Heroic and classy performance but more last minute agony for Shire
Once again Shire defeated by a score in the final play of the match but what an effort the boys put in.
Perthshire 22 – Carrick 24
It was almost 150 years to the day since the first ever Perthshire side took to the North Inch to play their inaugural game against the Army. The game has changed a lot since then but the spirit, passion and skill embodied by Saturday’s team would surely have matched that of their predecessors in 1869.
When the Shire team was announced their supporters were salivating at the thought of being able to field what was probably their strongest team of the season. Unfortunately, Carrick were also able to field their strongest team but what ensued was an exhilarating game of rugby played with no quarter given and was undoubtedly the most thrilling match of the season to date.
Shire kicked off in front of a good home support but also a large turnout of supporters from Carrick. Carrick, who had trained continuously throughout the festive period started the game strongly and kept Shire pinned in their own half. After rattling up 50 points against Perthshire earlier in the season they could have been forgiven for thinking that they were in for an easy afternoon. They were soon made aware that this would not be the case. Dan Rae, brother Matt and Pete Saunders put in some bone crunching tackles and the forwards stood rock solid against the onslaught. After weathering the opening storm, the Eagles went on the attack. The forwards drove downfield, Scott Alcorn joined in to slip the ball to Duncan Clow and when he was halted he popped it to Jonny Armitt and he doesn’t waste many chances. Shire grabbed the lead and Armitt then converted his own try. Both teams were driving into the opposition like demons with Kieran Ramsay, Callum Croughan and Ewen Macdonald in the front row all showing up tremendously both in defence and attack. The Eagles scored again but the referee called them back for obstruction and the try was disallowed. They then conceded a needless and silly penalty and handed the impetus back to Carrick who took full advantage and followed it up with a demoralising try and the teams went into half time at 7 all.
Shire were fired up for the 2nd half and Ewen Macdonald battered his way through several tackles to set the ball up and the backs did well to split the visiting defence and Graeme Clow showed great strength and power to battle his way over the line in the corner. The crowd were wincing at the power in the bone crunching tackles being dished out by both teams but Pete Saunders crashed through only to be thwarted at the last minute. Callum Croughan intercepted a pass to almost score as Shire piled on the pressure. They won a penalty which was sent into touch and a great catch and drive paid off when Croughan barged over to increase the Eagles lead. Carrick had lost Jardine their most influential player by this time and Perthshire were taking full advantage while he was off the field. The home team camped themselves on the Carrick line but even the best attempts of Bowater, Clow, MacKessack-Leitch and the rest of the team could not prise a hole through the Carrick defence. Shire won a scrum and Alcorn used his incredible pace to scamper over for Shire’s bonus point try. The sheer intensity of the game was taking its toll and Saunders, Macdonald and captain Ryan Miller were taken off with injuries but Jardine returned for Carrick and despite all efforts from Shire, they had the upper hand in the closing 15 minutes and it was that man Jardine who sliced through the Shire defence to score and set up a nail biting and even more thrilling last 10 minutes. Duncan Clow was just wide with a monstrous 50 metre penalty attempt and then brother Graeme looked as though he had scored but the referee judged the final pass forward.
It was now all down to the last play of the game and for the 2nd game running Perthshire sustained a defeat in the final seconds as Carrick’s pressure paid off with the late late try and they travelled home with 5 points.
Shire have came away with 3 points out of their last couple of games but could so easily have made that 10 which would have shot them up into the top half of the league. The team are playing brilliant rugby and the defence is unrecognisable from earlier in the season. A trip to Haddington beckons on Saturday and there is no doubt that the huge Carrick support was instrumental in egging on their team to the win and Perthshire would love more supporters to join the team. Come along to Bells at 11.15 for a free seat in the bus to help the boys on.