U15s Win to Reach Caley Shield Final
An incredible defensive performance saw the U15s through their semi-final match against Deeside
It was at times a real back to the wall defensive performance which eventually saw the U15s through to the Caley Shield final.
For much of the game, and in the second half in particular, the boys made tackle after tackle to repel an excellent Deeside team. However, it was Perthshire's ability to take their chances (on the rare occasion they came along), which made the telling difference on the scoreboard.
The first ten minutes of the game saw the visitors dominating possession; with an effective narrow game they retained possession superbly and camped themselves in the Perth half. When we did get some ball, there was a real sharpness about the back three in particular with Alex LL, Alex S and Andy all linking up to find space. Up front Duncan, Ross P and Archie were carrying the ball well and consistently getting over the gain-line.
Perthshire opened the scoring following our first visit to their 22; working through the phases with a bit of patience, eventually an opportunity opened up for Archie to hit a weak defensive shoulder and power over. Alex LL kicked an impressive conversion from out wide, and the boys led 7-0.
Innes came on at stand-off to replace Blair who took a painful knock to the knee, and he was immediately involved; spotting a gap and showing quick feet to get Perth moving forward. Once again, when we were able to get some width, the boys looked dangerous, and as the ball was shifted right, Alex LL showed great strength and determination to break through two tackles and run round under the posts for Perth's second try of the day. At half-time he boys led 12-0, but we all knew it wasn't over.
The second-half was almost exclusively played in the Perth half, as Deeside launched wave after wave of attack; occasionally going wide, but mainly sending up some strong ball carriers around the ruck. They got their reward eventually when they broke nicely around the blind-side and for once we just didn't have the numbers in place to keep them out. With the conversion going over, things were tight again at 12-7.
We introduced fresh legs with Ben, Saul and Junior all coming on the pitch. Saul worked hard to get a great turnover, and Ben (starting at scrum-half and then moving to centre) was accurate in his distribution and defensively had a huge tackle count.
For the next 15 minutes, the boys were locked in their own 22 making tackle after tackle; some of the hits from Duncan and Archie were hugely physical and behind the gain-line which gave the team a bit of relief, but we were still finding it virtually impossible to win the ball back at the breakdown as the visitors cleared out brilliantly. Our defensive line-speed remained good with Keir and Ross J giving their backs very little room to shift the point of attack wider, and this line-speed forced the occasional handling error as well which gave the opportunity to clear our lines. Andy was immense with his clearing kicks from his own in-goal area reaching the half-way line to provide some brief respite. However with our scrum and line-out under massive pressure and Deeside looking like they could run at us all day, we just couldn't get a proper foothold in the second half.
With five minutes to go, it looked for all the world that Deeside had scored as one of their big ball carriers crossed the try-line; as he dived to touch down, Ben, targeting the ball in the tackle, dislodged it successfully and saved a certain try under the posts - indeed possibly saved the game.
With a couple of minutes remaining and as the boys found themselves under more defensive pressure, Aedan broke left in his 22 and cleared a kick ahead, Andy chased and hacked on into the Deeside 22, and for the first time in what seemed like a lifetime, Perthshire had good field position. From a scrum the boys went right through Innes, Ben and then Ross running a loop around Alex LL. Both Alex and Andy then carried to within five metres, before Archie picked up from the base and running left put a beautiful flat pass in for Ben who crashed over for the decisive score. With Alex LL converting to make it 19-7, the boys played out the last minute before (to their relief) the full-time whistle sounded.
So a wonderful defensive performance from the team, and the boys were clinical in taking their opportunities, but lots to work on between now and the end of the season.
A word for Deeside, who were excellent all day, very sporting, and probably deserved more from the game than they got.
Perthshire will now go on and play in the Caley Shield final against Dundee Rugby on 29th April - so keep your diary free for that day!
Final Score: Perthshire 19 - 7 Deeside
Team: Euan, Fin, Josh, Ruaraidh (c), Duncan, Archie, Forbes, Ross P, Aedan, Blair, Alex S, Keir, Ross J, Alex LL, Andy, Saul, Allan, Junior, Ben, Innes, Noah
1. Duncan - outstanding tackle rate/work, and carried relentlessly
2. Ben - only played 25 minutes but huge impact defensively, saved a certain try and scored the winning try
3. Ross P - consistently got the team over the gain-line with some aggressive ball carrying