Aberdeen Wanderers 74, Shetland 3
After last week’s triumph over West Dyce, a young Shetland team travelled to Aberdeen to play the Wanderers. It was a perfect day for rugby as the sun was shining and spirits were high from the two big home victories in previous weeks.
Due to “Old Boy” obligations there was no John Roy Nicolson, the man of the match from last week. This weekend saw the return of Joe O’Connor, Lewis King and James Sinclair who all travelled up from university to play. This gave the Shetland backline a different look from the past two weeks with O’Connor playing at fly half, King at inside centre, moving Maurice Williamson to outside centre and Dominic Odell to his preferred position of full back.
From the kick-off Shetland applied a lot of pressure on the Wanderers stand-off, who had scored all of their points in their previous match. This forced the stand-off to kick from within his 22. This was caught by Odell and set off on what was to be many surging runs throughout the day.
Playing with confidence, the Shetland back line used the quick ball to gains yards and momentum, but could not find that try scoring break. The Wanderers stand-off was under immense pressure from the Shetland back row. This forced him to kick away most of Wanderers possession in the first half. That allowed Shetland to attack through their full back who linked up well with outside centre Maurice Williamson and Ian Nicol who was set free down the wing.
Unfortunately nothing came from this passage of play but showed Shetland’s intent to play an open style of running rugby against any opposition.
The Wanderers started running the ball and began to stretch the Shetland defence, but great tackling from centres King, Williamson and Ashley James who came on early in the second half to make his debut on the wing slowed their attack but eventually their forwards powered over.
The game followed a similar pattern throughout the first half with Shetland playing good running rugby but unable to convert the territory into points. Aberdeen on the other hand were able to convert some of their attacking opportunities.
As half time came Shetland were still believing that they could come away with something from this game and showed continued commitment and a never say die attitude, which they have shown throughout the season and should be extremely proud of.
The second half started well with a good platform provided by the forwards in the scrums and line-outs which they provided all day against a much bigger pack. This platform allowed the Shetland backline to run some well executed moves. Another great running line from Odell drew two defenders towards him before he passed to Nicol on the wing who would have scored had it not been for an amazing covering tackle by the Wanderers full back.
This half saw the Wanderers keep a lot more ball in hand and use the bigger forward pack to draw in too many defenders and thus leaving an overlap for their wingers to exploit; even the heroic tackling from James and Odell could not stop their momentum.
Midway through the half Shetland were awarded a penalty inside the opposition half and up stepped John Pulley with his new hair cut to slot what would be Shetland’s only points of the game.
As the game progressed Shetland were unable to stop the flow of tries against them, but continued to play an open running style with great performances from the back row of Stuart Jamieson, captain Mathew Nicolson and this week a fit Stuart Mouat who was awarded man of the match for his sterling effort, commitment and as usual his great tackling.
The final score 74-3 does not justify how well Shetland played and they should not be disheartened as the only way to become better is by playing better opponents.
The positives from Saturday’s performance were the solid scrums and line outs which gave a great platform and clean ball for the backs to play with, the running lines and commitment to tackles shown by all players, also the attitude of the players at maintaining their discipline.
The Shetland team also appreciated the quality of the refereeing, which was firm but fair. The referee controlled the game well, allowing a free flowing open game which was enjoyed by both teams.
Shetland travel away to Banff this weekend, hoping to improve on the performance against them at the beginning of the season which was a close game.
Training continues at Clickimin on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6.30pm, and anyone who is interested in playing the game is urged to go along.