Mackie have Highland fling
Mackie had travelled to Highland in Inverness early on in the season to be given a lesson in rugby
Mackie had travelled to Highland in Inverness early on in the season to be given a lesson in rugby.
The return match on Saturday saw a step change in both clubs positions and outlooks
Highland have suffered some unexpected set backs in the last few months whereas Mackie have been the form team of the league.
It was an intriguing encounter and one which was eagerly anticipated by all.
Mackie were missing six players from the previous week but such is the strength in depth now that new players were drafted in with no appreciable effect on the team
Playing into the wind and sun in the first half, Mackie were soon on the offensive and after 10 minutes had a series of rucks near the Highland line. Good defence by the visitors saw them win the ball and their standoff line up a saving kick to touch but Mackie stand off Atkins had other ideas and charged down the kick. To say it bounced kindly was an understatement and Atkins pounced on the ball to give him an easy touchdown. This was duly converted by Levack putting Mackie in to a 7 – 0 lead. A tough struggle ensued and after 20 minutes Highland who had been piling on the pressure for an unconverted try to take the score to 7 – 5. The game continued to ebb and flow and after 30 minutes Mackie had a series of rucks near the Highland line. The ball was eventually swung wide by Mitchell to flanker Mike Kelly who burst through two tackles and go over for a lovely score. This one went unconverted. Highland, not to be outdone made their way up the park and scored a lovely try under the posts which they converted to leave the half time score 12 – 10.
The half time chat centred on the passive tackling and the team were urged to be more aggressive in their approach. This seemed to pay dividends and Mackie spent most of their time on the attack without being able to make a breakthrough. There did not seem to be a likelihood of any scoring to be honest as defences dominated but suddenly their star prop made a drive at the Mackie defence. He collided into TT Akaoula who lifted and drove him back and dumped him unceremoniously five metres behind the gain line. A roar went up from the crowd and the Mackie pack swept over the ball to counter ruck the ball. The ball was swept wide and another ruck was set up outside the Highland 22. The whole tempo had picked up and Ed Packman picked up and went down the wing. For a 2nd row, he showed a remarkable turn of pace, breaking through two tackles and rounding the full back with ease before scampering round under the posts for a great individual score which Levack converted to take the score out to 19 – 10.
To their credit Highland continued to press and only a couple of last ditch tackles from full back Cammy Leask stopped them scoring again. A last minute penalty which Highland converted brought them a losing bonus point and a final score of 19 – 13.
Mackie have been the form team of the last 7 weeks losing only one game in that time and that by two points away to Orkney. They are firmly established in the higher league and great credit to them. The time has now come at the winter break to consider the way forward and to set new targets. Clear water has been established as the team now sits in third place with many more fancied teams sitting below them. Games still need to be won but plans can start to be put in place for the longer term
C Leask, D Garden, S Morgan, M Levack, R Gray, A Atkins, R Mellis, R Clyne, A Mitchell, J Sadio, E Speakman, S Byres, M Kelly, C Thomson, S Akaoula, J Robertson, K Ferguson, A Forbes