a lineout in the Lochaber 22, Shaun Mountain went under the posts. What ever happened now we just had to keep Lochaber out and we'd have done our job.
The shackles were now off and the game became much faster (well, as much as tired legs would allow) and looser. Lochaber’s belief did start to wilt but to their credit they kept trying to break through as time began to run away from them. In one of Shire’s last attacks of the game another Lochaber infringement was judged and the ref signalled this was to be the last play of the game. The Twas were determined to finish on a high, and so the scrum was chosen, allowing a good platform to be set. Martyn Snell launched off the back, with the ball then being recycled time and again in the Lochaber 22m before, it was passed out to the back who were able to use simple hands to make use of an overlap and allowed for Jack Burnett to score in the corner. Willy Parker also coolly slotted to round up an excellent kicking display from the stand-off for the day. The whistle went, the twas had done it, they had stuck it out against a stuffy, committed team and remained patient. The 5 points were ours and we had even kept our line intact. A special thanks for this goes to Paul Harrow who pulled off a try saving tackle near the end of the second half. It is hoped the remaining fixtures come thick and fast for the Super Twas so as they can bring this sort of form into the final five games of the season.