Mackie 7s roll on!
The Mackie 7s squad headed to Banff on Saturday to contest the annual 7s trophy.
The Mackie 7s squad headed to Banff on Saturday to contest the annual 7s trophy. After a semi final and quarter final in the past 2 weeks, hopes were high that the progress made would result in a reaching the final and the possibility of some silverwear. last week, at Highland 7s, there were glimpses of what the team could do and with a good training session midweek there was a feel that things were really coming together.
The draw was relatively kind to Mackie, landing in Group 2, they were up first against the Barbarians team – a mix of Banff players and players from other teams.
With the glorious sunshine and light breeze, the weather was perfect for playing some good sevens rugby. Levack kicked off and things got underway quickly against a rather obviously put together Barbarians team. The opposition had some good players but lacked any real shape to their attack or defence. For Mackie it was a good starting opposition where the could work the patterns of play they are developing at training. Working the defence until a gap opened up for an attacking run. The match ended Mackie 47 – 0 to the good with Captain Morgan and Levack getting 2 tries each, Lawson, Kay and Gray also getting on the scoreboard.
Game 2 was an altogether different affair. Playing the hosts Banff who historically play very well at 7s and even in their 15 a side guise play with a certain flair. Playing into the sun again, things took a few minutes to kick into gear. A rucking infringement led to a Banff scrum just inside the Mackie 22. Gray at scrum half managed to snaffle the ball from the spinning scrum and accelerated away with Garden in support, drawing the tackle he offloaded to the gas man garden who outstripped 2 defenders to score a great try. Mackie restarted and a pin point kick from Levack found Garden wide on the right wing who picked the ball out of the sky without breaking stride and raced away underneath the posts for his second try in under a minute! He converted himself. Try number 3 was 7s heaven....the cheeky Atkins calling for a pass from the 6ft 4” Swaffield....unfortunately the Banff 2nd Row didn’t recognise the thick Kiwi accent and gave the pass anyway. Atkins turned and giggled before passing off to Lawson who weaved in and out of the scrambling defence before selling his trademark windmill dummy and trotting through the resultant gap to score. Gray added the extras.
In the second half Banff enjoyed some early territory in the Mackie 22, but the defence held well and when the turnover came, the elusive “pattern” was utilised with composure and without any major breaks Mackie pressed up the pitch to beyond half way.....not particularly impressive to watch but it is the building block for which 7s is played upon. However when it breaks down it is obvious, Atkins became isolated in the midfield and lost the ball and the impressive Banff scrum half ‘Goggs’ released his winger with a clever scissors move and he made no mistake to score between the sticks.
From the restart Banff again capitalised on small lapses of judgment from some Mackie guys, but the defence held well before a scrum on the Mackie 22. The 3 mackie forwards forced a wild pass from the Banff number 9, reading the bounce, Levack flicked the ball passed the fly halfs hands and re-gathered to sprint the length of the pitch. Levack is not exactly Usain Bolt but managed to turn the scrambling winger inside out before fending off to score....then was quickly substituted for some high concentration oxygen. Final Score Mackie 24 Banff 5.
Game 3 was against Dyce, a team that the 2nd XV had played at the start of the season in a very unfriendly and characteristically messy affair. Since then however Dyce have considerably improved and have a large squad of keen and talented players who want to play good rugby. Led by long time stallwart Nick Cheyne, Dyce played well but they, much like many of the teams on show at the weekend, were trying to play in the style of 15 a side rugby and so became isolated in attack allowing for turnovers aplenty! The opening try came from a great turnover by Kelly, the ball was spread quickly wide to Morgan, who quite brilliantly stopped, turned on a sixpence and roared off around the side, down the wing and then cut inside to burn up the grass on the way to the posts. From the restart, Kay had the opportunity to emulate Gardens earlier try with another pin point kick from Levack but a lack of confidence in the air allowed the moment to pass. It was nip and tuck for a few minutes before Gray snaffled up another scrappy scrum and looped round to dive over in the corner. Try 3 came from another Gray turnover, Reid on at scrum half fed Kelly who delighted the Mackie travelling support with his trademark goose step and turn of pace to open the gap for Reid and the Kay to exploit and turn on the thrusters to gas down the touchline and under the posts. From the restart, Dyce tried to change things with a kick deep but Gray and Kay combined well with a counter attack the length of the pitch allowing Gray to get his fourth of the day. The second half allowed Duncan Ross onto the score sheet, with excellent support running he took a pass from Garden and fended well to score in the corner. His attempt at a conversion may have been partly due to being out of breath but it was quite amusing to watch the ball actually travel further away from the posts than it was when he kicked it. Things continued from the restart with Atkins reverse passing out to Kay running in space to get his second. With Dyce tiring, the final try went to Ross again who linked well with Reid to dive over again in the corner.....his conversion attempt did not improve.
With 3 good performances and only leaking one try Mackie topped the group and were put against CP’s Allstars in the Cup Final. CP’s Allstars were a collection or Grammar rugby players past and present, all with considerable pedigree. 2 of which, Mark Oatey and Eddie Addie were also former Mackie players in their youth. Receiving the kick off, Mackie put into action their game plan and tried to find a space. The Allstars were a savvy bunch though and this was proving hard to do. Then with nothing looking on, Levack broke through the midfield and was already thinking about his celebration before being stopped short by the ginger wonder Oatey! luckily as the tackle was made he manage to offload to Morgan who popped the ball down to put Mackie ahead 7 – 0 with the conversion. Gray restarted but unfortunately the kick did not hit 10m and from the free kick the Allstars quickly loaded the left and scored quickly. These guys all had class, in attack they were clinical and in defence they disrupted the form of Mackie enough to cause all sorts of problems. At half time it was 4 tries to 1 in favour of the Allstars. Tiring legs meant that Mackie were at times just half a yard out of position which allowed gaps to appear for the pacy wingers to exploit or just didn’t allow for a ‘check out’ pass. Oatey again the tormentor caught a kick off over the top of Lawson and raced away to score....in reply from the next kick off, it was Lawson who came out on top and dummied his way up to score an equally good try. A good spell of pressure again resulted in a try, Levack made the half break in the midfield and sent a long offload to Morgan who flanked to the left and set up garden to score again. Mackie had to work hard, make every tackle count and make possession count. The final word unfortunately went to the lightning winger of the Allstars who pure and simple out paced the defence and score. Final score Mackie 19 CP’s Allstars 38. There were moments when one extra pass would have made a difference, a bit quicker in thought processes and perhaps a bit more fitness. Mackie played probably some of the best rugby at the tournament, but against a side with the class of the Allstars, all of whom looked comfortable on the ball and seemed to have time to spare, there is obvious room for improvement. The aim was to reach the final, so mission accomplished and some medals to take home to Stonehaven is a bonus.
Another great weekend, learning all the time and everyone relishing the challenge. Next up is the GHA 7s in Glasgow on the 26th May.
Squad: Akauola, Atkins, Gray, Levack, Garden, Morgan (c), Ross, Kelly, Lawson, Reid, Kay