Some games are more memorable than others and there can be no doubt that Deeside’s U15’s fixture with Highland at Canal Park in Inverness was a game that both players and spectators will not forget in a hurry. Despite the forecast of rain and more rain both sides were looking forward to this top of the Caledonian North league table clash with neither side having lost a game thus far. The wet conditions made a running game difficult and the forward battle that ensued was intense right from the kick off. Highland were clearly strong up front and their powerful number eight led a number of bruising attacks.
Deeside defended well, but when Highland were awarded a scrum only five metres out from Deeside’s try line and close to touch, the Highland number eight picked up and was unstoppable from close range down the blind side, although Paul Dargies effort to defend the line was commendable. The rain continued to lash down and the score went unconverted. Deeside’s turn to score came next, when the ball was moved quickly wide and Patrick Nicol managed to outpace the defence with an arcing run. Highland were clearly taken aback by Deesides attitude and there was little doubt that this game was not going to be a stroll for either side. The half ended with another score for Highland to put them back in the lead 10:5.
The second half saw some of the best rugby the Deeside team has played. Their resilience in defence was outstanding, consistently dealing with determined Highlands attacks. Given the conditions, Angus Rennie playing at fullback put in some tremendous return kicks, relieving the pressure as Highland tried to play a tactical game. The battle up front was no less determined as the forwards gave everything in the rucks and mauls. And Deesides technique in the scrums was superb repeatedly turning over Highland ball with an eight man shove. In the wet and now quite slippery conditions the lineouts were more difficult to control and Tom Christie did well to vary the options to cope with a canny opponent who clearly knew how to disrupt the opposition catcher and get away with it. Eventually, the pressure exerted by Deeside in defence seemed to sap some of the energy of the Highland team and sensing this Deeside upped the pressure and intensity of their own attacks. As a result, most of the second half was played in the Highland end and eventually Highland’s defence was breached by Luke Earle-Wright who needed all his power to break through several tackles for a try that levelled the score at 10:10. Highland continued to play their kicking game and eventually gained good field position and with a turn over at the ruck threw the ball wide and their outside centre had the pace to score in the corner. With only seven minutes left to play Deeside knew that they could still win this game and they continued to attack the Highland line. A blind side move ending up with John Crilly with the ball in hand was unlucky not to produce a try as John was desperately bundled into touch just 5 metres short. Both Patrick Nicol and Tom Christie were also stopped just short of the line and in each case as the attacking ruck formed Deeside were set back with penalties for handling on the ground. At the final whistle the relief of the Highland team at having adsorbed the constant Deeside pressure to hold on for a win was evident. This was a great game of rugby to watch between two very good sides, both playing some good rugby in difficult conditions. The Highland hospitality was very evident in the Club house afterwards with a buffet laid on for both the players and the travelling supporters. Unfortunately, the three hour trip back turned into six when the bus got stuck in half a metre of water on the Alford Road between Dunecht and Westhill. The fire brigade were unable to risk bringing their vehicle through the flood but thanks to Ernie Lee and a passing lorry driver the bus was pulled out and the players delivered safely back home – a memorable day for sure. Next league match is Sunday 8th November against Wanderers/Garioch combined side and is likely to be played at Kellands park, Inverrurie with a 12 noon KO, check the website for latest details http://www.deeside-rfc.co.uk/ Deeside: Joe Birdsey, Thomas Christie, John Crilly, Paul Dargie, Kyle Dawson, Luke Earle-Wright, James Ferguson, Daniel Fitzgerald, Stuart Fraser, Angus Hart, Matthew Hillier, Joney Honey, Jack Irvine, Melvin McAskill, Sam Morris, Patrick Nicol, Angus Rennie, Garran Sutton, Alex Taylor, Angus Wallace, Elliot Wood.