(LEAGUE) Kinloss Rugby Club Eagles 17 - 48 Aberdeenshire RFC
Posted on October 15, 2018
SHIRE MEN 1 & 1 AFTER 2 WITH 1ST VICTORY ON THE ROAD
After a narrow loss away to Shetland the week before, Aberdeenshire were looking to prove a point, and travelled to Kinloss with no doubts on what needed to be done. The bus leaving was delayed slightly due to some personnel issues on the morning, an injury to front row Shane and perennial no-shower Liam meaning some last minute team changes and a single substitute for the coming game.
Thanks to (probably) some stray sheep and the resultant mile long traffic jam, the bus was delayed - some of the guys were driving up ahead and tried to alert the bus to change course. But, the driver didn't get Gav Cunningham's words of wisdom, such as "I would tell the bus driver lad. Been stuck in this traffic for 30 mins lad" meaning the bus was snarled up and the 2 hour bus journey took what seemed like 7 hours to complete.
Following some discussion of whether the guys in the cars were definitely going to Kinross (or was it Kinloss?) the team arrived at the pitch minutes before kickoff. This meant Coach Barny had to adapt his warm up, and with the help of some key senior players the team looked ready. Everyone was buzzed for the challenge, having been told that winning was the only option.
The game kicked off with both teams putting in big aggressive hits and whipping the ball around the pitch. After the first 10 minutes Shire began to get the edge over Kinloss through some big carries from the forwards such as John 'The Cave Man' Henderson and old Shire veteran, The Fijian Mustang, Peni Dagaga. This helped Shire penetrate Kinloss’s defence like WD-40 on rust. The hard work of the forwards allowed Shires backs to play on the front foot, running sharp, abstract lines as if they were recreating an Andy Warhol masterpiece.
With the continued pressure pushing Kinloss into their own 22, the first score finally came from big ball-carrier Mark Littlejohn. He took his trademark crash ball off 9, and used the 'Front Rows Best Friend' - also known as gravity - to get him over the line. Jamie Stephen begun yet abother clinical afternoon with the boot, slotting the kick to make it 7-0 Shire.
The following Kinloss kick off put Shires receiving men under pressure, causing a knock on effect which put the Shire defence on the back foot. This allowed Kinloss to mount an attack deep into the Shire half, before the centre partnership of Tetley Tea Jonny Gray and Gavin 'Don't Get My Trainers Dirty' Cunningham put in a few heavy hits. This led to a Shire turnover and a chance to clear the lines. With this, Shire continued to apply pressure until some slick foot work and fast feet from Paul Harrow got him over the line for the second try of the day, again the conversion was good, 14-0 to Shire.
Kinloss were not disheartened, and redoubled their efforts - once again causing issues for Shire from the kick off by mounting yet another attack. Some great hard running and a miscommunication from Shire led to Kinloss getting themselves over the line to claw a score back, and take the scoreline to 14-7.
To their credit, the Shire lads took this in their stride and after some back and forth play from both teams, the Shire forwards got down the pitch with great runs from makeshift flankers, Matthew Lynch and Andy Falconer. Shire had just got into their opposition's 22, when Captain Jamie Stephen sent his opposite man the wrong way with a fantastic dummy and sidestep to get over the line and score, only to follow it with his own successful conversion, 21-7 to Shire.
The half time whistle went, and everyone was breathing heavily with the forwards really feeling the effects of having no substitutes for the day (despite some of them being supposedly 'fitter' backs). Coach Barny asked the guys to hold onto the intensity with which the first half had been played, to secure a winning outcome.
Shire kicked off the second half and instantly put Kinloss under pressure. Kinloss gained a brief respite following a Shire knock on, but with the Shire heads up and in the Kinloss 22, the guys were not ready to leave that section of the pitch empty handed. So the pack gave everything they had and with a huge concerted push, won the scrum against the head. The ball popped out into the waiting hands of Paul Harrow who was immediately off running with it. He handed off two players and then pinned his ears back then went for the line, finishing with a swan dive over the line. Conversion missed, 26-7 to Shire.
Play continued and everyone's legs were getting tired by this point. There were a few injuries and walking wounded on both sides, and also boys digging deep to give their best effort on the pitch. The Kinloss number 15 then found some space in the Shire defence and with quick feet, side stepped the last line of defence for a good individual score to keep the visitors in sight, 26-12.
Shire then dug into their reserve tanks, with guys supporting and encouraging each other, and the team playing as a unit. This led to Shire finding themselves with a penalty 5 meters out from the try line, and with a dummy pass from 9 missing the forwards and putting Jonny Gray under the posts. This was followed almost immediately by the Kinloss number 15 showing a bit of magic again. The side step king burst the line and skipped through the tackles of his opposite man and also the winger, making it over the line and bringing the score to 33-17, still in favour of the visitors.
There was a flurry of points scored in the next 5 minutes, Shire received a penalty for Kinloss not rolling away, and the captain Jamie decided to kick the penalty with his boot (and ego) being on fire, the kick sailed over. Shire poured the pressure on from the kick off and found themselves deep in opposition territory when centre Jonny Gray used his patented snake-hips dance move to crash over the line, bringing the score to 43-17 to Shire.
With just 2 minutes remaining on the clock, Shire won an attacking line out on the half way, and surged up the pitch spreading the ball wide and stretching the defence. This led Jamie to find a gap and got over the line for yet another try to Shire to end the game on a final score of 48-17.
At the end of the game it was clear a battle had just taken place, with shirts covered in sweat and blood - every player on both sides held themselves high with pride. The guys were surprised to find out the final score, as it was a much harder fought affair than the scoreline might suggest. But there were guys who gave ther all for the Shire badge on their chest and no team could have given more on the day.
All in all, everyone was happy - a much improved performance (and attitude) from the previous weeks game, and the perfect way to get the league campaign back on track. It shows what can be done with everyone staying positive, and working together as a team. The driver even stopped in Huntly on the way home, so the lads could grab a quick pint at a local inn, to quench their thirst.
Peni Dagaga won Man of the Match, thanks to his great ball carrying and huge effort he put in over the whole 80 minutes - a very deserving recipient.
Jamie Stephen got Dick of the Day, although no one seemed to be able to specify what he did to earn this accolade. Some say it's simply because someone had to be chosen, thanks to everyone doing so well on the day. Others say, what goes on in Huntly, stays in Huntly.
Match Report written by Thomas Dugdale 📝
Thank you to some of the Aberdeenshire Quines Rugby players for coming along to support after their match was cancelled! 🐆
Match Day Teamsheet: 1 John Henderson 2 Ronan McLachlan 3 Mark Littlejohn 4 Paul Watson 5 Peni Dagaga 6 Matt Lynch 7 Andrew Falconer 8 Thomas Dugdale 9 Paul Harrow 10 Jamie Stephen 11 Nick McBain 12 Jonny Gray 13 Gavin Cunningham 14 Fillan Kennedy 15 Khalid El Hidane 16 Jamie MacLean
Next up both the Shire Men and Women are at home on Saturday the 6th! The boys host Stornoway for a kick off of 3pm while our Quines host West of Scotland for the first time at Woodside, the kick off time is still to be confirmed 🏉
For afters we have our Race Night at the Ashvale from 7pm! There's still time to grab some tickets. Please contact Malcolm White on - 📞: 07793545027 🖱️: firstname.lastname@example.org All Welcome!