Superb fight back in second half to win Bowl final.
Huntly RFC won their second piece of silverware this season on Sunday, however it was not the 1st XV who were starring but the U16 squad who returned triumphant with the Caledonia Youth Under 16 Bowl from their trip to St Andrews, defeating Glenrothes 31-19 in an excellent game of rugby.
Madras RFC was the venue for 12 finals in one day for the various trophies up for grabs in the Caledonia region.
The players with Coaches, some parents & supporters left the Muir at 8am for the bus trip to St Andrews. It was soon evident that pre-match nerves were kicking in early, as the trip was quieter than anticipated.
After a break at Strathcathro, the Coaches took the opportunity to speak to the players in their playing units, just to reinforce what their role was at various times in the game, go over the various calls and moves that had been practiced in training and to allow the players to ask any questions that they may have.
This seemed to have the desired effect with the players relaxing and eagerly looking forward to the game.
An early arrival in St Andrews allowed the players to stretch their legs and take in some of the other games that we re being played on the 3 pitches that were in use.
After a good warm up and a strict pre-match brief by the referee who reminded them that his touch judges were “miked up” and would relay information to him during the game of anyone breaking the laws to gain an advantage, the players took to the field in glorious conditions for playing rugby.
Captain Hal Endersby got things off to a good start by winning the toss and elected to kick.
It was evident from the early exchanges that the teams were fairly evenly matched with the big Glenrothes pack looking to dominate with Huntly having a wee bit more guile in the backs.
Huntly opened the scoring after 8 minutes. No8 Lewis Small made a fine break in midfield and offloaded to the supporting Angus Rennie who sprinted clear of the cover to touch down wide left. He was unable to convert his own try.
Huntly increased their lead shortly after with a fine piece of individual play by Rennie. Huntly won scrappy ball at a lineout deep in the Glenrothes half and as often happens when a ball is bouncing free the defence didn’t react, Rennie gathered the ball and spotted his chance and broke through the static defence to touch down under the posts to make the conversion easy.
Huntly unfortunately suffered a blow with winger Paul Blake forced off with a shoulder injury. Kevin Shearer replaced him.
Glenrothes to their credit came back strongly at Huntly and the message had obviously came on from their coaches to take the ball on with forward drives which was certainly causing the lighter Huntly pack problems. Another aspect was the excellent harrying work by their scrum half around the base of set scrums, which was affecting the link from the pack to the threequarters.
Glenrothes opened their account with a piece of quick thinking at a short penalty, Huntly were caught napping a bit and they drove over for the try. The conversion was missed.
Glenrothes tied the score with an individual try from their No8. He gathered the ball just inside his own half broke through the first tackles and sprinted clear of the cover defence to touch down. Thankfully he was not given this room again.
The conversion made it 12 all.
Huntly were forced into another change and once again it was the left-winger that had to come off. Shearer having suffered a knee injury in a tackle as he sprinted clear for the line. He had tried after some treatment from the “magic sponge” or in this case the ice pack to carry on but it was evident to the Coaches that he was struggling and the change was made. This meant a reshuffle with hooker Calum Whyte moving to full back and Mitch Murison replacing him in the front row, Ruari Thomson switched from full back to the wing.
Glenrothes were reduced to 14 players, as one of their forwards was yellow carded for some speech play to the referee, something not tolerated on the rugby field.
With half time approaching it looked, as the teams would go in even. However another fine piece of harrying by the Glenrothes scrum half meant that scrappy ball came back from a defensive scrum, (Huntly were forced to remove No8 Small from the scrum to allow equal numbers for safety reasons) and they missed his control at the base of the scrum. Glenrothes reacted quickest to gather the ball and touchdown; the conversion gave them a 7-point lead as the whistle went for half time.
The Huntly Coaches gave the players time to take on water and catch their breath before reminding them of one or two key points to work on for the second half.
The players certainly took the advice on board and went on to show one of their best 35 minutes of rugby for some time.
Glenrothes went close to extending their lead as they touched down but a good call from the touch judge had spotted an earlier knock on as Kris Morrison put in a fine tackle.
It was now Huntly’s turn to tie the score. After a wee spell of pressure they attacked wide left. The ball was won and moved quickly away from the breakdown, second row Joe Duncan appeared in the centre to force his way over with a powerful run from close range for the try. Rennie slotted the conversion.
Mid way through the half Huntly took the lead again with good team try. A good kick and chase saw the Glenrothes defence fail to clear their lines and Douglas McCallum was held up over the line after some good driving play by his team-mates. He couldn’t ground the ball so a scrum was awarded. Again Huntly attacked close with Rennie taking the ball on. He did well to off load as he was tackled and skipper Endersby went over for the score wide left. The conversion was missed.
It was now all in the melting pot with both teams knowing that any slip in defence would allow the opposition in. Glenrothes pushed really hard and ran a number of penalties as Huntly were punished for some infringements in the tackle or at the breakdown. One high tackle by Murison could have easily merited a yellow card but he escaped punishment due to the earlier good discipline by the team.
With the final whistle approaching Huntly ensured the Trophy was coming North with a try worthy of winning any game. Once again the ball was won deep in the Glenrothes half and as the ball was moved along the line Whyte hit the line at full pace from full back to go through the opposition defence like a hot knife through butter. The defence hardly laid a hand on him as went in to the left of the posts but he still had the presence of mind to get behind the posts to make the conversion easy for Rennie.
Huntly held on for the final few minutes and the whistle for no-side brought to an end an excellent game of rugby played in good spirit by both sides and very well handled by the three officials.
After a short break to catch their breath the Trophy was presented to the team by Don Burns from the SRU.
This was very much a team performance by the whole squad and it would be unfair to single out any player as the man of the match. They have to be congratulated for their display and on how they represented the Club throughout the day.