The Greatest of Escapes
Steve McQueen who.....
Mackie travelled down to St Andrews for the final game of the season with a large support for the final game of the season. Everything was at stake with a win securing their place in the league and a loss throwing them into play off situations to avoid relegation.
A strong side took the field on a cold but sunny day knowing that their destiny lay very much in their own hands. St Andrews had out one of their strongest sides and the result was no forgone conclusion. From the kick off the exchanges were intense and hard hitting as both sets of forwards struggled for supremacy.
After 15 minutes Macke started to make some inroads up the slope and put together a series of plays that saw the ball swung left. Some slick passing among the backs created an opening and Duncan Ross went in unopposed in the corner to give Mackie an early lead. The conversion from Levack was sweetly struck and Mackie suddenly had a lead of 7 – 0.
Although in the lead Mackie were struggling to create continuity. This was in part because of the number of errors they were making in the contact zone. With the play starting to run against them Mackie and frustration creeping in to their ranks the Mackie team came under more and more pressure. A penalty was conceded and converted and then as defence became more intense St Andrews started to run back the hurried defensive kicks from Mackie. Their back three were very strong and the whole student side started to create great momentum. It was no surprise when the students broke through to score a lovely try from a kick ahead which they converted to take the score to 10 – 7 in their favour.
Mackie were really starting to bicker amongst themselves and soon after the KO they conceded yet another penalty. As everyone decided to debate the rights and wrongs of that particular decision the students lost no time in taking a quick tap and moving the ball wide. They easily score in the corner to take the half time score to 15 – 7 in the home sides favour
Coach Mair had a few home truths for the Mackie players and a couple of tactical changes for the second half. Levack kicked off with the wind and slope in their favour and soon it became clear that the comments had been taken on board. The forwards were playing as a tighter unit and really taking the battle to their opposition. The driving mauls were starting to sap the strength of the students as Mackie brought the discipline to their game that had been missing in the first half. There was great defensive work from the whole side but Matehe and Byres stood out as the tide started to turn and Mackie moved on to the front foot. A huge jump in the lineout by Byres at a defensive position for the students meant sloppy ball back to their scrum half who was caught in possession behind his line by Mitchell and Flynn. From the scrum the ball was spilled but the forwards re gathered and from the drive Captain Thompson went in to score an unconverted try.
Anaru Atkins was really starting to be a major influence on the game and again put Mackie in strong field position from the kick off. From a lineout the ball was worked infield and then after a series of rucks was switched blind. The overlap created let Thompson with just the full back to beat and the result was never in doubt as he crashed over the line totale the score to 17 – 15 to Mackie. Poor discipline and fatigue was starting to show in the student ranks and they seemed to wilt under the double pressure of the Mackie players and also the Mackie crowd of over 50 supporters who had made the trip and were cheering the team at their every success. A penalty for offside was converted by Levack and the lead went out to 20 – 15
With 20 minutes to go the game and the clubs destiny still hung in the balance. Mackie who had hit what some called a purple patch then went on to play some of the best rugby that some of the older spectators were happy to concede was the best they had ever seen from a Mackie side. With the students having tackled themselves to a standstill the Mackie forwards to a man continued to pound into them and destroy their defensive systems. They simply couldn’t cope and after 25 minutes a series of plays with quick recycling saw Morgan cross the line after a great step inside. 25 – 15. Then from the Kick off Atkins put the ball behind the student defence and their winger was caught with the ball. He was robbed and the ball switched inside. Three more rucks and the ever present Mellis switched the ball the other was. On the receiving end was hooker Mitchell who was lurking on the wing – either through reading the game well or from exhaustion! There was going to be only one result and yet another try ensued to take the score out to 30 – 15. By now the crowd were at fever pitch and still the best was yet to come. Quite possibly the best try of this season or any other then unfolded. From the Mackie 10 yard line stand off Atkins broke right and pinned his target. As the St Andrews man came in to make his tackle. Atkins with a sublime inside pass that no one read found his brother Rawiri coming on at full pace. He broke the defensive line and as he neared the full back put a lob pass inside to his brother who had used his natural turn of speed to keep up with the action. With the threat of the blind side winger coming across to cover he passed outside to Akauola who dived over the line for an absolute gem of a try.
St Andrews score a consolation try in the closing moments but nothing was going to take the gloss off the outcome. The crowd cheered to the rafters and the mission was complete. Final score 35 – 20 to Mackie
The second half was immense but so also was the second half of the season. Since December, the team have taken 34 points from a possible 40 and from being 14 points adrift find themselves propelled to the dizzy heights of 5th in the league. We have been the form team in Scotland bar none and the players and coaching staff have a huge amount to be proud of. Not only has the club come of age but it has now set a standard for itself and created an inspiration for the age groups as well. If you want something enough you can do it – and perhaps whistle the theme tunes to the Great Escape or Mission Impossible at the same time!