The Shetland under-18 rugby team sustained another heavy defeat at the weekend, going down 75-0 to visiting side Moray.
Shetland 0, Moray 75
A large win for Moray was a fair result on Saturday although the home players were disappointed to have drawn a blank.
The Shetland squad was depleted by injuries and absentees whereas the visitors travelled with a big squad looking to remain in contention for the league title.
Conceding early points has been a feature of the Shetland games this year and once more the opposition had a try within three minutes. Winger Cameron Beattie finished a move following an interception.
Another more welcome feature of Shetland’s games has been the levels of effort and commitment which meant the next 20 minutes were roughly equal with both sides adapting to the heavy pitch and damp conditions.
After that Moray began to identify and exploit opportunities for their pacey backs to open up the Shetland defence. They scored four more tries before half-time including two by full back Keiran Young.
Shetland’s tackling was good with several great stops by Tighe Henderson but Moray were finding overlaps on subsequent phases. Conner McLaren at full back had a busy day and was constantly under pressure for clearing kicks.
Half-time arrived with Moray leading 27-0.
Rob McDiarmid’s restart kick did not go 10 metres and the second half went much as the first half had ended. Beattie and Young scored again as did centre Euan Stuart, who had a part in most of his team’s scores.
Both teams were changing player positions around and Moray stand-off Calum Gaffney was on the wing to feed Drew Cooper with a reverse pass for a try by the ex-Shetland player. Cooper added another soon after from a five-metre scrum.
Shetland locks McDiarmid and Saul Swanson, along with flanker Colin Derbyshire, were making their presence felt and had the best of Shetland’s breaks. Time and again, the Shetland team would make ground for a few phases, usually to well inside Moray’s half, before a turnover or a clearing kick would take play back into Shetland’s 22.
Shetland swapped scrum half Ethan Bradley and stand-in fly half Ross Mustard for the last 10 minutes to see if a change of approach around the scrums could make a difference but the Moray pack were resolute.
By the end Moray had scored 13 tries and five conversions. A credit to the Moray team is that despite the one-sided score they never became complacent and kept the pressure up throughout.
The Frank Williamson man of the match for Shetland was captain Fraser McKenzie. His tackling and support at breaks were noted by both sets of coaches, although his captain’s welcome at the post-match meal needs work.
Under-18 coach David Thomson said: “I was impressed by how Moray hit the line at real pace. It meant that even when we made those important first tackles, Moray’s momentum carried them over the gain line. And when we didn’t make the tackles then they made serious distance up the pitch.
“While it never led to a breakthrough, I was pleased with how the Shetland pack made decisions around the rucks, which allowed the back line to realign. There will be better chances, taken or not, if there is a platform to start from. We thank Moray for a good game and especially for helping a full 15-a-side happen by lending players.”
Shetland’s next game is away to Aberdeen Grammar on 16th November. This will be a significant game as both teams have lost all six of their fixtures so far.
The match against Ross Sutherland was postponed during the school holidays and has been rearranged for 30th November. That will be another interesting game with Ross Sutherland also at the bottom end of the table.
Mackie Rugby Club remain top of the league due to their unbeaten status, despite having a bye week. Gordonstoun and Moray are close behind.
Thomson added that the club wished to thank sponsors ICD Scrap Haulage and Serco NorthLink Ferries.