1st XV - Report
|Isle of Mull||0||vs||33||Oban Lorne|
The Green Machine conquer ‘Fortress Garmony’
Oban Lorne made it two wins from two against their local rivals in the league with a bonus point victory in Mull.
Both teams were boosted by the return of many young guns who had been away at university, the passion of the local derby being too much for the students to ignore. Oban Lorne’s starting line-up featured a very experienced set of players including the formidable Smith twins, Cammy and Struan as well as South African stalwart, Corrie Louw at number 8. In front of a passionate support, both travelling and local, the game kicked off with Mull receiving the ball deep.
The Mull team are known for the pace and guile of their back line, and immediately looked to take advantage of this with some direct running. Oban’s powerful front line formed a very strong wall of defence, delivering some big tackles to keep Mull pinned back in their own half. It wasn’t long until the first scrum of the game was called following a knock on from an Oban player. Immediately from the put-in, it was clear that the much larger pack of The Green Machine had the upper hand, forcing Mull backwards to create the turnover. The “Highlander from Hell” Tommy Sutherland impressed at loosehead prop, causing all sorts of problems for his opposite number.
However a combination of some determined Muileach tackling and silly unforced errors from the Oban back line, kept the game scoreless. At times, Oban looked like they were out of synch with each other with many passes going astray. Mull almost benefitted from this shaky play, with their winger latching on to a wayward pass to run free down the right wing, only to be called back for offside by the referee.
Nerves were settled a little for the away team on 25 minutes, as the Oban Lorne forwards took it upon themselves to take control of the game with some direct pick-and-go play from the breakdown. This quickly had Mull pinned back on their own try-line, giving everything in the tackle to prevent a score. Eventually the ball came to Tommy Sutherland, who blasted through the line to touch down near the posts. A successful conversion from the cultured boot of Craig Wright made the score 7-0 to The Green Machine.
As the game progressed, the passion of the players became more evident, with some spirited running and stodgy defending. At the half hour mark, Oban lost winger Allan Wright to a knee injury, the player aggravating an existing knock whilst breaking a tackle. Nonetheless, the visiting team powered on thanks to some elusive sidestepping from Cammy Smith and bone-shuddering tackles from “Mr. Beast” Andy MacDougall.
The Oban scrum continued to dominate the smaller pack of the island team, forcing turnovers at an alarming rate for the hosts. Another period of powerful pick-and-go, combined with some impressive mauling allowed Corrie Louw to touch down for Oban’s second try of the game five minutes before half time. The Superhuman Springbok displaying why he is so valued by the team with yet another try this season under the posts. Craig Wright split the posts beautifully to add the conversion. Isle of Mull RFC 0-14 Oban Lorne.
As the first half ended, the wind was picking up in Garmony, causing problems for kickers on both teams. Combined with the wide pitch, this meant that finding touch became an issue for even the most experienced players. Even though the lineouts were few and far between, Mull’s young squad impressed in this area, winning the ball on several occasions. As the referee blew his whistle to end the first half, it gave the coaches a chance to reflect on the opening period of the game and plan ahead for what was to be an exciting second half.
Team Manager, Darrell Williams kept the Oban players focused on their goal, reminding them that the game wasn’t won yet and that Mull would no doubt be keen to score quickly from the restart. With a very vocal support in the stands, The Green Machine knew that there was no time for complacency.
As the second half commenced, a titanic game of back and forth rugby emerged, with each team probing to find a weak spot in their opponent’s line. The harder each team tried, the more the players upped the tempo. Injuries also started to occur more frequently in the game, including a gruesome looking suspected nose break suffered by Mull’s young star, Eoghann MacLachlainn. Thankfully the experienced medical staff were on hand to treat the 2nd row player who had made the long trip up from Strathclyde University for the game.
Despite some creative passing and quick feet from the Mull back line, Oban’s much larger pack continued to be the thorn in the side of their opponents. With The Green Machine reducing their number of handling errors, it allowed Corrie Louw to break through the line once more to score his second try of the game on 55 minutes. Craig Wright made it three from three with his conversion, to take the score to 21-0.
Many teams’ players would have let their heads go down at that point, but the defiant and brave Mull squad continued to test the mettle of their local rivals. There was no doubt that this derby meant as much to the players as it did to the partisan support in attendance. Tempers began to flare on both sides of the ball, as both teams fought for victory. On the hour mark, Oban’s Calum MacLachlan was shown a straight red card for allegedly swinging a boot out in anger at an opponent. Despite his protestations, Oban would need to finish the game with fourteen men on the park.
Now, more than ever, the experienced heads of the veterans in the Oban line-up were required to ensure that The Green Machine didn’t implode. Mull attempted to seize the opportunity created by their one man advantage, using the overlap to move the ball forward with pace. Unfortunately, their momentum was halted by a knock-on near the half-way line. Once again, the Oban scrum earned the spoils, allowing the visitors to once again put pressure on the lighter pack on the home team. Jamie “Jambo” MacMillan showed his game sense, with some excellent hand-offs to gain ground on his opponents.
Eventually, Cammy Smith found a hole in the Mull line after breaking two tackles, reaching to touch down for his first try of the game. The former Scotland Universities player cemented his place as Oban’s top scorer this season , whilst also securing a bonus point for the visitors. Craig Wright once again navigated the increasing wind to convert successfully, bringing the score to 28-0 in favour of the Green Machine.
As Mull fought to prevent the score from increasing, they turned to experience, bringing on local legend Angus MacColl to bolster their pack. This gave the hosts a boost, as the intelligent veteran took charge of the line, plugging the holes that had appeared. However, Mull soon found themselves in trouble on their own goal line, allowing Oban’s forwards to add pressure with repeated attacks from Robin MacQueen , Corrie Louw and Andy MacDougall. As MacColl dug in at the breakdown, he was penalised for handling the ball on the deck, receiving a yellow card for his efforts.
With the numbers now evened up, it was just a matter of time before Cammy Smith finished the game off with his second try. The wind and rain finally took its toll on the kicking, with Craig Wright narrowly missing his final conversion, but not many would have succeeded in the deluge of wet weather that was now hitting the playing field. Isle of Mull RFC 0-33 Oban Lorne.
As the referee signalled the end of the game, a roar let up from the visiting support. Both teams congratulated each other warmly , but it was obvious that the away team were leaving the field much happier. The Green Machine are now in a very favourable position in the league, lying in 2nd place, two points behind leaders Loch Lomond, with one game in hand.
Oban’s quest for promotion will have to be put on hold for a week, as their attentions turn to cup action next weekend at Glencruitten. The Green Machine will play host to Paisley in the semi-final of the RBS West Regional Bowl. After their demolition of Birkmyre 74-10 in the quarter-final, Oban Lorne will be fully charged and ready to impress. Following the game, supporters are welcome in the Clubhouse to watch live coverage of the Calcutta Cup Six Nations match. The action all kicks off at 1.00pm.