Shetland Rugby club followed up their record home victory over Peterhead last week with a strong second half display over West Dyce, who began the day one place above Shetland in Scottish Hydro Electric Caledonia Division 2. Despite having the better of a scrappy first half on a wet and windy day at Clickimin, the away side were put to the sword by a rampant Shetland team in the second half, who came away with another bonus point victory.
Shetland 40, West Dyce 10
Shetland came into their second successive home game full of confidence following last week’s hammering of Peterhead, although they knew they would need to improve on their performance in that game if they were to follow up that victory with another over West Dyce.
The home side were able to name the same back division as last week, and this continuity seemed to help the team. In the forwards, Iain Robertson was brought into the second row, with Stuart Jamieson moving out to flanker to cover for the injured Stewart Mouat, who was only fit enough for a spot on the subs bench.
West Dyce won the toss and elected to kick off with the wind. The visiting stand off, however, completely missed his kick, sending it spinning about a foot backwards. A scrum was awarded to Shetland, and from this opportunity the backline decided to run wide against the visiting side, making good yardage before becoming isolated and turning the ball over.
The game remained scoreless through the first half until West Dyce chipped the ball over the Shetland defence. Shetland full back Paul Grant covered well and beat the onrushing attackers to the ball, placing it down behind the line for what he, and a large proportion of the crowd, thought would be a 22 metre drop-out for Shetland. However it emerged that the ball had touched a Shetland hand when in flight, and so the referee awarded a five metre scrum to the visiting side, and Shetland were under pressure.
From this point, the home defence held out well for a number of phases, but could not repel the incessant charges of the visiting side, and it was not much of a surprise when the West Dyce centre crashed over to open the scoring. The stand-off’s poor kicking continued however when the conversion was missed.
Shetland roared back into the game again, upping the intensity somewhat, and put the away side under more pressure than they had managed to previously. Following some good play from veteran forward John Roy Nicolson, almost single-handedly dragging the Shetland team upfield, scrum half Callum Williamson fed the ball out to the backs, who managed to release full back Grant, who beat a couple of players before dashing round under the posts to score. He then nailed the simple conversion to put Shetland in front 7-5.
It looked from this point that Shetland would go on to take the game to the visitors, but with poor discipline around the ruck, the home side continued to shoot themselves in the foot.
Flanker Craig Mann was then sent to the sin-bin by referee Paul Woods for illegal use of the boot, with around five minutes to go until half time. It was during this period, while Shetland were a man down, that West Dyce again took the lead. Some quick phases by the forwards stretched the home defence, and the away side managed to burrow their way over the line. Again the conversion was missed, giving West Dyce a 10-7 lead going into half time.
Truth be told, the scoreline could and perhaps should have been much worse for the home side at this point. Had West Dyce used their wind advantage and kicked the ball downfield, it is likely that more points would have come their way. The home team were told this at half time, and player-coach Mike Skinner reiterated the need for Shetland to keep their discipline.
Shetland came out with renewed vigour at the restart, and immediately put the pressure on the away side. With just a few minutes on the clock in the second half, prop Kristian Fraser crashed through a weak defence to return the home side to the lead. Grant once again kicked the conversion putting Shetland 14-7 up.
Stewart Mouat was then introduced for Craig Mann, and made an immediate impact, running good lines and making some crunching tackles. Shetland were able to use the wind to their advantage, unlike the away team, and were able to keep the ball in the West Dyce 22. As a result of sustaining this good field position, Shetland then increased their lead, with John Roy Nicolson rolling back the years and going over for a third Shetland score. Grant was showing good form with the boot and converted once more.
One more score would secure a bonus point for Shetland, and it was at this point that Jon Pulley was introduced to the fray, on for Williamson at scrum half. His first act of the game was to grab that important try, showing good anticipation to gather and score from Maurice Williamson’s chip ahead. Unfortunately this time, Grant missed the difficult conversion.
Shetland added two further tries before the game was over. Sustained pressure on the West Dyce line told when first captain Matthew Nicolson, and the Grant for his second crossed the whitewash, to pile more misery on the away side. Grant was able to convert both of these tries to give a final score of 40-10 in favour of the home side.
There were a number of good performances in this game from the home side, notably from Stuart Jamieson and, prior to his sin-binning, Craig Mann in the forwards. Paul Grant at full back had his best game to date in a Shetland shirt, with two tries and five conversions to his name. Solid debuts were made by both Robbie Hall and Logan Nicolson, which is very encouraging. The Northwards Man of the Match award was awarded though to John Roy Nicolson, who had a fantastic game in the tight and in the loose, and really rolled back the years with a vintage performance.
Shetland have a tough away fixture next week, playing Aberdeen Wanderers at Groats Road. “Wands” finished top of this division last year, and have been playing some good rugby, but Shetland have also built some great momentum with these back-to-back victories, and will certainly be confident heading into this game.
Training continues at Clickimin on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6.30pm, and anyone who is interested in playing the game is urged to come along.