Glens Win on the Road at Mackie
John Goodall reports.
Having already beaten Mackie at Stonehaven in the Shield, Glenrothes had every reason to head north on Saturday feeling confident that they could achieve a result. The result vindicated this confidence but as the score suggests it could so easily have ended up otherwise. In fact as coach Tom Hainey pointed out to his team at the end of the game, the better team lost largely due to their kicker’s indifferent form when presented with decent opportunities by the visitors.
First blood was drawn by Mackie in the eighth minute when prop Calum Reddish popped over a penalty from in front of the posts. The pattern for much of the game had been set by this time as referee Leese had penalised Glenrothes twice prior to this for offences at the breakdown. Reddish had missed his first attempt at goal and the second was used to set up a lineout on the Glens line which was rebuffed.
Glenrothes struck back almost immediately with Daryl Warrender and Barry Crookston both being stopped just short of the line. Shaun Gray caused anxiety among the travelling support when he had to be helped from the pitch with a knee injury. Young forward Michael Byers came on as a replacement, taking up a position on the left wing with Jordan Grubb moving to full back.
The red pack won a scrum against the head in front of the Mackie posts, again the forwards tried to cross the line but were halted, however this did tie in a number of defenders and a quick ball out to the left enabled Byers to touch down in the corner within a minute of taking the field. Ryan Venters conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
For the rest of the first half, both sides huffed and puffed without looking too likely to cross the whitewash. On the odd occasion when Mackie got the ball wide, their wingers looked lively, Glenrothes on the other hand launched most of their forays centrally but both defences stood strong.
The visitors were penalised repeatedly for handling in rucks, illegal entry, not releasing and a variety of other offences. Mackie were by no means innocent of similar offences but were either more street wise or lucky as the referee was often unable to see their misdemeanours. Two of the penalties conceded by the reds were successfully converted allowing the home team to close the first half leading 9-5.
Glenrothes started the second half brightly when neat interplay between centres Steven Varney and Cammy Goodall freed man of the match Barry Crookston. He charged from half way until he was close to the line, appeared to shrug off a last ditch challenge from one of the defenders facing him then lost his footing and fell down, allowing the home team time to recover. A sniper in the stand was blamed for his demise, but as there was no stand at Slug Road this must be seen as an unlikely explanation.
A penalty converted by Gray, who had returned to the pitch despite the objections of the home team who appeared not to understand the rules of the competition, was scant reward for Crookston’s endeavours.
Mackie replied within 5 minutes when a break down the left led to a lineout 5m from the reds’ line. Mackie took the lineout, set up a maul and when this was halted, Michael Kelly broke from the maul and dived over the line. Reddish missed the conversion.
Glenrothes took the lead for the second time on 65 minutes with a well worked try from a lineout on the Mackie 22m line. Aaron Campbell won the ball, delivered it to Stewart Hainey, playing at scrum half in Michael Delorey’s absence. Hainey passed out to Ryan Venters who passed to Varney. Venters looped Varney and fed Gray who joined the line at speed. As he was tackled he flipped the ball to Goodall whose pace and strength enabled him to cross the line and touch down to the right of the posts, giving Gray a relatively easy conversion, taking the score to 14-15.
Mackie were back in front 4 minutes later with a carbon copy of their first try, this time Dean Gerrard being the player capitalising on a maul on the Glens’ line. To everyone’s surprise, possibly even his own, Reddish converted to restore the six point margin.
As anyone who has followed the Glens this season will know, they play for the full 80 minutes and Saturday was no exception. Mackie’s defence initially withstood the onslaught and had every right to congratulate themselves on being awarded a scrum on their own 22m line when they stopped a Glens’ maul. A superb shove from the red forwards drove the home pack right off the ball, leaving them in total disarray.
Warrender picked up and advanced before passing to Hainey who danced past two would be tacklers and scored his try to the left of the posts. Gray’s conversion put Glenrothes back in the lead at 21-22.
There was more drama to come as the clock ticked round to 80 minutes. Mackie were awarded a penalty 22m from the goal line, midway between corner flag and right hand upright. Reddish’s kick came of the left hand post, was caught by Hainey who scampered behind his goal line before punting the ball over the dead ball line to confirm the victory.
Mackie again showed their lack of understanding, this time of the laws of the game, by claiming that Hainey’s clearance was in some way illegal but the referee was, unsurprisingly, not going to change his mind.
Mackie’s disappointment is understandable as they will feel that they did enough to win the game. Indeed given a more consistent kicker they almost certainly would have won the contest. On the other hand Glenrothes resilience is admirable and for a club to be successful there have to be some occasions where they end up relying on luck as well as ability.
The new half back combination of Hainey and Gray worked well and the forwards were competitive throughout, particularly in setting up the platform for the winning try. With two hookers missing due to broken bones in their feet, Scott Morrison showed, in only his second outing for the firsts in this position, that he is ready to compete for the number 2 jersey with his predecessors. Rhys Bryce had a good game on the right wing and Michael Byers and Aaron Campbell both showed that Ewan Arthur is not the only lock who can also play on the wing.
Next week, second bottom team Morgan are the visitors to Carleton and the Glens supporters will be hoping for a more convincing display against them. The development squad will also be in action away to Strathmore who recorded their first win of the season on Saturday.
Team S Gray, R Bryce, C Goodall, S Varney, J Grubb, R Venters, S Hainey, L Fowlis, S Morrison, M Caldwell, A Campbell, R Hutchison, B Crookston, D Warrender, K Christie Replacements M Byers, C May, B Napier, R Anderson