Deeside 41, Shetland 20
Shetland Rugby Football Club travelled to Aboyne last week to take on Deeside, who had started the season with a big win over Peterhead.
On a day more suited to beach activites, Shetland arrived with a strong side, despite not having talisman John Roy Nicolson and usual goal kicker Shane Jamieson on board. Following the disappointing start last week against Banff, it was made clear before the match that a repeat would not be tolerated.
Shetland took the game to Deeside, chasing the kick-off and putting pressure on the Deeside pack. The early pressure paid off when full back Lewis King went over after five minutes following some excellent attacking play from both forwards and backs. Paul Grant stepped up to kick the conversion, but it was waved away, despite most thinking it had gone through the posts.
As is often the case with Shetland, the foot went off the gas and Deeside struck back with a well-taken unconverted try making it 5-5. There was some good attacking play from both teams after that and some big tackles going in, with King and Stewart Mouat prominent in both attack and defence. Shetland struck again after 20 minutes through pacy winger Nathan Coote out wide on the right. Grant was unable to convert.
With 10 minutes to go in the half Deeside struck again, converting to give them a 12-10 lead at the break. Shetland had made a couple of substitutes before the break and made more at half time as the heat began to take its toll on some. Thomas Smale was making a good impact in the pack and with veteran Lincoln Carroll joining the pack, Shetland put pressure on the Deeside in the loose, but the scrum was again being dominated by the Deeside pack. That pressure was soaked up well until Deeside finally struck with two quick unconverted tries to stretch their lead to 22-10.
Shetland hit back after 20 minutes following some sustained pressure with a Paul Grant penalty making it 22-13. Deeside struck again against the run of play, with a long-range converted try to make it 29-13 and a comeback looked doubtful.
When Deeside kicked long for touch after a Shetland turn-over, winger Callum Williamson collected the ball and threw it to the alert King, who passed a long quick throw in to Carroll. He drew the first defender before making a long pass to Maurice Williamson and he managed to draw the defence, who hadn’t anticipate such an audacious attack, and sent Nathan Coote on his way. From the ensuing ruck, quick ball went to the alert Joe O’Connor who stepped his way to the line for the try of the season so far. Paul Grant converted to make it 29-20 to Deeside.
Shetland went on the attack to at least secure the four-try bonus and possible win. When a pass was dropped 20 metres from the tryline, the Deeside winger managed to scoop it up and ran 80 metres to put the game beyond Shetland.
Salt was rubbed into the wound when the other Deeside wing managed to latch on to a poor kick and run in a try again from deep, which was converted to make a final score of 41-20.
Despite the flattering scoreline the match was hard fought and close for the best part, with Deeside making the most of their luck.
For Shetland the scrum was again poor and work will need to be done to improve that. However, there were excellent attacks from the young backs, with Lewis King shining, and some great work in the loose by some of the forwards, with Stewart Mouat winning the Northwards man of the match award.
The referee said the match was the best he had witnessed in the league, citing the open nature of play, which was backed up by the fact that wingers and full backs featured in most of the try scoring.
With several backs now enjoying Freshers week at university, the squad for home games is severely weakened for the upcoming matches. A club spokesperson asked that all former, current or intending players who are willing to return to the team are urged to attend training at Clickimin on Tuesday and Thursday nights at 6.30pm sharp.
Shetland take on Garioch at Clickimin tomorrow with a noon kick-off.