The Shetland rugby team finally got their season on track at the fifth time of asking with a thumping, 15-try victory over Peterhead on Saturday, with the visitors unable to register on the scoresheet at all.
Shetland 91, Peterhead 0
A strong-looking Shetland squad took to the field at Clickimin knowing that nothing less than victory would be acceptable. A couple of changes were made to the team which lost away to Huntly the previous week, with Dom Odell returning at stand-off, allowing Nathan Coote to return to his favoured position on the wing. Peter Sidgwick came into the centres and his father Martin had a spot on the bench.
Peterhead were a couple of players short so young Shetland substitutes Iain Robertson and Thomas Meadows crossed over to deputise.
Shetland knew that if they were to win the game they would need to spin the ball wide and use their pace men in the backs to keep the ball away from the large Peterhead pack. They also knew they had to start the game at full intensity and get the first try on the board, as this has been a problem all season.
Peterhead kicked off and the home team fielded the kick well, playing a couple of tight phases through the forwards before releasing the backs. Almost immediately the ball was shipped out to the right wing and Tom Laing went over in the corner to open the scoring. Paul Grant missed the conversion, giving Shetland a 5-0 lead inside two minutes.
From the ensuing kick-off Shetland followed the same tactic as their previous effort, rumbling through some good phases in the forwards before releasing the backs, and this time Nathan Coote ran in his first try of the day. Grant made no mistake with his conversion to make it 12-0 within five minutes.
The rest of the half continued in pretty much the same vein, with Shetland’s pack winning the forwards battle, captain Matthew Nicolson stealing a number of line-outs from the Peterhead throw and the scrum looking solid. The backline looked very clinical and further scores were added by Peter Sidgwick, Maurice Williamson, back rowers Nicolson and Stewart Mouat and a further three tries for Coote. Grant converted most of the tries to Shetland a very healthy 62-0 lead going into the break.
At half time the home players were told to continue in the same vein, sticking to the game plan set out prior to the match. Peterhead were bolstered by the addition of Shetland scrum-half Jon Pulley, returning from injury, for the second period.
As the second half began the crowd could see a familiar pattern forming. Shetland took the game to Peterhead, and it was not long before Williamson and Coote ran in further scores. Unfortunately for Shetland, Coote had to be replaced after scoring his second try of the half – and his sixth of the match – after pulling a hamstring. He was replaced on the wing by Martin Sidgwick, who did not take long to get on the score sheet himself. Yannick Harpe was also introduced for Laing at this point.
It became clear as the half wore on that Shetland were taking their foot off the gas, and that allowed Peterhead to finally exert some pressure. They were unlucky not to score when Pulley wriggled through the Shetland defence, only to be stopped by an excellent cover tackle from Maurice Williamson.
The young Shetland centre then completed a second half hat-trick with another two scores, giving him a total of four for the game. Grant seemed to take his kicking boots off at half time, only scoring one of his conversion attempts in the second half.
The final score was 91-0 in favour of the home side, the result being Shetland’s biggest home win, following just a fortnight after their heaviest home defeat.
Credit must however, be given to Peterhead for plugging away for the full 80 minutes, despite their depleted squad having to borrow some local players.
Shetland will be encouraged by the result, although there are a number of areas which need to be worked on before the next home game against West Dyce. These particularly concern aggression and body positions in an around the breakdown, which on another day would have been punished by the opposition.
However, there are a number of positives to be taken from the game. In the forwards the set pieces were solid, particularly the line-out, and the back line was looking very dangerous, with many solid performances, particularly from Williamson, Coote and Pete Sidgwick, who attacked and defended well all day.
The Northwards man of the match award was presented to young scrum-half Callum Williamson who passed well and bossed his forwards with authority.
Tomorrow’s match against West Dyce kicks off at noon and the blues will be hoping for a second victory on the bounce. Once again it is hoped that a large crowd will turn out to support the home team.
Training continues on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Clickimin from 6pm with a 6.30pm start. Any players, new or old, are very welcome to attend.