Duns 37, Shetland 6
Shetland Rugby Club lost last weekend away to Duns in the second round of the Scottish Hydro Electric Plate Competition.
On arrival in Duns the referee decided that the home pitch was unplayable due to frozen patches near the try lines. Fortunately there was a contingency plan which saw both teams travel over the border to Berwick Rugby Club and play on their second pitch.
Shetland won the toss and decided to play against the strong diagonal wind in the first half.
Duns kicked off and put the ball deep into the Shetland 22.
Shetland kept possession and went through a couple of phases in the forwards, but after they failed to make much headway the ball was passed to stand-off Shane Jamieson who booted the ball into touch. Duns won the line-out and started going through a number of phases. Duns were making more progress than Shetland in possession and were able to commit fewer numbers to the breakdown.
The Shetland team were tenacious in defence and although losing ground were able to pressurise Duns into the odd mistake. After 15 minutes of play in Shetland territory Duns moved the ball wide and an inside pass was intercepted by full back Jon Pulley. He broke to halfway where a desperate tap tackle by the Duns cover defence managed to halt his progress.
Duns soon had possession again and after a further five minutes of pressure scored a try. The ball was moved wide from a ruck and the winger collected the pass and ran in to score at the corner. The conversion was missed.
For the next 10 minutes Duns were in possession, looking dangerous, but Shetland defended well. Shetland did manage to win a few line-outs against the throw but again struggled to make any telling yardage in possession.
After 32 minutes Duns scored their second try. The ball was spun wide and with two Shetland players going for the ball the winger was left free to run in. Another missed conversion meant the score was 10-0.
Three minutes later the Borderers scored again. With Shetland winger Peter Sidgwick down injured, Duns showed good composure to create an overlap and finish the move off in corner. The conversion was missed.
Shetland made a change, taking the injured Sidgwick off and reshuffling the team to move Iain Nicol to the wing from scrum half and flanker Dave Broadford stepping into the scrum half role. With Shetland still camped in their half they tried to run the clock out until half time.
Duns got possession back, however, and in the final move of the half managed to score after a clever offload by their Maori number eight. Again the conversion was missed to put Duns 20-0 ahead at half time.
Shetland started the second half and for the next 20 minutes achieved stalemate.
Playing in the Duns half for sustained periods, Shane Jamieson used the wind to kick downfield. From scrummages number eight Matthew Nicholson and Broadford were able to get the forwards moving into their pick and drive game. Shetland did kick two penalties deep into the Duns 22 but unfortunately could not win clean line-out ball on either occasion.
Shetland’s best chance was when Jamieson chipped ahead to turn the Duns defence but good covering by the number eight saw him collect the ball under their posts when Shetland were looking for a favourable bounce.
Going into the final 20 minutes Duns changed their tactics by kicking over the top to turn the Shetland defence. This soon brought dividends as a kick was chased and a turnover in the Shetland 22 was moved quickly wide. The Shetland cover could not make up the ground as the Duns player scored at the corner. Another missed conversion meant it was now 25-0.
Shetland were soon back in Duns territory and after a couple of pick and drives Duns were penalised. This time Shetland decided to go for the posts and Jamieson slotted the kick from 40 metres to make it 25-3.
Shetland defended resolutely but Duns scored two more tries, the first from a kick ahead that Shetland spilled.
With time running out Shetland did return to the Duns half and gained another penalty which Jamieson put over via the upright to end the game at 37-6.
The result sees Duns progress to the last 16 of the competition.
Despite a good performance Shetland were beaten by a superior team, but the forwards in particular made life difficult for Duns with their intensity. However, a couple of soft tries conceded in the first half meant the margin was greater than Duns deserved.
Best for Shetland were Matthew Nicholson and Stuart Mouat in the forwards and Maurice Williamson in the backs. Young flanker Craig Mann was named the Northwards man of the match for an aggressive performance over the entire 80 minutes.
A spokesman said Shetland Rugby Club would like to thank Duns RFC for the hospitality and for accommodating the players overnight and wished them well for the remainder of the season.
This weekend sees West Dyce travel to Clickimin and with Shetland winning the away game hopes are high that a victory can be achieved.
Training continues on Tuesday and Thursdays from 6.30pm and any players, new or old, are more than welcome. For more information on the club visit the website on www.shetlandrugby.com