Even with the advantage of a home fixture, Premier three club Hillhead/Jordanhill from Glasgow were a tough prospect for Deeside U15 in the quarter finals of the National U15 Cup. Nevertheless, Deeside rose to the occasion and by the end of a very competitive, end to end, game were clear winners 24 points to 14.
In very cold conditions, with the first snow flurries of 2009 falling on Aboyne Green, Deeside kicked off the game. The Deeside pack were clearly fired up and the solid front five of Melvin McAskill, Angus Hart, Angus Wallace, Alex Taylor and Bradley Buchan took charge of the scrums immediately pushing the Hillhead scrum back a metre against the head. Unfortunately for Deeside with only six minutes on the clock and undaunted by the freezing temperatures Hillhead turned up the heat to open the scoring with a well worked ball moved quickly along their back line to their talented fullback who powered over to score under the posts. Hillhead’s number 10 converted effortlessly. In many previous games Deeside have sometimes let their heads drop after conceding an early score like this, but this was not at all the case in this game.
Right from the restart Deeside’s intentions to give everything to this game without relent were obvious as they immediately applied intense pressure on Hillhead. The pressure soon told with the back row trio of Garron Sutton, Tom Christie and Jack Irvine taking charge at the breakdowns, and with only fifteen minutes gone Deeside were rewarded with their first points as the forwards aggressive rucking began to pay off and quick ruck ball gave Luke Earle-Wright enough space to battle his way over for Deeside’s first try. Earle-Wright added the conversion and the score was tied at 7 all. This was a game that could have been won by either side and the rest of the first half saw both sides play some excellent attacking rugby only to be foiled by equally excellent defence. Deeside’s fullback Angus Rennie pulled of the best defensive effort of the game when to the amazement of all the players and spectators alike he held up what should have been a certain Hillhead try by chasing down and tackling the Hillhead centre who had already crossed the try line and was attempting to score the try closer to the posts. The half time whistle went with the sides tied at 7 points each.
The second half was no less competitive than the first. Deeside scored first through some good driving play involving both of the forward replacements Elliot Wood and Andrew Mullins and finished by Tom Christie, who did extraordinarily well to ground the ball as he was turned in a last ditch tackle. Luke Earle-Wright added the conversion and you could sense that Deeside were really starting to believe they could win this game. If there was one area of this game, compared to some previous games, that was a key area for Deeside it was their commitment to tackling. Hillhead constantly threatened to run around the outside of the Deeside defence but wings and wing replacements Paul Dargie, Daniel Fitzgerald, John Honey and Stuart Fraser all tackled ferociously, and well above their weight without any hesitation. The tackling of Angus Rennie at full back was also decisive and on several occasions his last line defensive effort was the only thing that stopped his opposite number from breaking through for a near certain try. Fifteen minutes into the second half was definitely one of Hillheads best attacking periods of the game. Centres John Crilly and Sam Morris were constantly putting in big tackles, but the effort involved in fending off wave after wave of attack eventually took it toll on the organisation of Deeside’s defensive alignment and Hillhead broke through for a score and conversion to level the game at 14 points each. At this point Deeside realised that they needed to raise their game one step higher and to their credit they did so. As in the first half pressure applied from the kickoff paid off as Deeside forced the errors and an isolated Hillhead player was penalised for holding on.
The pressure penalty was duly converted by Earle-Wright to take Deeside back to a 17:14 lead. Self belief is a powerful force and with five minutes left on the clock Deeside could see that a win was well within their reach. Sitting back in the comfort zone was not an option and Deeside continued to take the game to Hillhead.
The forwards rucking was excellent throughout this game and from a good ruck platform only 10 metres out scrum half Matthew Hillier made a break, drew the tackler, and popped a perfect ball to flanker Tom Christie who finished the attack with a try scoring dive at the base of the posts. With the conversion slotted Deeside now had a comfortable 10 point lead and despite the best efforts of Hillhead, who never ever gave up, time ran out with the final whistle signalling that Deeside were through to the last four of the National U15 cup. Without doubt one of the best aspects of this performance against a very good Hillhead/Jordanhill side was that Deeside played as a team with every single team member putting everything into this win. Both teams should be credited with a producing a very exciting game of rugby.