Brave Performance from U16s in National Cup
Strong showing from U16s against Currie in Quarter-Final match
Sunday's National Cup Quarter Final match at Malleny Park saw some great rugby from both sides in what was a high quality game. It was the home side that finally emerged as 25-10 winners; pulling away in the last 15 minutes.
Shire should be proud of their efforts against a side that had beaten them twice earlier in the season 55-5 and 40-0. Perth were also missing five big forwards from the squad this week. So despite exiting the competition, it was as impressive a performance as we have seen all season, and also demonstrates the huge progress being made by the team.
The game started brightly for the boys as they enjoyed some sustained territory in the Currie 22. On several occasions Perth were in touching distance of the try line only to be penalised or turned-over at the breakdown. Eventually the pressure told in the far corner following some great ball retention from forwards and backs alike. Aedan picked from the base of the ruck and spotted a gap on the whitewash to touch down for the opening score of the day.
Currie were quick to respond, and after some superb handling found half a yard of space out on the left - they took full advantage and added the conversion to take a 7-5 lead.
The remainder of the first half was a terrific battle with the boys fronting up against a much bigger pack; Perth were edging the scrum with some fantastic front-row work from Euan, Fin and Isaac, and Angus, Forbes and Ruaraidh were tirelessly offering themselves as ball carriers despite taking some massive hits. Every time the ball went through the hands in the backs the boys looked really sharp; some quick distribution from Alex C and Ben gave both Keir and Ross some room to attack the heart of the Currie defence. It was clear that the boys were causing Currie some problems which they hadn't faced that often this season, and increasingly there was a feeling that there could be a massive shock on the cards. In the final 5 minutes of the half, the boys defended resolutely as the Currie pressure mounted, including an unbelievable try saving covering tackle from Andy. Just on half-time Aedan took a head knock as a result of being on the end of a tip tackle, with the Currie player yellow-carded. Aedan missed the remainder of the game, with Lewis replacing him.
It was important for the boys to start the second -half well and take advantage of the 14 men; but to Currie's credit they retained possession and camped themselves in the Perth half for much of that time. Eventually a bit of magic from Keir opened up the opposition defence; Ben fed to Ross who offloaded to Keir who hit space between two defenders on our own 22 and put in a scintillating run up to the Currie 10 metre line before being brought to ground - he then had the presence of mind to pop pass to Alex C who had supported the ball carrier superbly - Alex had the pace to beat the covering defenders and score in the right corner. A top quality score, and one which restored Perth's lead (10-7).
Unfortunately the boys didn't deal very well with a difficult kick-off and the pressure was right back on them again. From a following line-out Currie dotted down for a converted try to re-take the lead.
As we entered the final quarter of the game, the home-side's greater strength and depth was staring to tell; more big forwards were unloaded from the bench and they started to hit great angles at pace off both 9 and 10. Perth however continued to tackle their hearts out - Adam in particular recording a massive tackle count. In fact during a second-half in which Currie enjoyed most of the possession it is difficult to remember a missed Perth tackle such was the commitment and effort from the boys. However, Shire were starting to get penalised at the breakdown, and with Currie realising that the game was very tight and not going to be a repeat of earlier encounters this season, they opted to kick for goal; three penalty kicks (none of them easy), gave the home side a bit of breathing room at 10-20.
The boys continued to battle, with Keir once again making a brilliant break from his own half deep into Currie territory; unfortunately on this occasion the pop pass to Andy didn't quite stick. The ferocity of the game was starting to take it's toll with Forbes limping off and a make-shift pack (containing two backs - Jamie and Blair) playing for the last final 15 minutes.
It was a bit harsh on the boys that they conceded a slightly dubious injury time try right at the end, as the game was much closer than perhaps the end scoreline looked.
So whilst it's a huge disappointment to exit the National Cup, the boys should be proud of their performance against a team that may be good enough to go on and win it (we'll see over the coming weeks). Despite a number of boys missing, they raised their game superbly, tackled like their lives depended on it and showed real heart. They have set the benchmark for the rest of the squad, and the rest of the season.
Final Score: Currie 25-10 Perthshire
Team: Euan, Fin, Isaac, Ruaraidh (c), Duncan, Angus C, Adam, Forbes, Alex C, Ben, Alex S, Ross J, Keir, Aedan, Andy, Jamie, Blair, Lewis, Johno
Try Scorers: Aedan, Alex C
1. Keir - the team's most dangerous player in attack with two excellent breaks, solid in defence as well.
2. Angus C - had to take on the role of the main forward ball carrier against much bigger defenders - great job.
3. Adam - made so many tackles in defence, and worked hard at the breakdown.
Special mentions for Fin for his huge work rate and fitness, Ruaraidh for his ball carrying and first rate leadership on the pitch and Alex C for his excellent support of the ball carrier and sniping around the breakdown.