Alloa Front Up In Horrible Conditions

Strathspey RFC.................17

Alloa RFC..........................22

 

The local rugby club’s quest to finish the season as league champions looked to be in serious jeopardy midway through this match at Kingussie.  This was a game which they were expected to win, but with only 30 minutes remaining they found themselves 17-3 behind and temporarily down to 14 men when influential Scrum Half, Gary Bryce was given 10 minutes in the sin bin. However, they rallied magnificently and snatched a victory with a winning try in the last minute.

Alloa started the match well and went 3-0 up in the first 5 minutes from the boot of Matt Allan. For the next 10 minutes they dominated in terms of territory and possession but failed to add to their point’s tally which was mainly due to making too many basic errors whilst in threatening positions. This inability to convert pressure into points was punished by the home side as they scored a good try when their back row captain made a surging run through the heart of Alloa’s defence for a converted score. There appeared to be no need for panic as the score was slightly against the run of play. However, when the Highland side added another converted score shortly before the break the alarm bells were well and truly ringing.

As the teams turned around for the second period, Alloa knew that their season probably hinged on what would take place in the next 40 minutes.  And just as they thought that things could not get any worse the home side started the half by increasing their lead to 17 -3 when Gary Bryce was penalised for lying on the wrong side following a tackle and the referee decided to show him the yellow card, resulting in 10 minutes on the sidelines.

At this point the odds on Alloa salvaging anything from this game appeared remote. However, the sending off seemed to galvanise the side and incredibly they proceeded to play some of their best rugby of the match. The mistakes which had littered the first half performance disappeared and the forwards started to play with more cohesion to ensure that the backs received quick, clean ball. From one such move, Rab Truesdale crashed over the line from 10 metres out and the visitors sensed that maybe the tide was turning as Matt Allan added the conversion.  Alloa were now back to a full complement of players, however, the home side was determined not to let their lead slip and they proved to be dogged in defence, but Alloa were in the ascendency now and they were forced to defend deeper than they had done previously. 

With 10 minutes to go and still trailing by 7 points the Alloa forwards drove at their counterparts with a series of pick and drives and just when it appeared that the onslaught would prove unsuccessful, James Shaw drove through a pile of defenders to score out wide. The young Hooker who was standing in for the injured Dale Foster, had an outstanding match and thoroughly deserved his score. The pressure was now on Matt Allan as he faced a difficult kick from an extremely tight angle to bring the side’s level.  The Full Back struck the ball perfectly and the ball sailed between the posts.

With time running out inspirational skipper, Rab Truesdale was forced to retire injured and it looked like Alloa would have to settle for a share of the spoils, but with a minute to go they were awarded a scrum 5 metres out. The home side sensed that Alloa would opt for the chance at a drop goal when Stand Off, Stevie Skelton dropped deep to receive a pass, but instead No.8, Scott Harrison picked up from the base of the scrum and stormed forward before releasing a perfectly timed ball to his back division. They then produced some copy book passing to set up evergreen, Centre Neil Russell who dived over much to the joy of his fellow players, management and supporters.

The final whistle soon followed and Alloa had secured a victory which appeared to be beyond their grasp only half an hour earlier. Each and every player deserves enormous credit as during this period they displayed incredible spirit and commitment.  None more so than Prop, James Dawson who worked tirelessly all afternoon and was deservedly awarded the man of the match.