1st XV - Report
Winning streak ends for Strathmore
After a 3 week break from competitive rugby, Strathmore made the long trip up the A9 to Inverness to face Highland at Canal Park.
However it was the home side who made the break through after just 8 minutes when a Highland player broke through a few tackles to release a pass to a team mate who was stopped by a fantastic last ditch tackle by Dave Smith, unfortunately the home side had players in support and after an off load they had a try beneath the posts. Ferocious tackling from Bruce Morrice and Colin Bell stopped the home team from gaining territory through their strike runners, but a kick through from the Highland fullback bounced kindly for his winger who kicked and chased the ball over the try line to score a second try for the northern men.
Stewart Ross and Mike Bruce attempted to get the vistors back into the game with good link play in the midfield, which released Dave Smith, the winger using his trademark ‘step’ beat several defenders but was unable to make it to the try line. Strathie huffed and puffed, but couldn’t blow a hole through the highland defence, despite attempts from back row men Morrice and Jamie Wilson, the visitors were unable to turn pressure into points. The half finished with highland kicking 2 penalties to lead 18-0 at half time.
Prop, Tim Malkowski was replaced by Ben Fotheringham in the front row, as the second half got underway. Highland restarted well, and only due to some great defence were they unable to add to their lead. Eventually they were able to score, after a series of drives from the home forwards, a gap appeared in the visiting defence, allowing the second row to power over the line.
23 points behind, Strathie lost Jamie Wilson to the sin bin, after an offence at a ruck. The decision baffled both sets of players and supporters, but the referee wasn’t going to change his mind. Minutes later Highland added a 4th try to make the score 28-0.
Wilson returned to the field as Strathmore pushed to get back into the contest. With Calum Nicol making solid tackles, and Jamie McLaren finding space with a few well placed kicks, it seemed that the visitors could turn things around – however time was running out. Lee Alexander and Ewen Hart replaced the impressive Morrice and Nicol, as coach Dave Brown added in the youth for the remaining 15 minutes. Good hands from the back line saw half chances for Bruce and Connor Blackmore but both were hampered by last gasp tackles from Highland defenders- however play was pulled back for a penalty, after an infringement in the middle of the park. A sweetly struck Stewart Ross penalty landed into touch just 10 metres short of the try line. The throw from Glenn Feighan was snapped out the air by Hart, who brought the ball down to be driven by the waiting pack. A powerful surge from the dominant forwards (Dissel, Bell and Gray) ploughed towards the line. With Wilson keeping the ball at the back, the men ahead of him crossed the line and Wilson crashed over for the try. The final few minutes saw no change to the scoreboard, which delighted the home support, as they once again saw their side remain unbeaten at Canal Park.
Bruce Morrice received Man of the Match for his efforts in both defence and attack, but he and his team mates know there is a lot of work to do, as Strathmore look to vastly improve the overall performance for next weekend’s clash with league leaders Aberdeenshire at Inchmacoble.
Match Report by Ewen Hart