SHETLAND Rugby Club kicked off their season last weekend with a rusty performance, going down 39-5 against a physical and well-drilled Banff team.
With a fresh northerly wind blowing through Clickimin, Shetland won the toss and decided to play against the wind in the first half. Banff kicked off and misjudged the wind strength to put the ball straight into touch, Shetland deciding to take the scrum at halfway. Banff made up for their early mistake by putting the Shetland scrum backwards and exerted pressure in midfield for Shetland to knock on. For the next 15 minutes Banff dominated the game and possession. Play was entirely in Shetland’s half. Banff were much sharper at the breakdown and were running direct lines in the backs.
With 18 minutes played Shetland gained possession and moved the ball wide, and after quick rucking second row Stuart Jamieson received the ball on the wing in space. With the cover defence closing in, Stuart kicked the ball upfield. The ball bounced straight to the Banff full back who took advantage of a disorganised chase from Shetland to make yardage and pass the ball for the wing to score at the corner. Conversion was missed to put Banff 5-0 ahead.
Shetland kicked off and Banff won the restart and made ground upfield though their forwards. The next 10 minutes saw Shetland again camped in their half, with Banff making ground through their forwards and backs. But Shetland’s scramble defence stopped Banff from extending their lead. Eventually from a scrum 5m out Banff extended their lead with their centre scoring after a missed tackle by Shetland in midfield. Conversion was made to put Banff 12-0 ahead.
The remaining 10 minutes of the half saw Shetland play their best rugby of the half. They did get around the Banff defence a couple of times but the cover managed to put first Peter Farquar and then Peter Sidgwick into touch after dangerous breaks.
With time running out in the half a long kick from Shetland was fielded by the Banff fullback. Again the Shetland chase was poor and the Banff player picked the gaps to run through and play the ball to the support to score. Conversion was missed and at half time Banff led 17-0.
Shetland kicked off the second half with the wind at their backs. After a rare turnover by Shetland and a long clearance kick by Shane Jamieson the ball went over the Banff fullback and continued to bounce over the try line. Peter Sidgwick had continued to chase the ball and looked to have beaten the Banff player to the ball for the touchdown. The referee was unsighted and curiously gave an attacking scrum to Shetland.
With play now at halfway Banff put pressure on Shetland’s lineout and were awarded the scrum. Banff went right with a backrow move and then moved the ball left with the backs and worked an overlap and executed well to score at the corner for the best try of the game. Conversion was missed to put Banff 22-0 ahead and secure the try bonus point midway through the half.
Now in Banff’s 22, Shetland were awarded a penalty in front of the posts. Shetland tapped the penalty and after another two phases scrum half Jon Pulley scored at the posts. Jon missed the conversion to take Shetland back to 22-5.
For the next five minutes play was at halfway with neither team looking likely to break through, but out of nothing a Banff forward burst through the Shetland defence and showed good pace to score. Conversion was made to put Banff 29-5 ahead and end Shetland’s slim chance of a win. Play continued and with 10 minutes remaining Stuart Jamieson was yellow carded for consistently infringing at rucks. Down to 14 men, Shetland struggled to contain Banff and let in two more tries to go 39-5 down.
With time running out Joe O’Conner received the ball and chipped ahead and when looking likely to score was impeded by a Banff player who joined Jamieson in the naughty boy’s corner. Final Score was 39-5 to Banff.
Beaten by the better drilled team who dominated the contact and collisions, Shetland will still be frustrated by the losing margin as half the Banff points were directly from fairly basic Shetland mistakes in defence. Best for the team were Peter Sidgwick and Lewis King in the backs, Matthew Nicholson and Dave Broadford in the forwards. James Sinclair, Ben Crainey and Iain Nicol put in decent debut performances.
This weekend Shetland travel to Huntly for the second game of the league campaign.
Training continues Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 18.30 at clickimin any players new or old are more than welcome. For more information log onto www.shetlandrugby.com