1st XV - Report
The Green Machine power into Bowl Final
Oban Lorne secured a place in the RBS West Regional Final with a hard-fought 18-0 win against Paisley at Glencruitten.
With a very vocal home support in attendance, the game kicked off with Oban facing away from the Clubhouse. It was clear from the outset that the Bowl competition meant a great deal to either teams, with some hard tackles and powerful rucking appearing in the early stages. Oban Team Manager, Darrell Williams watched over the Green Machine from the sidelines, reminding them how important it was to attack their opponents straight away.
Neither team managed to gain control of the game for the first twenty minutes. Paisley kept Oban pinned in their own half with some tactical kicking, but failed to make the pressure count, missing a penalty which sailed wide of the posts after an Oban player was penalised for holding on to the ball after a tackle.
Just as they had done in Garmony last week, the Oban forward pack surged forward, dominating the scrums with frightening leg drives and shoulder-breaking hits. Flanker, Struan Smith personifying the might of the forwards by zoning in on his opposite number with accurate, textbook tackles that succeeded with alarming regularity.
Despite some basic handling errors, Oban soon found themselves with a penalty on twenty minutes within kicking range. Up stepped Craig Wright to send the ball through the posts to give The Green Machine a valuable three point lead. The young, versatile back has had a metronomic success rate this season with his boot - to the dismay of every opposing team.
Paisley’s attempts to regain momentum stuttered due to some poor handling and frayed tempers. This helped the Green Machine to up the tempo, giving the home team a chance to take control. An unbelievable rolling maul from a lineout pushed Paisley back almost twenty metres, as their experienced team fought hard to halt the charge. Soon another penalty was awarded to Oban, which Craig Wright kicked successfully again to make it Oban Lorne 6-0 Paisley.
As the first half closed, the home support were screaming on the sidelines for another score to cement Oban’s lead further. Unfortunately, despite another rolling maul which ended up at the Paisley five metre line, the clock ran out without further score. Nonetheless, it was clear that the game was within the grasp of Robin MacQueen’s men in green.
At half time, both sets of players gathered on the sidelines to refocus their efforts for the battle to come. Head Coach, Corrie Louw reiterated the need for disciplined, organised play whilst the players reminded each other that Oban Lorne don’t give ground at Glencruitten to anyone easily. As the Renrewshire team prepared receive the restart, the crowd anticipated an epic battle of wills and strength. Oban would start the second half without their prolific kicker, Craig Wright, who succumbed to a calf injury. It was a case of father replacing son, as Robert Wright took to the field as his replacement.
Within minutes of the second half starting, Paisley found themselves desperately defending five metres from their try line as the Oban scrum, now weighing an unbelievable 154 stone after the introduction of Liam “Lomu” Burns, continued their pressure. Despite a valiant effort from the Paisley pack, it was only a matter of time before Corrie Louw powered over the line for the first try of the game. Although the conversion sailed narrowly wide, the lead now grew to 11 points.
The frustrations of the visiting team were evident to all in attendance, as they struggled to maintain their discipline at the breakdown. Soon, the referee showed a yellow card to the Paisley open side flanker for a dangerous late tackle on Oban fly-half Graham MacEachen. Despite the protestations from his team mates, there was no doubt in the referee’s mind that it was a sin-binning offense. The young, but experienced fly-half had been troubling the Paisley line with some excellent possession kicking and took a hit for his troubles.
The Green Machine struggled to take advantage of the extra man, due to some poor decision-making and silly mistakes. Paisley also impressed with organised defending and some impressive counter rucking play. However the game soon turned in the home team’s favour once more after a mammoth effort from the lineout and scrum. Twins, Cammy and Struan Smith continued to cause problems for their opponents, evading tackles whilst making some bone-shuddering hits of their own.
As legs began to tire, the Oban pack continued to drive on, determined to seal the victory with another score. Paisley’s passionate front row couldn’t keep up their strong stand for long, and lost the ball at their own scrum within reaching distance of their own try line. As the ball filtered through the legs of the men in green, a feeling of inevitability surged through the on looking crowd. As Cammy Smith broke the line and touched down for a try, the heartbreak was evident on Paisley faces. A successful conversion from scrum half, Fergus Matheson made it 18-0 to the home team with little more than ten minutes left.
The visiting team refused to give up, and soon built up a very impressive phase of play, with their outside centre beating five men to race clear. Out of nowhere came Andy MacDougall to cleave the ball from his opponent’s hands with arms of steel. The saving tackle from “Mr. Beast” proved to be the final highlight of another winning day for Oban Lorne.
Oban will now play in the final of the West Regional Bowl against the winner of the Loch Lomond vs. Uddingston fixture. Winger Allan Wright summed up the feelings of the team in a post-game interview: “There is no better feeling than winning at home in front of such a great crowd. The boys all fought hard today and we can’t wait to play the final.”
Oban’s next fixture will be a home league game against Uddingston on 16th February. The game will be a perfect opportunity to exact revenge on the only team to halt The Green Machine’s charge this season in the league. Club President, Dee Bradbury is keen to replicate today’s big home support to help drive the team to success, “It’s been fantastic having so many loyal home fans on the sidelines for our games. The Clubhouse is always happy to welcome new supporters with warm hospitality.