Deeside U18 travelled to Inverness on Saturday to take on Highland in a top of the table clash in the Caledonia North Premier League, Highland having qualified for this league by winning the North West league, while Deeside had tied for top spot in the North East league. Highland started the game at a furious pace and were able to claim an early score. Their powerful and skilful Number 8 broke on the blindside and showed good pace to go round the initial defence and strength to hand off would be tacklers. When he was finally stopped, an offload to the right wing created an unopposed run in to the corner. Deeside were slow to learn from this, as the second try for Highland was very similar. Harvey MacCauley on Deeside's left wing made the tackle to set up a maul. Highland quickly recycled the ball and their Number 8 broke down the now unmarked left wing. Again he made substantial progress before an offload to the right wing who claimed his second score. This time the conversion added a further two points.
Deeside finally overcame the effects of their long journey and began to compete. There was parity in the scrums with props Melvin McAskill and Scott Beatie providing a solid platform all afternoon. Deeside's flankers Chris Ballentyne and Tom Christie were prominent in chasing down the opposition and putting in the tackles that earlier had been missing, while Angus Wallace and Malcolm Diack looked to carry the ball and gain the hard yards. In the backs, Angus Rennie was an assured presence at fly half and mixed up the play with deep kicks to relief pressure and gain field position together with well timed passes to release his outside backs. However, the next score again fell to Highland when Deeside was adjudged to have entered a ruck from the side and the simple penalty from in front of the posts was kicked. This merely inspired Deeside to redouble their efforts and play was taken deep into the Highland half. A series of drives were repelled by Highland before the ball fell to Fraser Gordon who squirmed over for the try. In the face of a very strong opposition, Fraser was having one of his best performances for Deeside and his score was fully merited. However, it was Highland that finished the half the stronger, claiming a further try from driving play off a five metre scrum.
In the second half, Deeside more than held their own and were responsible for the best attacking moves. Angus Rennie and Tobias Cochrane-Dyet challenged the defence of the Highland backs and manoeuvred Calum Gordon into space. His strong and elusive running was a prominent feature of the half and it took some desperate tackling to stop him. Gaps were beginning to appear and Joe Grimble at scrum half made an excellent break; hooker Angus Hart found himself charging through the middle with most of the opposition behind him; and George Watt at full back counter-attacked with profit on kicks through. This was George's first game for Deeside at full back, but a display of solid tackling, good positioning and strong running in counter-attack bode well for future games in this position. With a little more fortune, Deeside could have had enough scores to have won this match. However, passes and offloads were not made and possession was lost, so these chances went begging. Instead, it was Highland that claimed the only score of the half with a try under the posts which was duly converted after Highland had been awarded a scum close to Deeside's tryline. Highland were a very well organised team with some excellent players and deserved their victory. However, there were signs that Deeside can compete and look forward to the opportunity to claim the points in the reverse fixture.
Deeside from: M. McAskill, A. Hart, S. Beatie, A. Wallace, F. Gordon, T. Christie, C. Ballentyne, M. Diack, J. Grimble, A. Rennie, H. MacCauley, T. Cochrane-Dyet, C. Gordon, J.McGowan, G. Watt, J. Watt, K. Dawson