Aberdeenshire Take Full Advantage of Lacklustre PL
No joy at The Pennypit as PL come home for the first time this season
Following on from last week's gutsy but ultimately unsuccessful visit to Kelso, Preston Lodge were hoping to get their home league campaign up and running in style. Unfortunately, a combination of poor play, too many mistakes and not least, a classy Aberdeenshire side led to a difficult afternoon at The Pennypit with only a losing bonus point for consolation.
Things started off well enough with Robbie Griffin, Euan Higgins and Paul Glynn linking together well to get the ball deep into the Aberdeenshire 22 right from the kick off but then the ball was lost and a fast break by the visitors saw the ball carried the length of the field through far too many missed tackles which allowed Horrocks to stroll past the stretched PL defence to score in the corner.
This was to be the first of 12 tries for Aberdeenshire who clearly had their tails up after a decent win at Kirkcaldy last week and there's no doubt that even at this early stage, it's clear that they will be contenders for promotion. On the other hand, PL have plenty to do to try to turn things around to get their season on track.
In many ways, it was a strange performance from the home side because although things didn't look good when the score was 0-19 after only 17 minutes, they knuckled down well and put together a spell of decent rugby which brought two tries that got them back in the game.
The first came from a good link between half backs Dale Gordon and Robbie Griffin and when the stand-off beat the defence with a neat side step, this was enough to create a gap for centre Ewan Runciman to nip through and score under the posts. Griffin added the conversion to make the score 7-19.
Just five minutes later, that scoreline became 12-19 when a opportunistic Griffin kick sent the ball along the ground into the 22 and Gordon was on hand to get in front of the defence and touch down in the corner.
Despite losing too much possession and territory through mistakes and poor discipline in open play, the PL pack were holding their own in the set piece and their third try came five minutes before the break and was created by two pieces of good play. Firstly, a chip over the defence resulted in a chase to the line which from the stand, it looked like Ewan Runciman had won, The referee thought diferently though and judged that the defence had prevented the centre from touching down. The result was a five metre scrum for PL and as soon as Gordon had put the ball in, the outcome was never in doubt. A controlled push had Aberdeenshire going backwards and Jason Riley coolly controlled things at the back before picking up and scoring with ease. Griffin converted but Aberdeenshire would immediately go on to score their fifth try and negate any elation as the score was now a rather gloomy 19-33 at the break.
If the first half had been a struggle, the second turned into a slog for PL as their performance levels dropped which led to frustration, poor play and ill discipline and Aberdeenshire were good enough to take full advantage and score a try almost almost every time they got the ball, so that the scoreline quickly opened up to 19-68.
The final twist for PL came in the 75th minute when strangely, given the events that had gone before, a brilliant passage of play brought about one of the best tries of the game and a try scoring bonus point. It started when Jason Riley intercepted an Aberdeenshire pass in his own 22 and broke 50 metres downfield. He never had the legs to beat the chasing defence but kept a cool head to find Dale Gordon with a pass as he was tackled in the 22. The scrum half looked like he might make it to the line but a great cover tackle brought him down just short, however he was able to pop the ball up from the tackle and it was Riley who pounced on it to finish off the move that he had started in style. Griffin's conversion completed PL's scoring for the day but the visitors would score another two tries before the end which would make the final score 26-80.
Despite the poor performance, many of PL's woes can be fixed on the training field so there will be plenty of work to do in the week ahead before they travel to play West of Scotland next Saturday. KO 3pm.
Preston Lodge Team:
P Glynn, E Higgins, E Runciman, B Robertson, N Ross, R Griffin, D Gordon
CD Lyall, T Johnson, C Blaikie, S MacColl, J Sked, C Dixon, P Johnstone, J Riley
C MacLeod, J Clipston, B Cowan, F Hughes