The Shetland rugby team picked up a welcome victory at home at the weekend, defeating West Dyce on a cold and wet day at Clickimin.
Shetland 41 , West Dyce 11
Despite the NorthLink Ferry being cancelled on Saturday night, the intrepid Aberdonians made the trip north, keen to avenge the narrow loss to Shetland in the first encounter of the season at Westhill.
With the strong wind behind them, West Dyce looked to play the territorial game, forcing the young Shetland side to spend the first 15 minutes camped well in their own half. With Dyce on the attack, Shetland infringed at a ruck 20 metres out and the Dyce captain was happy to shoot for goal. The kick was successful, giving the visitors a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.
The kick-off was a poor one and Dyce were soon on the attack, again playing it close to the forwards. Despite being under pressure at the scrum and line-out, they seemed to have the advantage at the breakdown, with too many of the young Shetland forwards spectating rather than participating in that area of the game.
Although it wasn’t a day for spinning the ball wide, Shetland wingers Peter Sidgwick and Peter Farquhar were hungry for work and made several breaks, without managing to beat the last defender.
Dyce scored the first try of the match after some poor defending and several missed tackles. The conversion was wide, leaving the score at 8-0 to the visitors.
The try seemed to spur the Shetland team into action and young Danny Farnworth made an immediate impact off the bench on the open side. Shetland attacked the Dyce line on several occasions with front rower Niall Christie, in his first start, going close before a lovely offload to fellow prop John Roy Nicolson, who somehow was held up by the Dyce defence.
It took a snipe around a ruck and in and out of three tackles by rookie scrum half Iain Nicol to finally put Shetland on the board with 32 minutes gone. This gave the loyal Shetland supporters some hope and the team looked ready to cut loose. Unfortunately, a penalty soon after kick-off gave Dyce a chance to extend their lead from 40 metres out. The kick was good, making the score 11-5 to Dyce at the break.
Some stern words at half time and the injection of Shane “Banjo” Patterson brought some much-needed cohesion to the Shetland pack and with the wind behind them, Shetland started to string some phases together.
Shetland’s second try was scored by right wing Sidgwick and Shane Jamieson converted from wide out to take the lead for the first time in the game at 12-11. Jamieson then added a penalty to extend the lead to 15-11 before scoring the next try, showing good pace after a nice inside break. He converted his try to make it 22-11.
When stand-in coach Robert Geddes introduced Steve “The Pirate” Glaister 10 minutes into the second half on the left wing, he had an immediate impact, catching the ball from the kick-off and making 25 metres or so, before being dragged to the ground.
Within minutes Glaister had the ball in hand again and left three defenders in his wake as he scored his first try in the league this season, giving Shetland a healthy 27-11 lead. This gave Shetland their four-try bonus point for the first time this winter.
West Dyce were starting to tire and sustained a couple of injuries and at this point Shetland could have relaxed. But showing they had learned from recent local games and the cup tie with Duns last week, they went for it. More substitutions were made with young whippet Simon Hildebrand coming on to the wing and Jeff Dobson replacing the livewire Nicol at scrum half.
With 10 minutes left on the clock Joe O’Connor put a cheeky kick through for the rampant Glaister to chase, which he did and scored near the posts. Again Jamieson nailed the conversion to give Shetland a 34-11 lead.
West Dyce lost their last front row forward to injury, so uncontested scrums were called by referee Paul Woods. This allowed Geddes to make more changes, giving the hard-working John Roy Nicolson and Kristian Fraser a rest and sending first Craig Mann and then James Sinclair back on.
With time running out O’Connor finally managed to step inside the defence and run in a try, which Jamieson converted to give Shetland a 41-11 win.
There were some very good displays, especially from the recently-returned Stewart Mouat and the other loose forwards. The Northwards man of the match was Iain Nicol.
A spokesman said the Shetland players would like to thank West Dyce for making the journey, knowing they would have to stay overnight, and hoped they enjoyed the local hospitality.
Tonight the team travels to Peterhead to face the bottom-of-the-table side, with sights set on a second away win of the season. With dry docking of the ferries affecting matches planned for February, there will be an opportunity for local matches, to allow the ever growing pool of players to cement their place in the squad for the remaining league fixtures in March.
Visit the club website for further details at www.shetlandrugby.com